My Hope for 2013: Some Small Company Successes

I'm fed up with the technology industry. As great as some products are from companies like Apple, Samsung, Sony, and Microsoft, there are countless devices and services in the wild that come from no-name firms that have been ignored.There was a time in the technology industry that it didn't matter how much a company had in its marketing budget. If a company's products were really great, they would be discovered by the tech addicts out there, and then eventually shared with the rest of the world. It was our job as tech lovers to find the good stuff and tell the "average consumer" why they needed something special.

Over the last several years, though, we've let our guard down. We've allowed companies like Apple and Samsung to get us too excited, and forgotten about the smaller companies that deserve attention. While we're telling everyone to get an Apple TV, we forget about recommending a Slingbox. Such scenarios play out across the industry.

So, in 2013, I can't help but hope that small companies find some more success. The real innovation in the marketplace is not coming from Apple or Microsoft, but from companies run by energetic entrepreneurs that have a really great idea. And each year at the Consumer Electronics Show, those people are packed into corners of the showroom floor hoping that just one or two of us will actually pay attention.

I'll be the first to admit that I've fallen into the trap. I've spent too much time focusing on my iPhone and iPad, and not enough time trying to hear about the really great products from companies I've never heard about. Once upon a time, those companies were Apple, Google, Samsung, and Sony. And it's important that I don't forget that.

[aquote]Innovation was once the element that determined success; now it's a forgotten art[/aquote]

Unfortunately, the technology industry has grown in such size that money matters more than ever. Companies that spend billions of dollars in advertising every year are far more likely to increase sales than those who only have a few hundred thousand. And although innovation was once the key element that determined success, nowadays, it's a forgotten art.

There's also the issue of acquisitions. The big companies keep getting bigger. And as they do, they're finding it much simpler to acquire a small upstart before it gets too big rather than try to compete. The result? That really great product idea is incorporated into something else, and we never see it again.

I know what I'm hoping for is something that will likely not happen. But why shouldn't we try? Chances are, the people reading this column are as tech-obsessed as I am. And when they come across a really great product, they can't help but tell the world.

So, rather than looking in the obvious places, why don't we spend 2013 checking out the unique, unknown products out there. We might just reveal to the world the next great company.