The real trend of 2013, IMO, is that the consumer space is dead, as far as new startups are concerned. Supporting evidence is the "series A crunch", the reaction to the Facebook IPO, and Chris Dixon's "10 million is the new 1 million" article.
However, startups in other spaces, notably B2B and "enterprise" (the new sexy as of very recently, and my prediction for the number one trend of 2013) should be fine. If your startup makes money and has customers, you'll have no problem raising money (and less problems going it alone).
[Supporting evidence: basically my own (limited) experience from fundraising over the last few months]
So I'm agreeing with your last point: "If your startup makes money and has customers, you'll have no problem raising money."
Dropbox is a particularly interesting example because it has a B2B counterpart in Box. Dropbox however is 2 years younger and about worth about 8x more. Consumer is certainly not dead. Free consumer maybe, but even then, Snapchat just showed us that VCs still have an appetite for free apps that skyrocket in user growth. (and appetite is an understatement.)
The problem is that sometimes the strategy works, and sometimes when it pays off it pays off big. Amazon being the best example. And there will likely always be a continuous string of the strategy working, in a big way, for the foreseeable future. And that will create a much larger group of gamblers who think they can bet on the same strategy even when the business fundamentals show they have almost no chance of pulling it off.
Facebook is a weird example in this case because in some regards their business model was justified. They managed to create a multi-billion dollar, worldwide business in a short span. There's every reason to believe that they can sustain billion dollar per year profits for many years. However, they managed to sell their IPO on the premise of being a company that's almost 100x bigger than they are now, which is a bit of a ridiculous idea. Even if they gobbled up most of the worldwide ad budget it wouldn't justify their IPO valuation. Yet enough suckers bought into the idea that the company made a lot of money from the IPO and the stock price has even managed to rebound from its low this year, although to be honest I don't think that reflects a rational evaluation of the company.
As far as businesses targeting customers directly, I think that continues to be a big thing and is if anything only growing in popularity. For every instagram or facebook which tries to court hundreds of millions of users with free services there are a huge number of smaller companies who are selling services directly to customers at a profit. The rise of indie game studios and crowd sourced projects is an excellent example of this in action.
I feel really freaking old for a 21 year old. I got an Iphone 3gs back in 2009 before going into college. I should have been the target market for most of the tech revolution, right? I only used the thing to watch youtube, read pdfs, browse websites (never write anything), and take really ugly photos and video. I rarely made calls with it and canceled text messages entirely in 3 months. The battery died this summer, and I just got a tracfone just so I can call my grandparents because almost all my vocal communication is done via skype, jabber, or mumble. Maybe most importantly? I not only never paid for an app, I downloaded a total of like 5 in 3 years.
I have a Transformer tablet though, which I still wouldn't call the center of my tech environment, I just use it to read articles, books, and watch video. I don't even do the picture taking with it because its a giant book and it is so obtuse to photograph with it. The high DPI screen makes reading wonderful on it though, which is the main reason I have it. I did get the Transformer + keyboard dock so I had the ability to write when needed.
I don't think I'll ever get a 4 - 6" smartphone again. Anywhere I go I'll just throw my tablet in a backpack and bring it with me if need be, or just carry it. You won't shrink the screen any more and I just prefer the 10" form factor.
I still carry about my dumb phone just because we still live in the stone ages of ubiqutious internet. I don't want to pay $50+ a month for data just to have internet on the go. I already pay way too much to run a DSL signal to my home router.
I dunno, I just feel like the smartphone market is saturated. Modern computers have a very finite limit of influence over the world since they can only impact it through vibrating air, itself, or through emitting electromagnetic radiation in various forms. And I already have all the audiovisual stimulation that I want already, so I won't be adding any more. An RSS feed of all my choice webnews and the front page of reddit and HN for laughs is all the digital media consumption I really need anymore.
It's a good idea to research cellphone plans, you can probably find something very affordable that suits your usage.
It's the next huge thing that will change the world and economies. I don't feel it's a positive for our struggling world economies though. Why buy that physical good you desire thru a store (online or offline) when you and everyone else will be able print it up at home?
Trends be warned. The worst thing about a trend is that they create overpopulation of products/businesses in a small space, causing distraction and undue competition to serious businesses from "can do it for free and leave it" day hacks.
*Everyone was writing articles about them this week - and with good reason. Startup people (founders, employees, press, wannabes, VCs, angels) love reading that kind of shit and talking about things like 'Will Facebook's X kill Company Y?', etc... If it was a b2b company, it wouldn't have gotten any attention. Not 'just a little attention', but like, none. On top of the great things the consumer sector provides (customers, no sales cycles, meteoric growth, easier to build, etc), this reason above is one of the biggest reasons enterprise will never be a real "trend".
Now instead of calling a phone number I download an app and do the same thing?
Not quite seeing the huge win here.
That is the big difference.