Technology trends for 2012 will see a booming tablet industry

By Katya Slepian
[contributor]

The Amazon Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy Tab will be stiff competitors to the iPad for tablets this year. KODOMUT/FLICKR.

1. The rise of the tablet.

In 2010, if you wanted a tablet, you got an iPad. Same thing in 2011.

While there were other options, the iPad was still the coolest tablet around.

Now, however, Apple is facing some serious competition from Asus Transformer Prime, the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Samsung Galaxy Tab; especially now that experts are predicting that people are going to be using their tablets for a lot more than reading, checking Facebook and playing Angry Birds. It isn’t going to be about the coolest app anymore, but about what the tablet as a whole is capable of doing.

Soon college kids won’t be buying a laptop –– they’ll be getting a tablet with an attachable keyboard instead.

2. Blackberry slowing down, Microsoft catching up.

Even a couple years ago Blackberries were still a legitimate competitor on the smartphone market. But that was back before the Android became such a huge competitor, and back when Windows Mobile wasn’t the sleek, shiny and downright impressive thing that the new Windows Phone promises to be.

According to comScore, RIM’s share of the global smartphone market has dropped from 19.7 per cent to 16.6 per cent between August and November of 2011, while both Google and Apple have risen. Microsoft has had a 0.5 per cent drop, but analysts remain positive about the potential of the Windows Phone.

The bottom line is that Microsoft is at least moving, while Blackberry says its next generation of phones won’t be out till late 2012. And that may just be too long a wait.

3. The spread of (real) 4G.

If you’re currently using a smartphone with a data plan, it’s probably running on a 3G network. Many providers advertise their networks as 4G, but that’s down to a change in the definition and not because the networks are 4G.

According to the CBC, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), “decided that 3G technologies substantially better in performance and capability than earlier 3G technologies could be classified as 4G.”

Basically, as long as a network 3G service now is better than their 3G service wo years ago, they can call it 4G.

Let’s take Telus and Bell as our examples. Their first “4G” networks, launched in 2009, claimed to have download speeds of 21 megabytes per second (MBps). However, if you read the small print, they admit that the average download speeds will be 4-6 MBps (Telus) and 3.5-8 MBps (Bell). Their upgraded 4G networks claim speeds of up to 42 MBps and but in the small print you’ll see that the average speed is 7-14 MBps. That’s better than 3G, but not by much. My iPhone 4 – running on Telus’ 3G network – can get up to 5.61 MBps, which is the same as their old average “4G” speeds and not too far behind their new ones.

The point? In 2012, you can look forward to real 4G networks, called LTE, or long-term evolution, much like what Verizon users down in the United States are enjoying right now.

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