A Tech Trend You Shouldn't Ignore in 2013

In the following video, Brendan Byrnes discusses emerging tech trends across 2013 with Eric Bleeker. As Eric notes, 2013 is the year in which we're seeing the final pieces of the puzzle put in place for a "connected home" to finally become a reality. A transcript follows the video. 

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Brendan Byrnes: Hey, Fools, I'm Brendan Byrnes and I'm joined today by Eric Bleeker, our senior technology analyst. Eric, let's not beat around the bush. Let's just get right into it. We were talking earlier about your top tech trend for 2013. What is it?

Eric Bleeker: I think you really have to look at connected homes. What do I mean by "connected homes?" People, right now, they want to think about all these different mobile devices as discrete ideas. You've got smartphones, it's different than tablets, and then you've got connected televisions.

What if I were to tell you they're all coming together? The main idea here is, iOS, for example, it's a platform. If I'm a company -- let's just say Sonos, that does wireless speakers -- if I build an application for iOS, all of a sudden iOS becomes the control for a connected device across the entire household.

You look at that idea, especially with tablets, as something that sits in the home as a larger form factor -- it's relatively cheap now, with an iPad Mini starting at $330 -- they've essentially become the controller for the entire house.

You've always seen these ideas. "The dishwasher is connected to the Internet. The oven is connected to the Internet." It was always a dumb idea because there was never really a central control. They always had terrible user interfaces.

Where does this move in the next generation? Well, I think you really have to look at televisions; 2011 was the year of the TV, 2012 was the year of the TV, 2013 -- you get a pattern of failure, but I think what can really happen this year is a company like Apple, and not only Apple but Google as well with Android, are really pushing back.

As soon as they can secure the right kind of content deals, they're going to move those user interfaces to televisions, eliminating that last, final hurdle of why you won't want one. All of a sudden, you're going to have all of the screens in your house connected to this central idea of, basically, the tablet as a control "mother ship."

When you think about, "How big can a tablet market get?" Well, it's not just the idea of tablets as a light PC. It's also tablets as the mother ship of the home. I think that's a really powerful idea.

Brendan: Who is this a big opportunity for? You mentioned Apple, and maybe Google through their Android operating system tablets. Who are maybe some other companies that could capitalize on this?

Eric: I think Microsoft could capitalize, if done right. The problem is they don't really have a high [mobile] install base, and install base is huge in mobile, because all of a sudden the cycle becomes very virtuous. If you have the tablet and you have the smartphone, it kind of locks people into a television.

Microsoft could be very successful, say, with Windows connected to a television, but with such a low smartphone base with Windows Phone and tablets, they're really going to need to connect this to Windows 8 in a really fluid way if they want it to become a player.

Where Google kind of falls down a bit is with Android being smartphone dominant, they've been terrible with past efforts on television, and also they have lower tablet share.

I think an idea like this really begins in the United States. The United States is the breeding ground for this idea. It's where you lock down content first, and who's dominant in the United States? Apple is dominant in the United States.

I see them as a very early leader in this idea, and it's kind of a trend right now. With Apple being really beaten down, investors aren't maybe thinking about how all these devices feed into each other and create a growth opportunity for the company across the next five years.

Brendan: All right, great. Eric Bleeker, thank you for your time. For more analysis, head on over to Fool.com. Thanks for watching!


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  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2013, at 4:44 PM, TMFTopDown wrote:

    Hey Eric,

    Through the Xbox platform, I think Microsoft has potential to enter the home-automation/set-top box market in a big way. The company recently acquired R2 Studios and the Xbox has the installed base you mention. It might not be portable, but maybe that doesn't matter so much for the living room, especially if it can be integrated with WP8.

    -- Steve H.

  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2013, at 5:39 PM, lanceim59 wrote:

    One tech trend I will ignore is watching these dumb Motley Fool videos.

  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2013, at 10:36 PM, vv234 wrote:

    Not all Motley Fool videos are dumb. I like those round table type of videos where the commentators show some experience and intelligence.

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