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Apple Watch: The smartphone war has been well and truly won...

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By no one. It's still a new platform, everyone has their favourites and a lot is going to happen - and there is a long road of possibility stretching ahead. Pocketable devices are already capable of so much - Apple making the iPhone 5s, the iPad air and the new mini 64-bit has raised computing power considerably, meaning the roadmap is potentially lengthy. In three years time, we won't know ourselves ... actually, we'll know ourselves better than ever before as self-monitoring spirals upwards.

For now it seems media scrutiny has stayed on innovation, while Apple - contentiously for some - seems to have reined in its scope a little to concentrate of making existing devices better for existing Apple users. But rumours of an Apple smart watch and even an Apple Television still simmer.

Over on the Android platform, prices keep falling on hardware so that nowadays pretty much anyone can own a smartphone, but there can be confusion of iterations of Android operating systems and they run an ever-expanding raft of different devices from different vendors.

Apple has one system, iOS, across all its iDevices and keeps such a tight rein on that plus the guidelines to run apps within it, stability and utility remain consistent. If this sounds limiting, the number of Apple apps available for legitimate download for devices based on iOS recently passed the million mark. You can almost guarantee there is an iOS app for everything.

If your quest is the latest and greatest, you might have cause to spurn Apple. If you like well-made, if expensive, devices capable of a lot, developed through a process of refinement rather than aiming for whizz-bang, yet able to run that staggering number of apps that fit the Apple guidelines, then you'll be as happy as I am.

Not that I'm in a tiny group. With Apple's flagship, thumbprint-scanning iPhone 5s stock at almost 100 per cent, Apple's latest iPhone is selling well. At current rates, by 2017 two-thirds of all Americans will own an iPhone, according to Asymco's Horace Dediu.

A lot can change in three years, but Dediu bases his calculation on three factors: the rate of growth seen in the smartphone market so far will continue at the same pace. Second, saturation point for smartphones will be 90 per cent (no technology ever achieves 100 per cent).

The third assumes Apple's market share will remain roughly constant, which is impossible to predict. Blackberry looked pretty unassailable four years ago. But Dediu points out that iPhone growth has pretty much exactly mirrored the smartphone market as a whole.

If you focus on hardware instead of operating system, it boils down to two major players - Apple and Samsung. Apple's share of the US smartphone market climbed from July to October of this year, but only by a small margin, according to new data from comScore. The newest report showed a 0.2 percentage point increase for Apple, to 40.6 per cent, which means Apple remains the top smartphone hardware manufacturer in the US by a very wide margin.

But Samsung continues to climb, up 1.3 percentage points to 25.4 per cent of overall share. In terms of platform market share, Android is still king with 52.2 percent, while Apple remains in second place at 40.6 per cent ... mirroring, of course, its hardware sales, since Apple devices only run Apple operating systems.

China has been a massive market for Apple. A survey of consumers in China has found that an anticipated deal to sell the iPhone with carrier China Mobile could incrementally boost Apple's handset sales in 2014 by 12 million or more units, with potential for more. However, Samsung is also perfectly poised to reap benefits there. Apple had a rush of sales in China when the iPhone 5c and, particularly, the more expensive 5s came out, but that will probably soon settle into the usual Samsung-Apple rivalry.

A little closer to home, I asked Edwin Herman at the Boys of Tech podcast where he thought things were heading. Boys of Tech is a long-running NZ tech-focused blog made in Wellington - I will tell you much more about the podcast - how to get it and how it works - in the next two posts to tide you over the festive season. I'd rather let Edwin consider the tech future than me - as many of you know, I often can't see the forest for the trees.

"Apple has good products and a strong brand. Both are important for Apple to continue on its path of success. I think Apple needs to keep innovating, however. This is probably more important now than ever before. Other products and services are now starting to give Apple a run for its money, and so Apple has to keep innovating to remain an industry leader. Sometimes Apple seems a little slow off the mark (cloud apps, cloud services, dictation built into its desktop OS, to name a few examples).

"I think Apple is positioned strongly to enter further into the living room. A television, a full-featured media player including recording functionality, perhaps even a games console. It's difficult, because diversifying too much is not a good thing, but then nor is keeping your focus too narrow. Remember back when the iPod first came out? The fact that Apple built something that wasn't a computer certainly caused some surprise. More recently Apple moved into the phone market. So it's not inconceivable that Apple continues to look at new markets like some of the examples I listed earlier.

"Google seems to be making the right moves, but it's harder to figure out where it should be going next. [The company] seems to have its fingers in so many slices of the pie, how should it figure out where to concentrate next? Perhaps the thing I've noticed most about people's perception of Google recently is that its motto of 'Do no evil' is challenged more and more often, as more and more people struggle to differentiate the behaviour of Google from any of the other corporate giants."

For general tech progress, Edwin notes "I think 3D printing will become increasingly more popular, perhaps to the point where a large proportion of computer owners will have a 3D printer. Advances in 3D printing (different materials, for example) will probably help propel that. Some might say augmented reality, but I say no. I think that will remain a short-term fad."

That rather puts the kibosh on Google glass, though.

"If, and only if, battery technology improves significantly, then perhaps smart watches will be the next big thing. But until a watch can either charge itself by solar, or [will only] require a charge only once every few weeks, I can't see it becoming mainstream.

"It's difficult to predict what will take centre stage. Perhaps none of these. So that's all I'm going to say :)."

Edwin has his mind across so many tech innovations and the people behind them, as you'll see, I think this is most interesting.

Happy festivities, everyone - drive safe, keep safe ... and be nice.

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