Tech Predictions for 2012

2012

Happy New Year! I hope that 2011 was a great year for you, and that 2012 will be even better!

2011 was an interesting year in the tech world.  Steve Jobs’ death had to be the biggest story of the year, but there was no shortage of interesting events in the tech space. I hope that 2012 is the same!

Throughout December I’ve posted some of my 2012 predictions to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  This post has many of those ideas expanded on, plus some that I haven’t yet shared.  I’ve been compiling this list of predictions since July, and am excited to finally share them with you.

I know that a few of these predictions are going to ruffle some feathers. Leave me a comment, and let me know if you agree, disagree, think I am out of my mind, or have any of your own predictions for the coming year! I’d love to hear what you think is in store for us in 2012.

Research In Motion Gets Sold or Goes Bankrupt

RIM Blackberry LogoI remember watching CES 2011 coverage back in January, and getting the first solid look at RIM‘s highly anticipated entry into the  tablet market – the Blackberry Playbook. It was announced that the Playbook would be using the new QNIX operating system, and that the Playbook would even be able to run (emulated) Android apps! It sounded like a pretty good tablet, and I really thought that the Playbook would be all over the corporate world, and a big hit with Blackberry faithful.  Then the device shipped – without an email client no less – and was less than impressive. RIM had the chance to put out a device that their corporate clients would flock to, and could perhaps have taken a legitimate piece of the tablet pie that Apple dominates.

I think that Blackberry’s stronghold in the corporate/enterprise market will be usurped in 2012 by Android and Windows Phone 7, and that Windows Phone 7 will overtake Blackberry to jump into top 3 mobile operating system position (behind iOS and Android). A lot of the unique features that Blackberry used to have, like Exchange server support, and the ability for system administrators to remotely wipe handsets are now baked into Android core, and I would assume are available now, or coming very soon for Windows Phone 7.

On top of their hardware woes, RIM lost a ton of money this year, and I predict that will continue into the new year. I think that by the end of summer 2012, Research in Motion will be in really bad shape financially and the co-CEO team will probably be soliciting offers for the company. I think it is more probable that someone buys Research in Motion – but who? My guess is Amazon buys them in a last minute firesale. Amazon released their first tablet this year, and I have no doubt they want to expand into the phone market as well. However, if Amazon doesn’t swoop in to save the company behind Blackberry, then I predict that sadly we’ll see their doors close by the end of the year.

Could a company like Dell who has never succeeded with tablets or mobile phones, but has a good foothold on the corporate and enterprise market swoop in and buy Blackberry? I think that is a good possibility as well. Or even Microsoft steps in and buys the company, to keep their enterprise stronghold in tact?

Amazon Dominates in 2012 and Gives Apple a Run For Their Money

Amazon LogoThis is a logical prediction to follow my last one. I really think that Amazon is going to become a dominant player in the mobile hardware market this year. We saw the Amazon Kindle Fire, Amazon’s first tablet released in 2011. The Kindle Fire is really a big digital catalogue, bringing the owner into Amazon’s world with simple ways to buy music, ebooks, video, and apps. The biggest advantage that the Kindle Fire had was it’s low price point in comparison with the iPad and the various high-end Android tablets released this year.

I’ve always maintained that the iTunes store is one of the key selling features behind Apple’s mobile products. iTunes makes it so easy for consumers to purchase and consume media on their devices. Amazon is the only company right now that can compete with Apple’s iTunes in terms of ease of use, and an in-depth media catalogue. On top of their media offerings, you can buy almost anything from Amazon (especially in the US).

If Amazon can keep producing low price devices (perhaps adding phones to their lineup in 2012?) that act primarily as a personal Amazon catalogue, I think they’ll be able to take a considerable chunk out of Apple’s market share for devices, and in turn will rake in the cash from consumers spending money buying from Amazon.

I am fully expecting Amazon to acquire some very important companies for their growth this year. I think Amazon will move into the streaming TV, movies and music markets in a big way by buying some of the existing players in those spaces.

Amazon is definitely a company to watch in 2012, and I think they could be the dark horse company that could very well “change the game” while their stock price soars.

Facebook and Twitter Go Public

Facebook and Twitter logosThere has been talk for a few years now that Facebook is going to go public, and each year it never happens. Facebook has made major changes this year, and really polishing the system in what I think, is anticipation of them putting out an IPO. A Facebook IPO would be huge and based on the LinkedIn and Groupon opening day prices in 2011, Facebook’s stock price on opening day will be astronomical. Start saving your pennies now if you want to be able to buy Facebook stock in 2012.

I don’t think Twitter is ready to go to an IPO quiet yet, but if Facebook does, I think Twitter’s hand may be forced by their investors and board members. Don’t worry about Twitter though if this happens.  Coming off the heels of Facebook’s wildly successful public offering, I think Twitter’s stock price will be highly inflated, and everyone who missed out on buying Facebook stock will clamour to Twitter.

There could be a lot of money thrown around by investors this year! The big variable in this one is how much the economy will go up, and if it would be able to support two big web 2.0 companies going public in the next twelve months.

