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4-min read

Tech in 2014: The year of nothing

The year has almost passed by, and we are still waiting for something that we can remember the year by.

Ankit Tuteja | IBNLive.com@tutejankit

Updated:December 22, 2014, 12:03 PM IST
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Tech in 2014: The year of nothing
The year has almost passed by, and we are still waiting for something that we can remember the year by.

2014 has been a happening year. In politics, in sports, in cinema and elsewhere. But not in consumer technology. The year has almost passed by, and we are still waiting for something that we can remember the year by.

Though we saw a lot of new products coming, new categories emerging and new initiatives sprouting this year, but nothing that could be called a trendsetter - something that we have witnessed in the past years. The last three years, starting from 2011, have been labelled "the year of smartphones," "the year of tablets" and "the year of phablets," respectively. This year, however, was anticipated to be the year of wearables. But...

Wearable devices including smartwatches and fitness bands have been in the market for a couple of years, but the prime reason we had our eyes set on wearables this year was because of the announcement of the first wearable device from Apple, the company that had already revolutionised two major categories - smartphones and tablets - in the last few years. And Google's announcement of Android Wear, a version of Android designed specifically for wearables, fuelled expectations.

But neither the Apple Watch nor the watches based on Android Wear could grab our attention for very long. The Moto 360 may be the best looking Android Wear smartwatch, but it fails to deliver on the utility front. The Apple Watch, on the other hand, does not look promising and it, in fact, is yet to hit the markets. The Pebble Steel could be the best smartwatch of the year, but even that falls short of being what an ideal smartwatch should be. All of these have merely been an extension of the phones on the wrist. There is not even a single watch that I could think of shelling out my hard-earned money for.

Wearables dashed our hopes and the smartphones this year remained as unexciting as BlackBerry's journey over the past few years. While companies were seen employing efforts to innovate smartphones, nothing turned out to be convincing and appealing.

The last few years have witnessed smartphones going bigger, bezel getting thinner, and the engines getting faster, this year, therefore, there wasn't left anything much for the companies to work on these fronts. The smartphones were already bigger and screens were almost edge-to-edge, and thus, the focus of the tech companies in 2014 was seen shifting to other body parts of the phone. Two specifications companies were seen working on were the thickness of the phone and and the front camera.

Almost every company was seen either giving their phones a thinner built or equipping them with a quality wide-angle front camera. Consequently, a new term became popular - "selfie phones" - which, however, became just another marketing gimmick. Phones with a slimmer profile qualifies as a good idea, but not a redefining one.

While the first half of the year marked the flagship phone launches with upgraded specs and new gimmicky features from tech behemoths, it was in the second half that we got to see two major developments. Making a historic move, Apple introduced phablets and Samsung went a step ahead with its curved edge display - but neither of them could deliver what we expected. The side display on the Note Edge might be a next step in the smartphone display technology, but this year it only appeared to be an experimental idea in its initial stages.

While the ruling players of the smartphone arena failed to impress us, it was a new entrant that introduced us to a fresh innovation. Amazon, which forayed into the smartphone market this year, introducing a first-of-its-kind 3D phone, Fire, that sports multiple cameras on the front. The phone didn't take off as there was no ecosystem to take advantage of the innovation and no market to cater to, but it might be a good start to offer a new approach to smartphones. But for this year, it was a clear fail.

Another popular category - tablet PCs - that has evolved over the last few years suffered a massive slowdown this year. With the widespread adoption of large-screen smartphones, the decline in the tablet market was inevitable. Many of you may be owning one, but I have never been convinced with the idea of having a tablet. A large-screen phone serves my needs and for other set of requirements that demand precision, I have my notebook. This year further diminished my possibility of ever owning a tablet.

And with more companies introducing hybrid devices, the tablet market might die a slow death.

With portability and multitasking at its core, hybrid devices may soon replace the traditionally designed notebooks - while eating into the tablet space at the same time. Companies like Lenovo, Asus and Microsoft were seen pushing more hybrid devices in the market this year. The 2-in-1 devices may have failed to capture a broad audience this year, but it has potential to become the next-generation of PCs. We expect to see more innovative and price-friendly convertibles from other tech companies too next year.

Talking about the popular social networks and messaging apps, they have only been decked up with new looks and a mix of good and not-so-useful features.

All in all, the world consumer technology, this year remained sluggish and uneventful. 2014 was the year of nothing.

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