Monday, February 2, 2009

Ten Amazingly Accurate Tech Predictions for 2009

I intentionally picked some things out of left field. It would be really pointless for me to predict that both wireless USB and USB3.0 come out, that Snow Leopard is released, etc. Basically, I took some things that might happen, might not, and justified them. Sure, I will not be a 100%, but what fun would it be if I was?

1) Apple will start to lose desktop/laptop market share.
While Apple has never really had a large share of the market, they have been making slow but steady gains the last few years. The biggest increase for Apple is in the college demographic. However, with the stumbling economy, the masses will buy fewer and fewer computers from Apple as they start to do a simple cost/benefit analysis. This will lead to a full reworking of Apple's marketing strategy and long-term plans, thus leading to the new market for Apple.

2) Apple releases a tablet/netbook/large iPod-Touch.
This new market, and new strategy, for Apple will be the release of a netbook/tablet that is essentially a large-screen iPod Touch. While this will get huge sales initially (helping to bump up the netbook market), it will quickly steady out and remain at the roughly 20% market share that Apple currently enjoys. The iNetBook will feature a touch screen, with a stylus as well, and OSX Snow Leopard. Unlike most netbooks, Apple's will be priced in the $500-$600 range, but that should not keep Apple from getting their normal support (I will be buying it the day it comes out).

3) The Netbook market takes off, but Windows XP remains the primary OS.
With the economy going towards the gutter and consumers spending far less than in years past, low-tech gear will gain in leaps and bounds. Most people want computers to e-mail, browse the Internet, and maybe look at pictures, and netbooks fill this niche perfectly. In 2009, netbooks will take about 20%-30% of the laptop market share and will remain in the sub 400$ range. Regardless of any Linux options or any future Apple OS, Windows XP will remain the king of netbook systems.

4) Microsoft will start a phone company, the iPhone will keep growing, Android will stumble.
The Apple iPhone, with its sexy look and easy-to-use touch screen will continue to grow in market share, while its app store makes millions for Apple. The iPhone, which will be available in larger sizes and memory configurations, will soon become the market leader of smart phones. Android, which launched with some fanfare, will soon plummet and disappear as most companies realize that it is better to have a company who can advertise their OS as opposed to you having to do it. Microsoft, in an attempt to keep Windows Mobile alive, will either create a Zune phone or make a play to purchase RIM (BlackBerry) which will give them a strong standing.

5) Google will release a full-fledged OS, un-beta Gmail, and stop supporting Chrome.
Google, preemptively judging their Android OS as being a market-stealer, will release a full-fledged OS for PCs (and maybe Macs). This operating system will mostly rely on cloud computing and will be lightweight, open source, and full of widgets. It will start strongly, but then will fall to Linux-like market share. As part of the release, Google will also release a final and full version of Gmail (only a few years too late) with only a few new features. Gmail will quickly become the dominant online e-mail client. Chrome, which slumped after a large release (like all of Google's products) will be terminated. Instead, Google will acquire Firefox (and Thunderbird) and attempt to gain browsing territory.

6) Microsoft will release Windows 7.
Following the release of Google's OS and Apple's OSX Snow Leopard, Microsoft will launch Windows 7 in the middle of its projected launch window; that is, it will be released in early November. This is just in time for Christmas, and it will be included on all PCs sold as Christmas presents. Unlike Vista, Windows 7 will be greeted with rave reviews and will have a large user base from the start. This will be seen as revitalizing and turning Windows around. I also predict that I will be standing in line and will buy it the second it comes out.

7) The Resurrection of HD-DVD.
As already stated, with the economy in the gutter, consumers are doing their best to spend as little as possible. A dead, but good, format should be able to help them do that. While there will be no new HD-DVD's (for now) released, the pricing of the actual existing movies (a large library of them) and the players are so low that consumers who do not care about the new releases will be starting to buy up these discs. Once there is a large sale record of HD-DVD, Toshiba will start to make the players again. Starting with smaller companies, and then moving to some mainstream studios, HD-DVD will make a comeback.

8) All three consoles will sell less, PS3 will be pulled.
With consumers spending less, all electronics will take a hit, and the console market is no exception. The Wii, with its low price and lower-end technology, will still be leading the market in the console wars. The Xbox 360, not to be outdone, will lower its price and keep on truckin, but will only gain slightly on the Wii. Sony, with their PS3, will not be able to cut their costs any more, as they are already selling each system in debt. Sony will cut their losses, and pull out of the console war for this generation (though their PSP will remain).

9) Microsoft will announce the Xbox 720, and a Microsoft handheld gaming system. Sony will release the PS4.
Sony, in an attempt to find a way to make money quickly and surely, will work on releasing the PS4. After discontinuing the PS3 they will roll out a console that is essentially a small computer, with dual Nvidia 9800 GPUs, Blu-Ray, and all the whistles; Sony will attempt to create another high-end system. While this works at first, and it starts the next generation of consoles, the market will not be there for such a costly item. Sony will pull out of the console market shortly after. Microsoft, on the other hand, will announce the Xbox 720, which will be a hybrid between the PS3 and the Wii, featuring the best of both while also keeping the few nicer features of the current Xbox 360. They will have a Halo title ready for launch. Additionally, Microsoft will announce a handheld system to compete with the DS and the PSP (it might be part of the Zune phone). Nintendo will continue with the Wii, possibly announcing an HD version (with a USB dongle). They will not announce a new console until 2010 or later.

10) Rock band and Guitar Hero will join, or at least release compatible controllers.
While this might just be a wish of mine, but I really am hoping that this happens in the near future. With the slowing down of sales eating into their margins (due to the price of each game), both Rock band and Guitar Hero will team up to release new games. The two companies will merge and become one. They will then release multiple variations of each title. If this does not happen, then I believe that the two companies will release a standard for their instruments, so that they all work on the same games. This makes sure that their games are sold, even if their instruments are not.

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