“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”
This quote, in various versions, is attributed to a number of distinguished individuals, including noted Danish physicist Niels Bohr and baseball guru Yogi Berra. I know what I’m getting for my birthday next month. That’s because I ordered the gift myself, with my wife’s permission. Beyond the occasional sure thing, though, prediction is difficult; the future is a tough-to-hit, moving target. What seems sure to happen one moment might seem impossible the next, and vice versa.
Being a tech geek, even with a fancy title like “Analyst”, doesn’t make predicting the future of technology any easier than being, say, a quilt designer trying to predict the next big trend in quilting. Technology, I might argue, is even tougher to predict than many other fields, because of the propensity for companies to push their hardware and software releases back until they’re perfected—or at least somewhat bug-free.
For instance, as you read on, you’ll encounter a Windows 7 prediction. I don’t even know if Microsoft will manage to release Windows 7 this year, but most sources seem to think it’ll happen.
Bearing all that in mind, here are some predictions that I think are pretty sure to come true in 2009. Continued… Notebook sales have surpassed desktop PC sales. That’s not exactly a shocker, as notebook prices, which were always very high compared to desktops with similar specs, have dropped dramatically over the past few years.
I fully expect this trend to explode into a way of life in 2009, to the point at which notebooks, and to a similar extent, smaller, more portable netbooks, leave desktop PCs in the dust. Wi-Fi is proliferating homes and businesses; it’s easy to grab Internet access with your portable in a vast number of public and private places.
At some point in the next two or three years, desktops will become relegated mainly to the realms of enthusiasts and gamers. Laptop computers will become a majority of users’ “primary” PCs, rather than portable companions to their desktop computers. As long as the price between a desktop and a similarly equipped notebook remains close to equivalent, most users will choose the portable.
Watch in 2009 as everyone goes mobile. Continued… For whatever reason, the world wants to hate Windows Vista. Maybe it was the rocky start when the operating system was plagued by unstable drivers and pokey performance. Maybe it’s the wealth of SKUs that make purchasing Vista confusing to the average user. Maybe it’s the slow startup, or the once-demanding system specs (although nowadays, just about every PC sold is well equipped for the troubled OS).
In any case, it seems like even Microsoft has seemingly jumped on the bandwagon to name it the next Windows Me—in other words, atrocious. The company is putting a serious rush on Windows 7, which should come out in the second half of 2009. When it does, expect it to be embraced.
The new OS, currently in beta, will be a streamlined, stripped down, performance hungry form of Vista, if you believe the early reports. It won’t require a major driver refresh like Vista did, and Microsoft has sworn that anything that works on Vista will work on Windows 7 without mitigations.
Barring a ridiculous marketing department fumble along the lines of offering 7 SKUs (doubled by offering them in both x86 and x64 varieties) Windows 7 should be less like the roundly despised Windows Me and more like the extremely successful Windows XP, which many users have sworn to stick to until Vista is flushed from the market. Continued… AMD and Intel haven’t been slouching. Both are geared up to unleash amazing new CPU technologies this year.
First up we have the upcoming Phenom refresh, Phenom II, which will debut in the coming week or so. The associated platform, called Dragon, will be the AMD replacement for the current enthusiast platform known as Spider. The Phenom II core will be DDR2 and DDR3 capable, but don’t look for the latter right away.
Meanwhile, Intel is making progress on its next phase of Core i7. Look for dual-core CPUs (in contrast to the current crop of quad-core Core i7 products), and dual-channel memory configurations (as opposed to the current Core i7 triple channel memory demands).
Both companies competing in a down economy will have one bright effect: prices will certainly slide lower on current products as the new stuff comes out, and pricing on the bleeding edge will be friendlier than we’re used to. The bottom line: All those Windows 7 customers will have excellent, efficient, quiet, cool and speedy platforms on which to drop the new operating system. Continued… Green tech will be huge this year. Expect more companies to find ways, both through new policies and by juggling numbers, to declare themselves carbon neutral. The new presidential administration has sworn to pass legislation to reduce carbon emissions.
Alternative energy sources will be more readily available to consumers. Our own Loyd Case has a roof full of solar panels, and the prospect of watching their meters run backwards as they sell energy to the grid, like Loyd does, will turn on more consumers this year than ever before.
The drive to make them not only more responsive, but more efficient as well, will drive emerging technologies, such as the “Green Ethernet” spec, technologies like Gigabyte’s Dynamic Energy Saver and other, similar techs from other manufacturers, and so on. Bigger and better computers will eat up less and less wattage. Whether you’re into saving the planet or just saving a buck, it’s good to be green. Continued… Tech companies will continue to eat each other in 2009, possibly with the biggest appetite since the days of the dot-com bubble. Even as EA fails to take over Take 2, you can bet that hungry eyes are watching smaller companies like Twitter and other successful, still-independent startups.
Consolidation will be huge in 2009, thanks in part to the down economy. Small companies looking to make big bucks will take offers from large companies looking for new IPs. While online ad revenues drop as more and more bloggers and small Web sites and communities drive the supply of advertising hubs higher than demand for them, the blogosphere is ripe for consolidation—and so is online media (ahem).
Even companies that don’t outright purchase up stock or sheer ownership of others will land advertising and business partnerships and other such deals. The far end of that could be a hit to net neutrality, which, while the incoming presidential administration seems to favor it, could get crushed under the weight of massive corporate demands.
In all, watch for 2009 to end with fewer gaming, online media, and other tech companies than it started with. Continued… I made this one a bonus prediction because it’s so obvious, but I felt right including it. Blu-ray is set to take over the world in 2009. Blu-ray players are finally becoming affordable. Sony recently released the BDP-350 at a street price of $250. Lots of people own PlayStation 3 game consoles that just happen to encompass a Blu-ray player. While lots of people declared the physical media disc dead last year, the fact is that movie rental service companies like Netflix and Blockbuster are stocking Blu-ray discs—this year, more people than ever will be renting and purchasing them. Sure, Netflix is also on the Xbox 360, but the quality of instant movie streaming via broadband isn’t comparable to that of Blu-ray. High-def freaks who demand crystal clear pictures on their 60 inch screens will, if they haven’t already, invest in the HD DVD killer.