By Anton D. Nagy | December 16, 2013 3:48 AM
We’re slowly leaving another year behind us, and what a year 2013 was!
We couldn’t have asked for more, yet, we’re excitedly looking forward to seeing what 2014 will bring, and we know it’s going to be even better. Smartphones, tablets, phablets, curved screens, convertibles, fingerprint readers, acquisitions, companies rising, falling, and I’ve just realized I could fill the entire page with keywords descriptive for 2013.
It’s a Pocketnow tradition to look back, every year end, at what happened, good or bad, and, of course, forward, to what we think we can foresee for the year to come. We’ll have recaps for 2013 and predictions for 2014, of course with an Editorial twist, of what the team considers worthy of mentioning.
We’ll have something for everyone! Every day this week, expect a new piece gathering the thoughts of our team members regarding the topic at hand. We’re kicking it off with the biggest winners in 2013, and here’s what the Pocketnow team members think:
“My biggest winner for 2013 is… BlackBerry”
Call me jaded, but hey, I’m staring down the barrel of unemployment in T-minus 15 days, so that is from where I interpreted this category. That being said, my biggest winner for 2013 is… BlackBerry.
Now, stay with me here. BlackBerry woke up from a sleep that made Rip Van Winkle look like a cat nap and hit the ground running with a pair of pretty solid, though still introductory devices. When they failed to gain any traction in the mobile industry, every analyst, tech writer, and even my dog predicted it was going down like a cheerleader on prom night. And yet, they’re still around and they’ll still be employed longer than me, which no one in Vegas would have bet on.
Sure Samsung and Apple sold a few million phones, LG made a nice butt-phone, and HTC redefined modern phone design. But the real winners in my world are the ones who saw death knocking on their front doors and told the grim reaper to go sell crazy somewhere else.
Paying the mortgage = win.
“In 2013 I was most impressed with all that Nokia has done”
I tend to see Nokia as the biggest winner of 2013 even though they kind of lost by having to sell out to Microsoft towards the end of the year. Their hardware releases and software releases have really stepped up the innovation in a big way. Their high end phone, the Lumia 1020, is so far ahead of the competition in camera image quality as well as a few other little things like video recording audio quality, lossless zoom, RAW formats, etc. that there won’t be serious competition in that area for a long time. Having one high-end device isn’t enough though. Nokia released a full range of great phones in 2013 for every price range. One of my favorites is actually the most popular Windows Phone in the world. The Nokia Lumia 520 is the lowest of the low-end when it comes to smartphone pricing, but somewhat surprisingly, the device itself is much better than you would expect. I’d say in some ways, it’s better than many smartphones that cost 12 times as much. At $49 -$99 with no subsidized contract, there’s hardly any reason not to get one.
In fact, Nokia’s extra software enhancements add a huge amount of value to all of their smartphones from the cheapest of the cheap to the crème de la crème in photographer’s phones. Nokia’s MixRadio app and service is a big step forward for music services. Nothing else comes close to what you get for free there. Then there’s Nokia’s HERE apps and services which have grown significantly in 2013 and have had some very useful features come along such as “My Commute”, “Find my car”, and all sorts of augmented reality interactions. So yes, in 2013 I was most impressed with all that Nokia has done. Hopefully we’ll see that hardcore innovation come through with the Microsoft deal.
Anton D. Nagy
“Nokia innovated more in the Windows Phone segment than Microsoft”
In my opinion, Nokia and Microsoft are the big winners of 2013, and I’m not referring to the deal between the two companies where the Windows Phone-maker acquired the Finnish phone manufacturer’s devices and services division.
Windows Phone is finally starting to gain market share. It has established itself as a strong third option, third ecosystem, and that was the dream behind the initial Microsoft-Nokia strategic alliance from 2013. In some regions, it has even managed to take the second spot from a slowly declining Apple.
Innovations like PureView (regardless if it is the one on the Lumia 1020, or the 925, 1520), a solid tablet offering that serves as an alternative to the Surface, exceptional build quality, support, and overall user experience, are what brought Nokia to the top of my list. Microsoft has just been dragged along, and I am under the impression that Nokia managed to innovate much more in the Windows Phone segment than Microsoft.
