I always kind of dread the end of year prognostication. But it is that time of year, so I’ll take a shot at what I see coming in 2013. Cloud based storage and services will continue to go mainstream in 2013. Applications will need to support other cloud services — opening files from Dropbox, Box, or Google Docs natively — and interoperate with each other more seamlessly. Now, geeks like me have no problem mapping operations in cloud-native systems to more traditional apps, but as the cloud moves into the mainstream, typical consumers will have less patience. So if you’re building a cloud-based service, focus on making sure it plays nice with others.
The Mobile-Web Era. This will be the year that mobile phones overtake PCs as the most common Web-access device used world-wide, and the mobile world will be increasingly focused on Android. It currently has a six-to-one lead over iPhone. While startups still seem focused on the iPhone right now, with Android support coming later, that is changing. Startups need Android support out of the box. Mobile design is really starting to matter, and it will become a much bigger issue in the upcoming year. Mobile users don’t want to mess with websites formatted for larger displays, so good mobile design will be a competitive advantage for the companies that get it. Also, as HTML5 enables better experiences, I think we’ll start to see native web apps eat away at the app economy in 2013.
This post recently appeared on The Accelerators at the Wall Street Journal, where startup mentors discuss strategies and challenges of creating a new business.