I always look forward to this article because as well as getting things right I also love to get things wrong or spark debate occasionally!

2013 saw some of the fastest, biggest change to our market for years and whilst last year I already talked about how change was the theme word, I think “Disruption” will be the one for 2014 as we see things go even further, deeper and faster.  In fact I would go as far as saying that there’s going to be a lot more going on in 2014.

We sat down as a business this week and came up with about 30 ideas for this blog, so we asked some customers and suppliers too and distilled it down to our top 10 predictions for 2014!

We want to hear from you, so please add your own, have a go at ours or simply tell us if you think we have it wrong or right.  Just use the comments section below.

1. Android marches on

Android is now 80% of the mobile market globally and even in the UK and western world it’s still munching up the market at about 50% now.  People know it, businesses want it and trends like BYOD are pushing it as the defacto, regardless of any security issues people think it still has.  Rugged devices take the security issues away by disconnecting the play store and Microsoft have been so lax in data capture so I think 2014 will see Android create some firm foundations into the rugged market.

2. Microsoft flops again

Windows mobile is still alive and kicking but does anyone here know what the OS is doing and what’s next?  Microsoft did launch it’s successor last year but so far there has been very little buzz, even on twitter, very little going on and still no handsets or anyone talking to us about anything they installed it on so we’re certainly thinking it’s not a recipe for success.  I think 2014 will see Microsoft lose it’s grip in the rugged market. (yes I did just say that!)

3. Rugged becomes the norm

We all know we need rugged for business but do we really need to have 0.5KG hulking devices to get it?  I think this year we’ll see the reality of “inherently rugged” innovations like bendy screens, antimicrobial screens, rugged in small sizes and simply rugged enough.

4. Cheaper, faster, smaller, better – (Insert Daft Punk tune here!)

If you look at some of the biggest manufacturers last year they hardly touched anything above the £500 mark but brought out about 10 devices that were all aimed at the lower end of the market.  These were basically rugged smartphones, cheap, less quality but they had the fundamental power and functionality to run complex mobile applications.  Add to this battery technology is getting better all the time, wireless and screen technology is also getting more frugal so we don’t need bigger batteries either.

5. Business not hardware focussed

OK, so I’m preaching to the converted but this year we’ll see businesses refining their mobile solutions much better with shorter, cheaper hardware turn around cycles so they have hardware that keeps up with their business innovation.  There’ll still be many business models that demand a £1000 5 year rugged PDA cycle but the trend is that innovation is the key not hardware.

6. Repair and service change

We’re simply not selling the support contracts we used to because mobile customers are changing and a lot of them don’t like paying for stuff they might not use, un yet customers are getting more demanding with support as their business processes get pushed into the mobile world.  2014 will herald a change in how support and repair will need to be delivered and who will win and who will lose.  Watch out for some super new innovative products in this space that answer this need.

7. Choice becomes infinite

Choosing a rugged handheld computer has never been more difficult with now a dazzling array of products that are all different, all have USP’s but all harder to understand.  There’s certainly more to life than Motorola but finding the best products will become more and more difficult for consumers.

8. The rise of the small and niche!

Innovation will be key in 2014 more than ever and brands like Motorola and Honeywell are not capable of innovating like the smaller companies are so seeking out the brands and resellers who are doing wonderful stuff with brands you might not know so well are the ones who will thrive this year.

9. NFC and RFID also marches on

Largely due to how Android makes this so easy I think we’ll see a big push into the RFID markets this year with more and more solutions using it.  RFID is not just a barcode replacement technology any more and 2-14 will see some big changes and some innovative products all with RFID at their core.

10. The age of automation begins!

2014 will see the introduction of a whole load of new, weird devices that will start to take away the relevance of the PDA.  Google glass, wrist watches, smart badges and buttons are all just the start of seeing devices that embrace the era of automation which will be upon in 2104.  This will impact our market hugely and will slowly but surely make us realise how irrelevant the PDA or smartphone will be in the not so distant future.

So there it is! We’d love to hear what you think or if you can add anything.  Just use the comments below

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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