This is the time of year that everyone and their dog seems to take out the crystal ball out and make sweeping predictions for 2011. Jumping on the bandwagon of making sweeping predictions sounds like a bit of fun, if not taken too seriously so here’s my attempt to list some dead certs that I can look back in 2012 and say “I told you so” in my smuggest voice.
Failing that I can go back and re-edit it to make it fit reality. This annual attempt to influence, laugh at or (occasionally) predict what might happens has reached new lows highs. Pantone are the self-professed leading authority on colour and assure us that 2011 is the year of pink. WTF!
1. Tablet computing will be huge. We have Mr Jobs and Apples’s meteoric climb to be one of the largest companies in the world for this but if you look back 1 year you will se there were no (real) tablet computer on sale. iPad came along in April and now some predictions are saying that 50% of all connected users will own some form of tablet computer by Christmas! iPads are still pricey but belief in the God-Jobs is so high there are now a plethora of new devices running everything from Windows (yuk) to Linux and Android. Pervasive internet is the big driver for this, people want to be online all the time and carrying around a chubby laptop is not everyone’s cup of tea. Cost is another driver, simpler hardware, few interfaces, lower power and no keyboard all make the device much cheaper to buy so tablets have already cracked the £150 mark but we can expect fully featured (probably Android) sub-£100 tablets before the year is out. Could be the must-have present of 2011?
2. Open Geo. Lots of new applications have appeared over the last year that take advantage of the GPS chip in various smart-phones. These include some of the real movers and shakers in the t’interweb world such as Foursquare, Gowalla (my favourite), Facebook, Google plus a whole plethora of TomTom competitors such as Navigon, Co-Pilot and an interesting crowd-sourced idea from Waze. So which system to use and why? The straight answer is that it depends on what you are doing, who you are doing it with and who needs to know which makes for literally hundreds of separate geo-based networks. In 2011 these will largely go “open” so allowing information to be easily shared across different platforms and technology. You will choose the platform you like to use and all the providers will support information flow to and from it across all the geo-networks.
3. Flash will die. Again. This time round it’s HTML5 that has stepped up to the plate to try and knock-out Adobe’s ugly and greedy media-delivery-and-crash-alot platform. Wishful thinking? Yup, most of the t’interweb population doesn;t understand that Flash is actually holding back development of better UIs, cheaper access tools and more affordable bandwidth. I am biased, Flash has been a pet hate of mine for over 10 years.
4. Digital living room. This has been a long time coming but 2011 will be a big year for the venerable old telly. We’ll see a whole mountain of living room services start to appear this year and with 40″ flat screens well under the £500 mark the latest line of TVs have ethernet ports, wireless internet, Youtube, eBay, iTunes and other web services already built in. And that’s ignoring the movie fraternity who are very keen to muscle in and stop the £99 Apple TV default owning the rental marketplace. Set top boxes can already deliver video calling, films and music but generally need loads of bandwidth or a media server in the home – the new set-top boxes will be the media server, internet router, services hub and home security system all rolled into one. Advertising inventory in this world should prove interesting with relevant, personalised, low cost and (when done properly) massive competitive advantage for early adopter corporations.
5. End of Google’s search dominance. Well, not really, more of a shift away to alternative approaches of information gathering such as Quora, Mahalo and others. Traditional search through Google is just so cluttered and spammy these days with the Internet giant applying so many frigs to keep search working. Won’t happen overnight but we might find the context of “Googling” in a conversation changes this year.
6. Mumbo-jumbo applications. The emergence of context and person-aware web applications is going to greatly improve our lives as devices start to learn about us, what we like and what we don’t. These context-sensitive applications will have a tonne of behavioural data to mine and come up with really good suggestions, helpful ideas and powerful answers to questions whilst at the same time hugely reducing the effort required by us mere mortals to communicate our pain or situational dilemma. This will happen completely behind the scenes (actually it has started already with Google, eBay et al) and most will not notice unless the internet privacy war reaches the front pages. The upshot is that early adopter companies will gain advantage and the t’interweb community will get more relevant information and quicker. Probably see a lot more board-level CIOs and less traditional IT directors as a result of the need to understand information.
7. CLOUDY and sunny. Discrete computing on the ever increasing number of web connected devices is getting pretty disjointed. The cloud computing revolution will make this simple with automated data synchronisation across devices, improved security, greater amounts of storage space, zero resource required for maintenance, simpler crowd sourcing and huge collaboration opportunities. I would be amazed if this didn’t touch everyone and holds 99% of people’s personal information by Xmas.
8. Micro-pay and usage based applications. Gone is paying £450 for Microsoft Office, instead we’ll all click to buy 59p micro-applications that fix a need now. Most of them will get little use but some will re-define how we do stuff and we’ll spend incrementally more adding features, support via micro-pay. This is a great new route for developers or VARs to unbundle larger applications and deliver smaller, more relevant, applications. When was the last time you used more than 10% of the functionality of any Microsoft product?
9. Death of SEO. God rest it’s stinking carcass.
10. Welcome to the Semantic web. Yes, I know, been predicting this for the last couple of years and, to be honest, there are no huge profile pushes going on. What is happening is that behind the scenes web applications, search engines and portals are starting to be able to understand each other at the information level so maybe we’ll simply wake up one day and find that we are living in the semantic world.