Note: I wrote this article at the end of 2011, but I got busy with my RV trip across the western USA, Canada and Alaska and never published it. Better late than never. Though publishing this article now in 2013 invalidates the first sentence…
The best thing about making annual predictions is that by this time next year, nobody will remember how wrong we were. So let’s boldly go where every other tech blogger has gone before, and peer into the future of the tech market in 2012.
1. Microsoft will release Windows 8 and few will notice
There are 1.25 billion Windows users worldwide, including 500 million people on Windows 7. And yet, most of the excitement and venture capital seems to be flowing to the mobile platforms of iOS and Android. Ironically, one reason why nobody will notice Windows 8 is that Windows 7 is actually quite good and reliable. And like Star Trek movies, every other version of Windows tends to be crap, so many companies will likely to skip the Windows 8 upgrade and wait for Windows 9. But by then, will anyone be using a PC anymore?
2. Android will grab half the tablet market share
After the iPhone took the world by storm, many tech analysts expected the iPhone to monopolize the smartphone market for years like Windows has dominated the PC. Yet it took Android only 18 months to knock the iPhone from the top perch, and now Android phones outsell the iPhone nearly 2-to-1. Many analysts are again proclaiming the iPad as forever king of the tablets. But a wave of good and cheap Android tablets—including the Amazon Fire and Google’s homegrown tablet—will flood the market in 2012 and challenge the iPad for market share lead.
3. AppleTV will do for television what the iPhone did for mobile
The next holy grail in computing is smart-TV, a meld between today’s passive television experience and your smartphone. Imagine your TV as a massive iPhone, with all your apps and data, and oh by the way, television is just another app. Apple stumbled a bit in its first try with AppleTV. The experience was too much like a DVR and not enough like an iOS device. But that may change with the next generation of AppleTV. Steve Jobs (rest in peace) may have one final trick up his black turtleneck sleeve.
4. Google will wield its patent portfolio like a sword
It must drive Google executives crazy that Microsoft makes more money off Google’s own Android mobile platform than Google does itself. Microsoft uses its bevy of patents to strong-arm Android phone makers into coughing up $5-$15 royalty per phone as a licensing fee. After getting sued by Oracle and others, Google quickly bought Motorola’s broad collection of mobile patents to protect itself. It’s been said that those who fail to innovate, litigate. Google would prefer to compete in the marketplace, but current reality dictates that tech companies need better lawyers than developers, and patents are the tech world’s weapons of mutually-assured destruction.
5. Google+ will become the most popular social network that nobody seems to use
Most of my friends and I are on Google+, and yet I converse with them on Facebook. People are like sheep that flock to the party, and right now the party is on Facebook. However, MySpace’s fall proved that the masses can shift social platforms quickly. Google+ will require a disruptive feature to really drive such a shift. Or Facebook could implode by revealing too much of our private information, such as the privacy-leaking timeline Facebook just forced on everyone. Then people would flee en masse to the relatively tighter privacy of Google+. But so far Google+ is mostly a digital ghost town.
6. SOPA will become law
American politics is so divided that when the two parties actually agree on something, the citizens need to really watch out. Greed is about the only thing that unites the political parties these days. Protecting intellectual property is important, but the bipartisan SOPA bill was driven by big-money corporate interests. Bad aspects of SOPA include criminalizing civil copyright violations, severe penalties with no due process, mucking with the DNS (i.e. Internet backbone), and suppressing free speech. Fortunately for the time being, the will of the Internet has prevailed and SOPA has been temporarily shelved. But SOPA in one form or another will be made law in 2012, and the Internet will be worse for it.
7. There will be a major state-sponsored cyber attack
With the Iraq war over, and the Afghanistan war forgotten, the U.S. military industrial complex is looking for its next war chest, and Iran seems to be the likely target. Since Iran is a more technologically advanced foe than Iraq and Afghanistan, the battle against Iran will be—for the first time—fought heavily in cyberspace. We’ve already seen precursor attacks from both sides, with the U.S./Israeli super-virus Stuxtnet destroying Iran nuclear centrifuges, and Iran allegedly hacking and crashing a U.S. spy drone. But may calmer heads prevail and peace reign in 2012, the alleged year of the apocalypse.
Article published on February 14, 2013
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