Call them the epic fails of technology. In 2013, a few technologies will fade into an abyss, swirling around and clinging for a last gasp of air before eventually dying. For IT executives looking to make contingency plans and approve budgets, these are the technologies to avoid.
1. Legacy Applications
Virtualization has changed how big business operates, but legacy apps are still common. Antonio Piriano, the CTO at ScienceLogic, a cloud management company, says the Software as a Service (SaaS) model will apply to legacy apps just as much as it does to data and servers in 2013.
That means not having to run—or maintain—legacy apps in a data center. While you might still depend on legacy apps, you won't run them the same way or manage them in your own data centers.
2. Mobile Applications
The brightest thinkers in technology have predicted the demise of apps for some time. Doug Pepper with InterWest Partners, venture capital firm, says apps will transform into intelligent agents that know about our preferences, location—even the time of day and our schedule.
We won't need a weather app anymore, or even a widget. Instead, the phone will customize the home screen to feed only the data we need based on our own customizations. That means not having to manage hundreds of apps.
3. Traditional Desktops
This is an interesting paradigm shift that might require some adjustment in our thinking. Today, your desktop is the place you store apps and picture of your kids. Over the past few years, though, thin-computing devices such as the Google Chromebox have shown how old-fashioned a desktop is. (The Chromebox has only a browser. There is no desktop.)
ScienceLogic's Piriano says the desktop will die in 2013 as more companies move to a virtual desktop in the cloud—benefiting from centralized control in the process.
4. BlackBerry Smartphones
Predications of the impending doom of the BlackBerry smartphone have swirled for more than a year. Constant delays in new operating system upgrades, misfires with tablets and new form-factors (anyone like a touchscreen phone with a thumbpad?) and management turnover are only part of the problem.
The real issue: Employees want a consumer phone they can use at work. We're connected 24x7 now, so having a dedicate business phone that won't play Angry Birds doesn't make sense any more.
5. Windows Phones
Android and the iPhone have won, and in 2013, Microsoft will finally decide to give up on the Windows phone. As much as the platform matches up with Windows 8 and the Surface tablets, consumer interest is not nearly as fanatical. Analyst firm IDC expects Windows Phone to land an 11 percent market share by 2016, while Ovum suggests a 13 percent share by 2017, but there's little sign that Android and iPhone users are ready to switch.
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Of the 40 people I met at a recent tech conference, a few had an Android, the rest had an iPhone, and not one person had a Windows phone. If early adopters skip the platform, who will stick around?
6. Private Branch Exchange (PBX) Systems
The desktop phone in your cubicle might be on its last leg. Adam Hartung with consultancy Spark Partners says the big technology fail of 2013 will be the traditional corporate PBX system—those desk phones that tie into a corporate data center.
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The problem is that escalating costs and maintenance fees look less and less attractive to companies, especially when employees have started bringing their own gadgets to work and using them exclusively. "Employees are happy to bring their own phone," Hartung says. "Companies only need to know how to collect and manage the connections."
7. Fax Machines
The fax machine will finally sputter out and die next year, says Keval Desai, a partner at InterWest Partners. We all know faxing is a sign of another age when our data flowed over standard phone lines. New services such as Adobe EchoSign offer a way for lawyers, insurance agents and your real estate agent to obtain a verifiable digital signature and transmit legal contracts with full authentication.
John Brandon is a former IT manager at a Fortune 100 company who now writes about technology. He has written more than 2,500 articles in the past 10 years. You can follow him on Twitter @jmbrandonbb. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and on Google +.