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It’s still a bit early in the year to officially declare “2014 is the Year of the ….” but we can sure take a shot at filling in the blank: the mobile device.

Last year was definitely the year of the cell phone – in 2013, Pew Research found that for the first time, 91 percent of U.S. adults had one, compared to 65 percent in 2004. Of these, 56 percent of adults had a smart phone.

It’s natural to speculate that “smart” mobile is going to be even bigger – users may want more options besides their simple phone. Tablets offer a larger surface area, and both devices offer access to fun and useful apps. Why else do we think mobile will do well? Partly because of what choices are coming for the app and device markets.

More mobile device choices

Chris Fleck, a columnist at Wired Innovation Insights, predicts that we’ll see a greater convergence of mobile hardware choices – especially the ‘phablet’ – medium-sized devices bigger than smart phones but smaller than tablets. He also predicts that Amazon will add a phone to its popular Kindle tablet, and that some phones will be able to dock with certain tablets, keyboards or monitors to create a ‘near laptop’ experience.

More epic games

Though game apps like “Horn” received favorable reviews, there was uncertainty if anyone would pay $6.99 when most mobile games were 99 cents or less. But it still became one of the more popular mobile products in 2013, including making IGN’s list of the top 25 iPhone game apps.

More retail help

As more stores begin to embrace mobile shoppers, they’ll go beyond making a basic site. Users can already post, check in and receive customized updates of promotions, but now they can expect to receive mobile-only deals while shopping. reported that 48 percent of U.S. shoppers and 46 percent of British shoppers said they would welcome messages and promotions from specific stores based on shopping habits.

More cloud back-ups

We continue to learn to navigate the data cloud – it’s proving handy for storage and applications, but is also becoming an ideal tool for secure back-ups, especially when compared to past back-up measures, like making hard copies. Expect to see more options like Mozy online backup, CrashPlan and Backblaze, that allow for automatic online backups. Costs vary depending on the upload speed, amount of data to be archived, and whether you want your systems to always be syncing with the cloud, or just when you schedule the task.

More Microsoft presence

No surprise that Android phones continue to sell like crazy and iPhones keep chugging along. The International Data Corporation reported last November that Androids represented 81 percent of all smart phone shipments, and iPhones dipped a little, but still sold 9 million units. But IDC found that Microsoft’s Windows Phone grew 156 percent from the previous year, when only 3.7 million units were sold. This is encouraging, since Microsoft hasn’t had the best luck selling much besides software and Xboxes – the ill-fated Zune is a good example. But Bloomberg Business Week said that Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Nokia will help increase pressure on app developers to also create versions for the Windows platform, such as the long-awaited release of Instagram for Windows Phones. The pressure could be in the form of either larger monetary incentives or penalties, like bans from accessing Nokia services.

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