- The technology industry may have high hopes for the arrival of cutting-edge technologies in 2012 but ABI believes that many of these innovations will take much longer to reach mass market penetration than others are predicting. Years ago mobile phones used to be robust and could withstand falls from over two meters but that was before smartphones and their large glass displays replaced the polycarbonate plastics found in feature phones. While there have been significant improvements in glass technology since the first range of smartphones arrived on the market, ABI believes consumers won’t find smashproof phones on the market in 2012 -- mobile manufacturers beg to differ. There are a number of "life proof" shock-resistant smartphones available on the market today including the Motorola Defy+, the Motorola Titanium, the Samsung Galaxy Xcover, the Casio G’zOne Commando and the Sony Experia Active and smartphone makers are experimenting with new technology too that will make these handheld devices even more indestructible. Consumer electronics companies such as Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba have already shown off early prototypes of smartphones with flexible displays that can be twisted and bent without breaking. Samsung is bullish on the technology and says it will have tablets and smartphones with flexible screens ready by 2012. Smartphones and tablets have been a closely watched point of interest throughout 2011 with many high-profile launches (and a number of high-profile failures). Many people around the world have grown to love their tablet devices but despite their increased importance within the computing market, tablets are still not capable enough to become a mass-media solution, insists ABI. "With Wi-Fi being the predominant form of Internet connectivity, media tablets tend to stay at home during work and school hours along with the family pet. As an incremental device being used alongside laptops and smartphones, the use case to replace these existing devices has yet to materialize," comments Jeff Orr, group director, Mobile Devices, ABI. Likewise, people will not rely on on their mobile phones for internet access in 2012 -- or ever, predicts Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst, Consumer Mobility at ABI. He believes an influx of cheaper laptops and tablets will keep consumers connected to the internet into the future. In November Google opened the front door to indoor maps, taking searchers inside shops, airports and malls. Nokia, CSR, Ericsson, Mexens Technology and NextNav have also provided solutions for indoor mapping, but these technologies -- along with relevant indoor location-based marketing -- will not reach critical mass for a few more years. "What we will likely see in 2012 are isolated mobile applications and services around individual high-traffic public areas like airports and malls. The benefits are two-fold, with a new way to engage with the end user and improve their experience, while also providing key analytics on user behavior within these buildings," forecasts Patrick Connolly, senior analyst, Telematics and Navigation at ABI. 2012 is building up to be a big year for the gaming market with a number of long-awaited game releases on the horizon but consumers who are hoping to get their hands on next-generation game consoles such as the Microsoft Kinect 2 or the Sony PS4 will probably have to hold on until at least 2013. There was a big push to make 2011 the year of 3D but even with a notable list of 3D film releases, the arrival of 3D-only TV stations and lots of new 3D TVs making their way into the market, consumers were not overly enthusiastic about the trend. ABI says consumer attitudes towards 3D technology will be much the same in 2012. So what will be on the cards in 2012? A study by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) predicts that wireless and mobile devices will be the feature of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. According to the study tablets are "hot" and cloud computing is still popular. Chip maker Intel says super-thin, ultra-light, high performance laptops called "Ultrabooks" will be the star of 2012. The company has said it will focus on bringing a new range of touchscreen, Windows 8-based Ultrabooks to market.
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