Daily Deals Get More Personal and Focused

Shopping BagDaily Deals sites like Groupon and Living Social really took off in 2011. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t used one of these sites by now. My biggest beef with them is that the deals are becoming far more generic and less interesting to me. I have unsubscribed to almost all the daily deal emails I used to look forward to in my inbox daily.

Mighty Deals and AppSumo have carved out their niche of being the daily deals sites for the tech and design communities. In 2012 I see more targeted daily deal sites crop up. Men, women, parents, geeks and gamers, hipsters, singles, couples, athletes, theatre goers and foodies – I think we’re going to see the start of many more smaller, more focused daily deals sites popping up that are much better targeted to a smaller demographic. Instead of having to check a handful or more of various daily deal sites hoping you won’t miss anything good, you’ll be able to keep track of the giants like Groupon and Living Social who will still be very generic, and then only a few sites that really interest you.

PlayStation 4 is Released

Sony Playstation LogoTechnology has evolved quite a bit since PlayStation 3 came out in 2006, and there are a lot of really interesting things a game console can offer today. With Microsoft focused in turning the XBOX 360 into a media hub and Nintendo working on their Wii U console, it is the perfect time for Sony to put out a new PlayStation and push the envelope once again.

With the popularity of 3D TVs in 2011, I would expect that the next generation of game consoles will rely heavily on 3D for games. Perhaps this could even be the first console that doesn’t take physical media like CDs, DVDs or cartridges, and instead the entire game library is managed via the cloud – ala Steam?

Sony could be a big player in the next generation of connected TVs. It will be very interesting to see how they leverage their music, movie, and game libraries to compete with Apple TV, Google TV and Netflix.

Ice Cream Sandwich Finally Unifies Android

Android Ice Cream Sandwich LogoOne of the biggest criticisms of Android has always been fragmentation. Not just fragmentation among version numbers, but also among the various Android overlays. Android Stock, Sense UI, TouchWiz, MotoBlur, a consumer can pickup a handful of Android devices from different manufacturers and have each one’s interface look totally different from each other.

Android 4 – Ice Cream Sandwich – will finally be the version of Android that I think will change all this. Sure, ICS means that there will be even more handsets that are now out-of-date, but I really feel that Android is finally at the point that the handset manufacturers aren’t going to feel the need to skin Android. Ice Cream Sandwich includes a brand new UI for Android, which most early adopters are already praising.

Of course there is still going to be a majority of Android devices that won’t be officially updated to ICS, which is going to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks for adoption. For the sake of this prediction we have to look past these devices, and towards the next chapter of Android.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that the majority of Android phones are going to be shipping with stock Ice Cream Sandwich in 2012 and beyond. Carries and the handset makers will still tweak the OS, and put their own crapware (CarrierIQ) and bloatware on our devices and might have minor modifications made to individual devices, but the Android look and feel will stay consistent across the major handsets and manufacturers.

I think you’ll see a lot of the well know Android UIs popping up in early 2012 as we see the first Ice Cream Sandwich versions of TouchWiz and Sense UI, but these will die off mid year in favour of Android 4’s stock UI on most devices.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google finally step in, and make one of the terms to get the official Google Android experience on a handset, is that the Ice Cream Sandwich look and feel, and features are all still in place. Would this lead to phones shipping with two or more various UIs on them – stock and the manufacturer’s custom one?

Windows 8 Metro UI Flops on PCs

Windows 8 Metro UIThe biggest discussion around Windows 8 in 2011 was around Windows 8’s new Metro UI. For better or for worse, this is going to be the defining feature of Windows 8. The Metro UI might work well on tablets, and continue to work for Microsoft on their Windows Phones, but putting it onto a PC seems like a really bad idea to me. The interface looks like I should reach out and touch it, and most people don’t use touch screens on their home or work computers.

As much as Microsoft probably feels that the Metro home screen is going to be a quick and easy way to access the information users want most, I don’t think that anyone is actually going to use it. I imagine that even most PC makers such as Dell and HP will ship their computers with the “classic” Windows 7 desktop enabled by default.

I think Windows 8 will end up being like Windows 98 – a solid upgrade on its predecessor but not a version of Windows that will be able to stand on it’s own two feet, and will always be confused with Windows 7. Windows 8 will have good adoption, Metro UI won’t.

Rapid Fire Predictions

I have a bunch more predictions I wanted to include in this post, that don’t need a description and aren’t as bold or important as the ones I’ve already highlighted.

  • Facebook buys Instagram and rolls the Instagram features into Facebook’s mobile apps
  • Google finally brings Chrome to Android phones and does away with the not-so-good generic “Browser”
  • WebOS doesn’t gain significant market share after becoming open source
  • Intel’s new chips for mobile phones won’t be used by any of the major handset manufacturers
  • Firefox continues to lose market share to Google Chrome
  • Makers of computer peripherals back USB 3 over Thunderbolt (Light Peak)
  • Grand Theft Auto 5 will be released, and be another huge success
  • Solid state drive prices won’t drop significantly
  • Amazon will start paying taxes to California, and several other states will jump on board
  • Apple will not release their own television set

That’s it, those are my predictions for the coming year. Some of them I hope do come true, and others I hope prove me wrong. Do you have any predictions for 2012? Think I am right? Wrong? Off my rocker? Sound off by leaving a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.