Technalysis Research
Previous Blogs

May 13, 2014
Computing in the Cloud

May 6, 2014
Device Usage a Question of Degree

April 29, 2014
The Next Smartphone Battleground: Durability

April 22, 2014
BYOD: A Work in Progress

April 18, 2014
Insider Extra: AMD Back in the Groove

April 15, 2014
The Mobility Myth

April 9, 2014
BYOD Dilemma: Devices vs. Data

April 8, 2014
Insider Extra: Qualcomm's Evolving Story

April 1, 2014
A Wearables Forecast

March 25, 2014
Measuring Success in Wearables? It's Thousands of Thousands

March 24, 2014
Insider Extra: Intel Strategy Moves Forward

March 18, 2014
IOT: Islands of Isolated Things?

March 11, 2014
Wearables Cautionary Tale

March 4, 2014
The New Platform Battle

February 25, 2014
Watch What Happens

February 18, 2014
Talkin' 'bout Touchpads

February 11, 2014
The MultiOS Conundrum

February 4, 2014
Computing Redefined

January 28, 2014
The Apple Problem

January 21, 2014
The 2-in-1s People Might Want

January 14, 2014
The Post Tablet Era

January 7, 2014
The Innovation Asymptote

December 31, 2013
Top 5 2014 Predictions

December 17, 2013
Holiday Shoppers Gifting Themselves

December 10, 2013
Companion Apps

December 3, 2013
Aisle Check

TECHnalysis Research Blog

May 20, 2014
The Technological Divining Rod

Finding what it is for which you are searching can be a challenging task, particularly if you aren’t entirely sure what “it” is. Such is the case in the world of hardware devices, where companies seem to be struggling to figure out what the “next big thing” really is.

Oh sure, there are some obvious winners. Given the growing appreciation for and interest in larger smartphones, a large-screen Apple iPhone 6—or whatever the larger-sized version of the device is called—is bound to be a big hit. (FYI, I prefer the term “megaphone” versus the universally dreaded “phablet” for this category.) And as soon as we hit the right price points and get enough original content, I think 4K, or UltraHD, TVs will start to make a splash as well.
But there are a lot more categories where it isn’t at all clear that there’s a “there” there.

Wearables, for instance, still strike many people as a solution in search of a problem. As I’ve written in the past, there are numerous technological, social, and other challenges facing the wearables market that are going to be very difficult to overcome in the near future. Sure, it’s possible we’ll see a truly breakthrough product that changes everything, but the more I think about this category and the more I speak with others about it, the more concerned I am about its current and future prognosis.

In the traditional product categories like tablets and PCs, there’s a growing sense that the glory days are now over. May believe that future products will be modest evolutions that merely replace aging versions of devices from the same category for the same customers.

Part of the problem with important new breakthroughs stems from the fact that I believe we’ve been looking at things the wrong way. Too much of the industry and too much analysis of the industry focuses on specific devices or device categories or even individual companies. Instead, I’d argue, it’s time to take a step back and try to divine what it is that people want based on the activities they actually do. Of course, it’s hard to separate the activities from the devices used to perform those activities—it’s kind of like a macro version of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which says that the very process of observing something influences that which you are observing.

Nevertheless, I believe that by better understanding the activities in which people engage and, more than likely, how those activities are spread across a variety of different devices can help companies better understand what needs are unmet and, thus, need to be filled. Another part of the problem seems to be that too many companies are focused on solutions that only involve their products and ignore the range of other products that their potential customers have access to and regularly use. Now, more than ever, I believe the trick to finding successful new opportunities for hardware devices and the software and services which run on them, is to find and fill in the missing gaps between products instead of trying to do everything on their own.

Of course, research alone isn’t going to solve this problem. As Steve Jobs famously exemplified, some of the best products are things you never realized you wanted or needed until they came along. In other words, sometimes you just need to “feel” the need, before it’s there. But to put that technological divining rod to work, it helps to pull together all the information you can in order to piece together a vision of where things need to go. It’s not an easy task, but it’s something we need to see a lot more of in order to keep innovation moving forward.

.Here's a link to the original column:

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