2018 will not be kind to some old wireless favorites and one related, much-hyped fad. So here's a look at the technologies we won't have to kick around much longer.
The TCL Communication-built Android devices, which bear the BlackBerry name today, just run the BlackBerry software on top of the OS. It's a long way from an estimated 50% smartphone market share in 2008. Nonetheless, BlackBerry software may well have a second life as connected car software; the company already claims to have over half the market for in-car entertainment software. (See BlackBerry Hopes for Growth From Connected Cars.)
2G: Sunset in North America Australia's Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) was way ahead of most US Tier 1 operators in switching off its 2G network, which happened in 2016. In the US, only AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has said goodbye to its 2G GSM network. The big switch-off is expected from the other three major operators in 2019.
Nonetheless, for all intents and purposes, 2G -- be it GSM or CDMA -- is a dead network walking in North America. As they can, operators are refarming 2G spectrum to be used for 4G LTE services. They'll maintain minimal channels to be used for machine-to-machine communications, but those will start to be supplanted by LTE-M and NB-IoT for Internet of Things (IoT) applications in 2018.
Meanwhile, subscriber numbers for 2G are dropping fast in North America.
"The move from 2G technologies is most advanced in North America, where 3G and LTE accounted for more than 80 percent of wireless subscribers at year-end 2013, and are projected to reach 93 percent of subscriptions by 2018," said analyst firm TeleGeography Inc. in a report earlier this year.
Smart glasses: Losing focus Not so much a technology that is fading out, but rather a concept that has never had the shining moment in the sun that many expected. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) unveiled Google Glass in 2012, started the trend of eyewear that could shoot video and deliver data to the wearer, and it sold the $1,500 Glass Explorers beta models to several thousand participants in 2013. Since the beta tests ended in 2015, the Google Glass trail has mostly gone silent, except for this year's launch of an "enterprise edition" aimed at large corporations.
Snap Inc. , meanwhile, rebranded its entire company -- formerly SnapChat -- around the debut of its $130 video-recording Snap sunglasses in September 2016, which went on sale online in February this year.
Despite CEO Evan Spiegel saying that sales exceeded 150,000 pairs, reports from October suggest that the recently public company is sitting on "hundreds of thousands" of unsold units.
We'll see if the "augmented reality" glasses concept can make a comeback in 2018 or beyond, or if the idea of video-recording sunglasses is just too creepy-cum-geeky for mass acceptance.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading