There is little doubt that 2012 was a massive year for technology – robots on Mars, exoskeletons offering signs that wheel chairs may one day become redundant, Windows 8, and 3D printing using recycled plastic.
The biggest technology impact in 2012 was the flood of new exciting consumer products including 4G smartphones, cameras, GPS, game consoles and tablets.
But now it’s time to look ahead to 2013 and see what’s in store for technology in Australia.
So what’s going to happen?
1. Election 2013
If the government is returned the NBN will move ahead as planned – albeit with faults including the glacial pace of the rollout, the ban on the NBN connecting with planes, trains, buses and other vehicles, and continuing to use Alcatel-Lucent as a sole supplier of the fibre system.
If the opposition wins government we should expect to see immediate change. Key changes if the opposition wins government are likely to include a reduction in the fibre rollout – with the new mix of customer access being 60% fibre to the home, 30% fibre to the node, 7% fixed wireless and 3% satellite. The 30% fibre to the node will consist mainly of multi-dwelling buildings – many of which now utilise a fibre to the building solution.
2. Mobile internet
2013 will be the year that the move to mobile devices has the greatest impact on the internet.
Smartphones, tablets and the big mover for 2013, cyber-glasses, will become the focus for internet developments and marketing will attempt to overcome the perception that it is difficult to advertise effectively through mobile devices.
Gartner, an information technology research and advisory company, has predicted that mobile app downloads will top 81 billion in 2013, an increase of about 45% over 2012.
The government will face increasing pressure to do something about the widening competitive gap between traditional store front retailers and online international retailers.
The loss of GST revenue and the flow of capital out of Australia will reach a level that will make this an election issue. A recent survey report by SLI Systems identifies that retailers will focus their eCommerce priorities on search engine optimisation, mobile commerce, eCommerce platforms and improving website search capabilities.
Criminal activity over the internet will reach a new peak in 2013.
Cyber-crime may reach the A$2 billion mark in 2013. Government will come under increasing pressure to take steps to reduce cyber-crime and this may finally lead to the introduction of technologies to improve privacy and security on the internet.
Companies operating on the internet are likely to focus their attention on the cyber-crime problem and improve the security of their online presence through smart design.
5. Mobile and WiFi
The shift away from the desktop to mobile platforms will continue in 2013.
Recent changes to mobile carrier plans to reduce data allowances bodes ill for mobile customers in 2013 hoping to increase their smartphone and tablet use. The move to increase charges on mobile customers continues Australia’s mobile rip-off and poses the problem for regulators – how to increase competition with such a skewed mobile landscape where Telstra is dominant, Optus seems to be asleep and Vodafone is likely still reeling from the Vodafail episode.
The big winner in 2013 will be WiFi. The mobile device market is growing rapidly and customers are increasingly looking to WiFi as an alternative solution to overcome the high cost of mobile plans.
Expect to see an explosion of WiFi in 2013 as this technology matures as a commercial alternative to 4G. The successful Queensland train WiFi system should provide the impetus for Victoria and New South Wales to introduce train WiFi systems in 2013.
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