Technology predictions for 2013
Here's a speculative look at a handful of events that may capture the imaginations of technology consumers, investors and innovators over the coming 12 months.
After revisiting my 2012 predictions, it's time to speculate on what 2013 might bring in the highly charged realm of technological innovation.
2012 has been a year in which everything mobile has moved to the forefront. Mobile hardware was at the heart of everything, led by Apple (AAPL) but also prominently featured in efforts by Google (GOOG) and Amazon.com (AMZN).
Square made noise with its advancements in mobile payments, a space in which it competes primarily with eBay's (EBAY) PayPal.
Mobile shopping on a variety of flash sites and daily-deal shopping were two manifestations of a trend that will remain a preoccupation in 2013, though there may be fewer products and more services, software and games.
Here is a speculative look at a handful of events and trends that may capture the imaginations of technology consumers, investors and innovators over the coming 12 months.
Twitter files to go public.
This isn't the same thing as going public, which Facebook (FB) did in mid-2012. Twitter will likely file its documents in preparation for an initial public offering in 2014.
Last year, I predicted Google would acquire the microblogging site, and I wouldn't be surprised if the search giant ultimately makes a run at Twitter, though I expect Twitter would prefer to remain independent.
Twitter's chief, Dick Costolo, has been adamant that the company isn't in a hurry to raise funds as it tries to maximize revenue while maintaining the user experience and value that Twitter has become. In mid-2012, Twitter said it "expects to generate at least $1 billion in sales in 2014."
I think we'll see Twitter file documents to go public late in 2013.
Zynga gets acquired.
The creator of Farmville and other social networking games has had a rough 2012. Zynga (ZNGA) has seen three-quarters of its market value disappear and key executives leave to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Facebook recently distanced itself from the game maker, a potentially fatal blow to its online games franchise.
The company says it has asked Nevada gambling regulators for a decision that could pave the way for it to enter the U.S. gambling market.
CEO Mark Pincus owns a significant portion of the company (50% of the voting rights as of August), despite having sold off significant amounts of stock in the initial public offering and subsequent offering earlier this year.
The stock trades at extremely cheap levels. The company has nearly enough cash (about $1.6 billion as of the end of September) to equal its market cap. Zynga is still generating cash flow from operations -- $30.1 million in the third quarter -- and it owns a valuable piece of real estate, its San Francisco headquarters.
Pincus recently retweeted a tweet that said going private should be an option for Zynga. Given the amount of cash it has on hand, a management-led buyout is a possibility.
Apple TV sets come to fruition.
People have been speculating about an Apple-branded television since Steve Jobs mentioned the idea in his biography. "I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson. "It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud." No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. "It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."
It looks as if Apple could roll out such a device in 2013. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicts Apple will launch a television set in November, retailing for between $1,500 and $2,000. "We expect the beauty of the design to be a feature, but the most important feature will be the ability to use the TV as the main interface for the living room across multiple devices," the analyst wrote in a note to clients. "We believe the TV will include Siri and FaceTime. The biggest item unlikely to come with the TV will be unbundled channels."
I think we may get one earlier than November, perhaps as early as March. Apple has moved up the iPad release to October, the iPhone is in September, and Macs may be refreshed in June. Spring is open on Apple's calendar.
Larry Ellison retires.
Though the Oracle (ORCL) chief has shown no signs of slowing down, he is a senior citizen. At 68, Ellison is one of the older chief executives in Silicon Valley, and it's not like he needs the money. Ellison is so rich, he recently bought his own Hawaiian island.
I don't know whether Ellison is going to step down next year, but I wouldn't be surprised if he does. Perhaps the death of his friend Steve Jobs has got him ruminating about life.
If he does decide to call it quits, my two best guesses as to his replacement are already with the company -- co-presidents Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, who joined Oracle in 2005 and 2010, respectively. Ellison has said Catz would be his successor "if I dropped dead tomorrow" but he's also said the replacement should be an engineer, a qualification neither Catz nor Hurd can claim.
Intel becomes a major foundry.
Intel has a few courses of action: It can continue going head-to-head with ARM microprocessors, it can license ARM's technology, or it can become a foundry, manufacturing chips for third-party companies.
I suspect that Intel will ramp up its foundry business for companies looking to produce their own chip sets, as Apple is doing with its A-series chips for iPhones and iPads. Intel is already producing chips for smaller parties, but nothing like what Apple would need for its consumer products. That would make Intel one of the largest foundries in the world, competing with the likes of Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM).
I don't think we'll see Apple cave to Intel on using -x86 architecture in any iDevices, as the app ecosystem has been created using ARM-based technology. And I can't see Intel licensing ARM's Cortex processors. Intel will do anything to get a piece of the Apple pie, particularly as rumors hint of Apple moving away from Intel altogether.
Go to TheStreet.com for five more technology predictions for 2013.
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