The runner-up in my book is Google and LG: Android 4.4 KitKat (and its point upgrades), the G2, G Flex, G Pad, and, of course, the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7, are solid offerings which keep the competition going.
“LG needed to be on the map for this year, and they’ve succeeded in doing so”
It was LG that was the biggest winner this year, thanks to strong momentum starting with the G Pro, then the G2, then the Nexus 5.
Its tablet for this year, the G Pad 8.3, has won acclaim, and its G Flex smartphone has captured our imagination on what the future of phones might be like.
LG needed to be on the map for this year, and they’ve succeeded in doing so.
“2013 has been an odd year”
2013 has been an odd year. If we measured winners by their sales figures, Samsung and Apple would be at the top of the list as always, and they deserve that right.
That said, I’d like to give a special shout out to HTC, LG and Motorola. They didn’t win, but they made some very bold moves into making their 2014 a more prosperous year. Devices like the HTC One, the LG G Flex, Moto X and Moto G have all laid a very solid foundation that has all of us on the edge of our seats waiting for their next move.
Let’s hope they do a better job marketing them next year though.
“Google did it again”
The Nexus 5 is a world-class smartphone at a reasonable cost and the 2013 Nexus 7 is one of the best tablets for the price.
Android 4.4 KitKat runs smoother than ever, and all the core Android apps are getting regular updates that bring new and exciting features as well as better performance and faster speeds.
The biggest winner of 2013 is Google with its Android software and Nexus devices.
“One of the bigger winners this year has been the plucky Pebble outfit”
I know you’re probably expecting a smartphone or tablet OEM to fill this slot, but if you ask me, one of the bigger winners this year has been the plucky Pebble outfit. The company behind the world’s biggest Kickstarter campaign sold over 85,000 smart watches before the year was half over, essentially creating a product category out of nothing. Sure, more feature-dense smart watches existed before Pebble (and Samsung entered the market soon after with its own surprisingly-capable entrant), but for me, none of those stories capture the thrill of a small handful of people who decided to make something great … and succeeded. Whether you value the smart watch category or not, it’s hard to argue that Pebble isn’t one of 2013′s biggest success stories in tech.
Chief News Editor
“I’ve got to hand it to Nokia this year”
Windows Phone still has a ways to go, but I’ve got to hand it to Nokia this year – its 2013 lineup is really worth getting excited about. For the first time, I’m finding myself really interested in Windows Phone hardware. I’m still not making the switch, but I’m actually a little jealous of the people who do enjoy the platform because they have access to some really great devices.
I’ve also got to hand it to Google, especially when it comes to what it’s been doing with hardware. The Nexus 7 and Nexus 5 are big improvements over last year’s models, and after a bumpy start, this whole Play Edition experiment really looks like it might have some legs to it. While I’ve criticized a number of its decisions on the software and services side from a user’s viewpoint, I think it’s been making some really smart decisions to help grow its mobile influence.
“It’s a toss-up between Motorola, Nokia, and HTC”
…all of which have been (and still are, for what it’s worth) struggling. Samsung is a winner, only because it’s dominating the mobile industry. But these three now-underdogs have made innovations which have both changed the course of the industry ahead and left us drooling over the thought of what’s next.
Case in point: PureView. Who doesn’t want to see the next generation of Nokia’s mobile image sensors? The HTC One successor. The HTC One was a phenomenal smartphone. The hardware alone is enough to make us drool. What’s next for the hardware, UltraPixel, and Sense? And the Moto X. Also a fantastic, underrated smartphone. The user experience is off the charts, and the software features are not only cool to show off, they’re also helpful in day to day use.
These companies left us wanting more and thinking about how smartphones can improve, not just how specifications can get better. And that, in my book at least, makes them winners.
The Pocketnow Reader
“Who are your winners in 2013?”
We couldn’t have had more contrasting opinions, and that’s one of the main characteristics of Pocketnow: diversity.
Let us know of your thoughts in the comments below. Upvote your favorites and we’ll update this post to reflect your biggest winners for 2013. Top three upvoted devices, platforms, OEMs, will make it here, you know, for posterity!