2008 tech predictions
2008 tech predictions
At the beginning of the year I was going to write about my technology predictions for 2008, but then feigned illness for a while and then forgot. However, PlusNet wouldn’t let me forget for too long and yesterday James threatened me with his pool cue so I thought I’d better get my act together. My mother whole heartedly believes she has super natural powers and can predict the future (including the Lottery numbers), but unfortunately I really can’t claim to possess such a gift. After nearly 15 years of the National Lottery, my mother still can’t claim to be a millionaire so I guess her powers are not as strong as they could be either. Anyway, I’ll do my best! 1. Media centres to become mass market Did I say I have a media centre? Well, a few times on this site! Aesthetics has always been the sticking point for media centres. Historically they’ve just looked like desktop computers or ugly blocks of metal, and even I wouldn’t want that in my living room. However, with designs becoming more pleasing to the eye and capabilities improving all the time, they are now becoming a real alternative to having separate set-top boxes, DVD players/recorders, CD players, Radios, photo viewers etc. etc. The media centre market is already growing and as well as the above mentioned benefits, IPTV is also going to help speed this up. By the end of the year, I predict that everyone in the UK will know someone with a media centre in their living room. 2. Broadband TV usage to triple this year So, this includes stuff like IPTV, iPlayer, Joost, 4oD etc. etc. We will watch more video through our broadband connection than ever before. PlusNet have already seen a tripling of streaming since iPlayer’s launch, and this remains on a massive upward growth curve. When project Kangaroo and Picnic are launched you will most definitely see yet another steep increase in usage. I’m guessing it will triple from today’s numbers but actually I think that might be a wild under-estimation. 3. Online storage market to explode. Come on Dan, surely you can do better than that, online storage isn’t exactly news! Ok, it isn’t new but it has never been mass market. Several companies have popped up over the last few years but it is still a market that has yet to have its day. With everyone moving to digital media, saving their photos, music and videos on their home PCs, there are a lot of memories being trusted to a fallible hard-drive. I was initially satisfied with having RAID 1 enabled on my media centre but then I thought, “what if both disks go?” and “what if there’s a fire?” Actually, most media centres don’t even have RAID capability so you really are trusting your digital jewels to one hard-drive. Okay, some people have a NAS device at home, while others just have a USB drive for backup purposes, and more patient people burn backups to DVDs. But many of these approaches are time consuming and again don’t cover yourself in the event of a fire. But backups are only part of the story. What if you want to access your media at your Mum’s, brother’s or friend’s house? Say, show that digital photo of your cute new baby or how you swam with a dolphin in Florida? Yes, you could show it on a rubbish 1-inch squared mobile phone screen, or you could use your Mum’s computer to connect to your storage and then view them on her 19” LCD monitor (or even on her media centre). I don’t know about you, but I always underestimate how much storage I’m going to need when I buy a hard-drive. Several times I’ve had to migrate all my stuff on to a larger disk. With online storage like S3, the capacity is instantly scalable – no need to worry about future needs, you just pay for the space you use. I’ve already hinted at S3, but there’s a bigger name getting on the bandwagon, and that’s Google. They are due to release their GDrive service any day now. With a big name comes instant recognition and coverage. One of the reasons why online storage isn’t as popular right now as it could be is exposure: most people simply don’t know about it. I reckon when they release the GDrive, us ISPs are going to see a new level of uploads. In fact, the more popular online storage becomes, inevitably the more demand there will be for faster uploads and pressure will mount on ISPs to improve this. 4. “Internet on the go” prices to plummet We are already seeing some providers making money more from content than connectivity (Sky, for example), and it is likely that this trend of selling something else to offer lower cost connectivity will continue. Mobile phone companies are offering relatively expensive internet connectivity right now, but I predict these prices will plummet in the coming months. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see free high speed mobile internet tied into a 24-month contract by the end of this year. 5. Traffic management in all ISPs with more transparent policies An ISP with no restrictions and no traffic management is likely to be running itself out of business. Most ISPs have limits – even the “unlimited” ones, and several now implement traffic management even after years of denying they ever would. My favourite quote from last year was from PlusNet’s own Marketing Director, Neil Armstrong, who said (if only I could remember it exactly) something like, “Internet without any traffic management is about as useful as a Formula 1 racing car with bald tyres on a wet day”. I may have added the “wet day” bit but it was a great quote nonetheless. The fact is, traffic management can be a very good thing, and can provide users with a quality of service that would otherwise be absent. I predict that all major ISPs will have some form of traffic management in place this year, especially with the explosion of iPlayer and services of that ilk, and they will actually admit to it as they start to see it as a good thing. 