There have been a number of buzzwords that have dominated the tech industry throughout 2014. Notable examples include ‘3D printing’, ‘IoT’ and ‘wearable tech’.
While all three of these markets have been analysed, reported on and ventured into by companies big and small, it seems the industry believes 2015 will be the year that they will really make an impact in the channel and on the High Street.
While Gartner predicts that we shouldn’t expect 3D printing to really take off until 2019, a number of big names in the industry are already planning for next year.
HP recently announced a Sprout PC that works with its new 3D printing technology, which is ‘10 times faster than technology that’s already out there’. Printer firm Ricoh also told PCR that it is ‘keeping a close eye’ on the market.
Dan Ceiley, marketing executive at Spire Technology, believes 3D printing will be a significant area of growth for the distributor in 2015: “Spire is currently evaluating printers and engaging with a number of manufacturers in this area, but the stumbling block remains the quality versus cost argument.
“Low-cost solutions simply cannot deliver the quality people would expect at this point in time. However, continued innovation and evolution will soon enable manufacturers to produce affordable, quality 3D for the consumer market and we fully intend to introduce 3D printers to our expanding product range.”
IoT – The Internet Of Things – is another sector that has exploded over the past year, yet still has quite a lot of mystery surrounding it. It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of your fridge being connected to the internet seemed preposterous, now every startup seems to be focused on some sort of IoT offering.
Dominic Sunnebo, global strategic insight director at Kantar World Panel, tells PCR that although everyone seems to love the idea of IoT, many consumers still don’t really understand the tangible benefits.
“The idea of connected home/connected car has mass appeal, but to create a system which works smoothly requires huge investment and the vast majority of consumers are nowhere near making this investment. I suspect this idea will gain traction with high-end residential developments over the next 12 months, but is someway from wider adoption,” says Sunnebo.
Despite this, a study from Accenture Interactive predicts that the amount of consumers that will own an IoT device for their home, such as a thermostat or security camera, will triple by the end of next year.
Wearable technology is also set to make a big impact in 2015. Although there have been a number of smartwatches, fitness trackers and other wearable gadgets released throughout 2014, a fair amount of them have been in the second
half of the year. With the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset due next year, and a smartwatch also on the way from Apple in 2015, it seems the channel is getting ready for the competition to really heat up.
“Wearable tech will be the hot trend for 2015, with VIP already securing a foothold in this space with the highly anticipated Razer Nabu,” comments Rich Marsden, director at VIP Computers.
Kevin Linsell, head of service development at Adapt, believes that while the current products from Pebble, Samsung, Sony, and Razer will continue to evolve and compete in 2015, the Apple Watch is likely to bring wearable tech into the mainstream.
“From a CIO perspective this will have impact from an internal security perspective as another form of BYOD,” says Linsell.
“If you have an online presence, it may require a further investment in development. Think back 15 years where everyone was developing online stores and e-commerce sites, then in the last five years the development of mobile apps. Will it soon be a requirement to have a wearable based app also?”
Austin O’Malley, chief product officer at Ipswitch, agrees that WYOD (Wear Your Own Device) may cause headaches for IT departments throughout the new year: “Very few businesses are prepared for the impact that these devices will have on the corporate network.
“Businesses and organisations need to plan ahead for WYOD before it impacts on network performance and security. The sheer volume of additional devices connecting to the network is likely to slow down performance.”
While smartwatches and fitness trackers are on the agenda for next year, some industry experts believe that 2015 will not be the year for Google Glass as many consumers will wise up to security issues.
“Even if consumers like the idea of Google Glass capabilities themselves, there would be huge worry about other people’s reaction to them wearing it and perceiving they may be being filmed, snapped and tracked,” says Sunnebo.
Windows 10 will be released in 2015. Microsoft’s next operating system promises to bring back the beloved Start Menu, as well as improved ‘enterprise-grade’ security, a better user experience and management capabilities.
With one million users signing up to try out the Windows 10 Technical Preview within the first two weeks of its launch, the new operating system is already off to a good start.
On the subject of new software, Linsell believes that 2015 will bring some new ‘end of life’ challenges.
“The IT department had fun in 2014 with the demise of Windows XP, Office 2003 and IE6 support. In 2015 this continues, most notably with Server 2003 and with it the last mainstream 32 bit server platform,” he explains.
Next year will also be an interesting one for PC hardware, not only are the highly anticipated Steam Machine gaming PCs set to finally make their way to consumers, but an increase in DDR4 sales are expected.
DDR4 promises faster speeds, more bandwidth and greater efficiency over DDR3. Crucial’s product marketing manager, Jeremy Mortenson, tells PCR that the firm has seen some good adoption with a steady ramp of sales in both server and desktop DDR4.
“The analysts are saying late 2015/early 2016 for a possible crossover,” comments Mortenson. “We expect additional platforms to be released in 2015 and going forward.”
Although contactless payments have been around for a while now, the announcement of Apple Pay looks set to heat up the competition next year.
Visa Europe predicts that 500 million UK contactless payments will occur in 2015 and Juniper Research predicts that 516 million people will use NFC contactless payment services by the end of 2019.
While Google Wallet actually launched back in 2011, the service saw its weekly transactions increase by 50 per cent after Apple Pay was unveiled.
Apple’s NFC-based payment service has already launched in the US with more than 220,000 stores and apps on board, and CEO Tim Cook has already warned retailers to ‘accept Apple Pay or risk alienating customers’.
“In Retail, the adoption of contactless payment methods has increased over recent years for low value items,” explains Linsell. “With Apple Pay launching in the US I would expect a UK launch to follow in the first half of 2015. Retailers looking to appeal to the Apple demographic need to prepare themselves to support this new transaction process.”