Will the new year herald in the age of smartwatches and smart glasses, or will it see the death of the keyboard in favor of air gestures? We round up the 10 tech companies destined to have the biggest impact on our modern lives over the next 12 months.
Amazon the innovator
No longer just the world's largest online retailer, thanks to its growing range of Kindle products, the company can now genuinely call itself a tech innovator.
This year could be the year that Amazon launches everything from 3D-display smartphones and set-top boxes to standalone games consoles to complement its existing range of tablets. It has been linked with a host of potential new devices and one thing is certain: Amazon wants to take pride of place in most consumers' living rooms.
Apple prepares to fight for its crown
The company has been setting the tech agenda and dictating consumer behaviour for well over a decade — whether it's how we listen to music on the go, buy albums, make phone calls or browse the Web while watching the TV. The company still makes the best smartphone, tablet and personal computers that money can buy, but will it continue improving its existing products in 2014 or start another tech revolution?
Is 2014 going to be the year that Apple launches a smartwatch or smart TV? And what does it have planned for Prime Sense, the gesture technology company it just bought? Are we about to see Minority Report-style computers and tablets?
Facebook is starting to feel old
The world's largest social media network — 1 billion users and counting — is set to celebrate its 10th birthday in 2014 and, in the face of mounting competition from Twitter, Pinterest and even LinkedIn to an extent, it's going to have to do something to reassert itself as the social media top dog. But what? One thing is certain, 2014 will be the year that adverts start taking a more and more prominent position in users' newsfeeds.
The company has said it is going to focus on voice search this year, so expect its already impressive services, such as contextually-aware Google Now, to get even better still. There's also an outside chance that its Google Glass smart headset might actually be ready for a consumer launch before the end of the year. And Google being Google, there's a possibility that a smartwatch could be coming too.
All change at Microsoft
A big year for the company. It's about to get a new boss, and is about to launch a host of products, including potentially a wearable tech device. And we won't have long to wait to find out what, exactly. The company will be making a return to the International CES in January and has also called its annual BUILD conference for April, much earlier in the year than usual.
Sony finding its mojo
Slowly but surely, the company is finding its feet and building products that people want to buy, and 2014 will be the year that it puts all of its considerable weight behind pushing ultra-high definition television into the mainstream. Expect lots of new products, from phones and tablets to media players that can not only support the technology but that can also create UHD content.
Qualcomm eyeing your home and your wrist
The chipmaker that makes the highest-end Android handsets perform has already launched one smartwatch and intends to do so much more in 2014. Expect something to do with simplifying the connected home and the Internet of things and a 64-bit smartphone or tablet processor to challenge the one Apple has built for its latest iPhones and iPads.
Leap Motion making a leap into the mainstream
The company created a lot of buzz in 2013 with its Controller and while the finished product was great in theory, in practice it was a little less smooth or intuitive than the Minority Report-like experience it promised. However, this year could be the year that all of the bugs are ironed out. It will definitely be the year that the technology becomes integrated into tablets, and that could be a fascinating development, especially if Apple is planning to add gesture recognition technology to its own line of products via its Prime Sense acquisition.
YouTube moving with the music
Will 2014 be the year that it knocks out regular TV in the US? We'll have to wait and see. But this year will see the world's favourite online video platform launch a music and music streaming service and update its apps to enable offline video viewing. It will also see channels go live and direct.
Will Elon Musk continue driving high-tech changes?
The real-life Tony Stark just can't stop innovating and challenging the status quo. What will he attempt to pioneer in 2014? Teleportation? Consumer jetpacks? One thing is certain, a low-cost Tesla-badged electric car won't be on the list. That will be coming in 2015. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2013
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