6. Large social networking sites to take a dive Okay, I’m not the most social of animals around (just ask anyone at PlusNet) but I did register on Facebook last year. I even got addicted for a week. But then after seeing nothing but “I’m brushing my teeth” and “I’m walking to work” type of posts, I just got fed up. In fact I haven’t logged into my Facebook account for four months now and don’t intend to any time soon (I told you I’m not very sociable). I don’t think I’m the only person that has got bored of it, and UK users have certainly declined recently. What I think will happen is that smaller niche community sites will thrive again after previously being strangled by MySpace and Facebook. That said, I don’t think we’ll be saying goodbye to the big sites, but they will be used differently. 7. OpenID to gain major support Kelly’s already talked about OpenID on this site so I won’t go into too much detail but, essentially, if fully adopted it will mean you will only have to remember one user name and one password for all your websites Oh what a relief! No more registering yet another different username for another website because your favourite choice is already taken. By 2010 I predict that most of your favourite websites will support OpenID, but for this year I think we’ll settle for a prediction of support by major websites, including your very own PlusNet Community Site and portal. 8. Back to the desktop So we’ve spent several years now moving applications into the web browser, making them portable and available world-wide and now we’re going to do what Don’t worry, I think browser-based applications are as much the future as garlic bread, but complicated applications with many pages can be awkward and slow to navigate. This is where AIR and Prism can play a part. I certainly don’t think we’ll see AIR and IE on Celebrity Death Match or Harry Hill’s TV Burp having a fight but we will definitely see a mix of on and offline web applications. There is already an eBay AIR application that lets you perform a lot of the setting up of an auction offline, which is a lot less painful than having to do it through a browser, waiting several seconds after each click. Just as interesting, though, is Silverlight. This will start to be used to push real desktop applications to the browser. So I can see a balance, and although right now the momentum is with the browser, we’ll see AIR and Prism change that again. 9. p2p becomes favourite with content distributors p2p has been much maligned, largely because of its illegal use and drain on the internet. However, it is starting to be used for more positive reasons (well, depending on your view point), such as distribution of large video files by the authorised content suppliers. If your large download is served by many hosts then p2p can be a legal user’s friend. Your p2p client can simultaneously request different parts of the file from different hosts, significantly speeding up your download. It also helps the content distributors as it lessens the burden on their servers due to the fact that the content is being retrieved from multiple sources as well Some content distributors are already trying this out and it can be effective. However, you will need to be careful as a user because you may find your computer being used as a host and drinking your monthly bandwidth allowance without you even knowing about it (that is, until you get your broadband bill). Of course, there’s also the argument of p2p being a bandwidth hungry protocol, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its uses. With the likes of LoveFilm offering downloads, I can see these types of sites favouring p2p for distribution. On a related note, I found this article quite amusing! 10. IPv6 to see little traction in 2008 While I absolutely believe that IPv6 is essential, I do not think that there will be massive take up this year. Most ISPs will probably wait until 2009 before implementing any support. Our routers won’t die this year but we can’t leave it much longer. So, there you have it, my Top 10 predictions for the rest of the year. You can come back to this blog in January 2009 and throw digital tomatoes at me for getting everything wrong! But just to give me a chance of getting some things right, I’ll just throw in a few quick ones: 11. IP camera sales will double in the UK (fuelled by a home security drive) 12. Google to release location based advertising using Google maps on your phone – you’ll get a voucher alert on your phone as you walk toward Starbucks (as long as they haven’t closed for training). 13. More major open source software companies to be bought. 14. New laptops sub-£200 (increasing mobile internet demand). 15. Linux and Mac desktops/laptops in the home increase by 20%. 16. Most significant Mac viruses yet, made worse by over confidence and complacency of end users. 17. HTC to blow iPhones-esque market away with high-end touch phone at lower prices. 18. Projectors in consumer mobile phones by end of year. 19. Microsoft will be successful in its bid for Yahoo! 20. 4, 7, 8, 18, 21 and another number will be the winning Lottery numbers this year. I’m not a betting man, but I think I have a good chance of getting at least one of my predictions right. But what about you? Let us know what your predictions are for the year!
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