2K8 and beyond for technology

Predictions and hopes:

  • The iPhone and its multi-touch screen has defined the mobile user experience. Whilst by no means perfect, it has shone a light on an area of innovation that companies as diverse as Nokia, Google and Microsoft are also focused on. More importantly it has raised consumers expectations of what makes a good phone and a good user experience. I expect to see haptic technology appearing in touchscreen devices to provide tactile feedback which will finally make virtual keyboards worthwhile. If the technologists aren’t careful we may also see fatigue failures damaging the touchscreens, transistors and backing glass on these screens when the devices are in the hands of touch-typists. Product recall anyone?
  • Location-based services will start to have an impact in the mobile market, and casualties are like to be the GPS hardware manufacturers. Mapping companies will gain, as will digital marketing agencies who are smart enough to get in on game fast enough with Google Mobile or flickr mash-ups to create services that provide value. So advertising becomes useful information
  • Portable devices will become more usable over time. The combination of new technologies like solid-state drives and LED backlights on LCDs and OLEDs, combined with the kind of engineering lessons learned from developing disruptive products like the OLPC, the ASUS eeePC, Apple iPhone, and Nokia N8XX series devices will start to permeate throughout the work done by the Taiwanese sub-contractors who play the artisans and workshops of the technology sector to Apple’s architects
  • Consumers will start to look beyond the energy footprint of their technology devices and look at the kind of social conditions they are made in. There will be a small but growing lucrative market in the American Apparel-type business model for technology, starting with simple gadgets like MP3 players
  • Apple will have a tipping point as the web becomes closer to the ‘net is the computer’ vision of Larry Ellison of Oracle and the folks of Sun Microsystems back in the day. However this will not be a slam dunk as there are very good reasons (mostly to do with realpolitik and power of IT within an organisation) that will see IT directors fight the power
  • Enterprise software, consumer electronics and internet companies will start to get a dividend from the technology that has been developed to fight terrorism post-9/11. Areas like pattern-recognition, systems that require fuzzy logic-type maths or machine learning like facial recognition, speech-to-text conversion and multimedia search will receive incremental benefits rather than disruptive revolutions (like the invention of the integrated circuit by Texas Instruments in the late 1960s / early 1970s)
  • Mobile phone companies making smartphone devices will finally all use mini USB connections to charge their phones and do wired data synchronisation, reducing the amount of cables and plug adopters needed by your average roadwarrior
  • IT departments will continue to ignore web 2.0 properties as time-wasting and will continue user policies that make the Great Firewall of China look liberal in comparison. Over half the working population will still not be able to use Facebook, IM applications
  • Other consultancies will follow Capgemini’s lead in selling web service applications like Google’s office applications to large enterprises from a manageability and cost point-of-view. This is likely to be rolled out first in companies that have outsourced their IT department to another company in the second term of its outsourcing contract and is desperate to find additional savings
  • User-experience on web services will start to become a major area of differentiation and the unintuitive will suffer as consumers move to more elegant products
  • Nokia will struggle to do web services and Google will struggle to do social software. Yahoo! looks as if it is already struggling to be meaningful in the European marketplace and will continue to do so (the exceptions being bought in services like delicious and flickr). I expect interesting developments, technology and services from the DoCoMo Google partnership, given DoCoMo’s pioneering of the mobile web with iMode and Google’s mobile services
  • Micro-content creation, despite appearing as a step back will be successful in terms of user adoption because of the services elegance, their lightweight nature allowing for easy usage on mobile phones and other computing devices
  • Mobile network operators will look to provide voice-differentiated services: for instance higher priority or quality voice calls via QoS applications working at layer 7, access (for a price) to VoIP services like Gizmo and Skype and broadband-on-the-go services beyond current walled-garden services to take advantage of the mobile web community supporting devices like the iPhone
  • In the forthcoming credit crunch-related economic correction the technology sector will not fall too hard because it has not soaked up that much money in IPOs or VC funds compared to the late 1990s, instead biotechnology and clean technology will take the fall