Jan 1, 2013

Singapore - Fast Forward 2013 for 2012 survivors

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So we've survived the end of the world that was predicted for December 21, and on December 31 we look at the end of yet another year.

And what a year it was.

While there were no major tech scares in the form as wildfire viruses, there was a shake-up with the arrival of Windows 8.

The total refresh in the operating system that adheres to touch and gestures while extending itself across screens from desktop to tablet, also signaled Microsoft's foray into hardware with the introduction of its 'Surface' tablet.

The Operating System itself, however still leaves something to be desired as users almost need a road map to navigate.

At the enterprise level, the OS isn't expected to take hold in 2013, with Gartner analysts saying that most enterprises won't roll out Windows 8 in large numbers until 2014 at the earliest.

However, the Windows refresh did open the window to a new world of devices that gave users the best of two worlds - tablets and personal computing, with PCs and laptops that respond to gestures and convertible laptops.

The old divide between Mac and Windows was clearly left behind in 2012 with new rivals, Apple and Samsung, fighting turf wars as the Korean manufacturer led Asia's tech rise with world domination, at least in the mobile market.

Nimble as ever, Apple chose a divide and conquer strategy, going for world domination with the power of lightning - the new and tiny power connector; sound - the launch of iTunes in 119 countries and freshly moulded in-ear EarPods; sight - retina displays on almost everything from the iPad to iMac and Macbook pro; and style to the power of i - from iPods for music lovers covering all sizes and budgets, with the iPod touch and nano, as well as the iPhone 5 and iPad mini.

Exhausting as the Apple line-up seems, there could be more from the team at Cupertino come 2013.

Although Apple never lets the cat out of the bag, some say there may well be yet another cat to follow in the paws of Mountain Lion (OS 10).

With the iPod nano growing in size, the fashionable geek who won't part with the 2011 music player that became popular instead as a watch, could have a new accessory to flash with the rumoured iWatch.

And since Apple TV was missed in the year's makeover list, it could have its turn in 2013 especially with reports of the company testing out TV prototypes.

With iPad's 'mini me', Microsoft's 'Surface' and a slew of slates in all brands and sizes, 2013 will most likely see tablets becoming more of a norm rather than an exception in the lives of users.

According to Lenovo's Singapore General Manager, Jessie Quek, the trend to watch is BYO (Bring Your Own) in the case of devices and the workplace.

"As the younger generation, who are digital natives at heart, enter the workforce, they will expect that their organisations to allow them to bring their own gadgets, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, to the workplace" said the 20-year IT veteran.

"Born and bred in the Internet generation, they consider access from any device and to any data or app, as their right and not a privilege. Companies will now need to balance the security needs with these employee demands."

Also noting the trend, security software firm Trend Micro, has forecast that come 2013, managing security will become more complex with "users breaking down the PC monoculture by embracing a wider variety of platforms, each with its own user interface, OS and security model."

"Today, an increasingly number of consumers are embracing cloud and mobile services. We need to help these users have the freedom to enjoy their digital lifestyles safely yet effortlessly" said Akihiko Omikawa, Board Member and Executive Vice President of Global Consumer Business for Trend Micro.

With more than 200 million Asian Facebook users and the Asia Pacific home to more than 1 billion Internet subscribers and close to 3 billion mobile subscribers, the security firm is setting its sights in 2013 and beyond, on its consumer business.

At the same time, Trend acknowledges that the issue of managing the security of devices will be a challenge for both small business systems as well as large enterprise networks, with a continued momentum expected of the Asia Pacific market in tablet and smartphone adoption.

"This divergence in computing experience will further expand opportunities for cybercriminals and other threat actors to gain profit, steal information, and sabotage their targets' operations" warned Trend Micro, which forecasts more cybercriminal activity through legitimate cloud services and the appearance of security threats in unexpected places.

2013 will also see the volume of malicious and high-risk Android apps hitting a million says the security firm which sees Android possibly dominating the mobile space the same way that Windows led the desktop/laptop arena, as users lean more towards mobile computing.

With more on-the-go users, Lenovo expects the demand for thin-and-light devices to rise.

Does that sound the death knell for desktop computing, as some have forecast for the future of tech?

"We have always believed that the PC has a critical role to play in the digital lives of millions of people and businesses" said the Country General Manager of Lenovo Singapore.

"At the same time, devices will come onto the scene that offer different experiences and applications but have the "heart" of a PC. This is what we call the PC+ Era."

According to Jessie Quek, the company will rely on its "protect and attack" strategy in 2013 and will invest more than ever in innovation.

As for Trend Micro, the only strategy of attack and protect for 2013 is reserved for end-users with a watchful eye advised on Africa which is making an appearance as a new safe harbor for cybercriminals.

And though it won't talk of cyberwars, it forecasts more destructive politically motivated electronic-based attacks with culprits being hard to discover.

But it won't be a case of out with the old in the new year.

According to Trend Micro, data breaches will remain a threat and malware will continue to be a problem but appearing with more sophisticated ways of deployment.

2013 is also expected to see users moving from the computer or tablet screen to the big TV screen as the digital lifestyle extends its footprint.

While the circle extends, so will the reach of cybercriminals warn security experts, pointing out that consumers are an attractive target and new technologies provide new venues for exploitation, especially with TV manufacturers not as capable as computing firms in fixing security holes as they are discovered.

But with computing firms making their appearance in digital lifestyle products, there could be some security reprieve as consumers enjoy more bridges, and less divides, in the tech world of 2013 and beyond.


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