Well, here they are. Thanks to Freemind and my Blackberry, I've been making productive use of my time between sneezes and sniffles to make a long(ish) list of predictions for 2005. Some of them are (obviously) spoofs, most of them are not. All of them are a bit controversial and straight to the point.
And who knows, some of them may well come true. Stranger things have happened, after all.
- 2005 becomes the Year of MP3, with phone vendors expanding storage capacity to ludicrous levels. Nevertheless, Bluetooth headsets are still annoyingly mono.
- The iPhone will finally surface, along with an improved version of iSync capable of handling DRM iTunes content. Support for more phones will follow, but carriers try to block them in the simplest way possible: by not including those phones in their portfolio.
- Carriers spend vast undisclosed sums to promote their own online music stores. The war between carriers and standalone stores moves to the realm of exclusive distribution deals with music labels.
- Mobile data pricing creeps downward, stopping short of the usual pie-in-the-sky expectations. Pundits keep ranting about "the mobile Internet", without realizing that infrastructure costs have to be accounted for somehow.
- Prank video calls become the next tabloid-sponsored reason to ban camera phones.
- Exchange will get more mobility features, as Microsoft tries to woo carriers and corporates away from Blackberry devices (the next logical step is AirSync attachment compression/conversion for mobile devices).
- Symbian will finally show some backbone by riding their DoCoMo deal and trying to leverage that to force other carriers' hands.
- Nokia will start filing the rough edges off Series 60 and work on actually making it usable. They will not, however, churn out anything substantially better than the 6680 until the second half of the year. Series 40 handsets become increasingly more complex, filling every conceivable niche.
- As other manufacturers start aping Nokia on radical form factors, it starts getting creative software-wise: UI design and themeing becomes the order of the day, largely thanks to new Series 90 launches.
- Samsung will go after SonyEricsson and start improving their Bluetooth and syncing support.
- SonyEricsson will shrink the V800 to something closer to T610/Premini size and start competing with Series 40 phones in earnest.
- Motorola reinvents its phone UI again. Again, it sucks.
- Windows smartphones will persist in failing to make significant inroads, as carriers strive to protect their customer bases from MSN services and avoid turning into a "bit pipe" for Microsoft.
- PDA sales will slump further, even as HP keeps churning out model after model with meaningless references and no clear market focus.
- RIM will make a credible attempt at doubling their current market share, adding a larger number of licensed clients for other platforms to the mix.
- Wi-Fi and 3G-enabled Blackberries will start making the rounds. A model with a simple VGA camera is likely to follow, despite the US' paranoia towards camera phones. In the long term, it is unclear to what extent the handset business will keep being profitable for RIM unless they go beyond the 7100 and try their hand at the consumer market. Maybe a smaller, simpler 7100 is in the cards.
- Palm will persist in pushing the Treo range, doing minor updates (and possibly a "clean" OS 5 version). A "real" Tungsten (i.e., a metal model, not the cheap plastic thing they shipped this year) will come out on Spring. It may or may not run Palm OS 6, but it will definetly not be revolutionary.
Wireless and Broadband
- HSDPA becomes the new WiMax killer, even though there are no real WiMax deployments to speak of.
- WiMax gets nowhere, even though its proponents herald it as a "3G killer".
- Qualcomm makes a killing in WCDMA and HSDPA licensing. Again.
- Wi-Fi becomes even more of a mess.
- ADSL prices start flattening out. As per-user bandwidth increases, peering traffic mounts to a point where it becomes a slim margins business.
- Metro Ethernet offerings for SOHO/SMEs debut (some of which with Wi-Fi "last hops").
- Apple (who may or may not release a Sub-$500 iMac, an iPhone, a dual-G4 PowerBook or a G5 toaster) manages to surprise everyone yet again, revealing some new cool widget that sparks waves of geek lust all over the planet.
- Tiger hits the shelves. The usual Mac zealots complain (loudly) about the upgrade price. Three months later, Microsoft announces a new set of "revolutionary" and "unique" Longhorn features.
- iCal continues to suck.
- Address Book too, especially where LDAP support is concerned.
- The Finder persists on littering FAT32 drives with .garbage files and have no real WebDAV support.
- GarageBand is updated with a "publish to iTunes Music Store" feature, making it possible for everyone to sell their own music online. MP3.com is reborn, but with an Apple brushed metal decor.
IT and the Internet
- Microsoft announces Office 2006, which is to be (pick any two):
- Windows Server 2003 (which many people rightfully consider Microsoft's best product at this point) starts making inroads on the SME market, thanks to a more realistic (i.e., cheaper) pricing structure. Linux proponents make a lot of noise, but persist in failing to deliver a zero-learning-curve equivalent that does not require the use of vim (or a web interface that sucks) to edit configuration files.
- SIP becomes the protocol to support in 2005 as VoIP takes off. VoIP appliances and VoIP-enabled home routers start hitting the shelves in earnest.
- Skype strikes deals with quite a few of them, but persists on using its own proprietary protocol (although it might fix their buddy list support by letting users save their contacts on a central server).
- Apple starts looking at supporting Mono as a development target in Xcode, but does so quietly in order to minimize attrition with Microsoft.
- Mono will reach feature parity with .NET in its most important aspect: development tools. Borland (if it's still around) will finally get a grip on its death spiral and ship a cross-platform .NET environment.
- Microsoft's attorneys start looking more closely at Mono. A whole new form of anti-monkey FUD starts emanating from Redmond.
- IBM, who has slowly and ponderously been shifting away from the PC business, starts aiming at the enterprise platform marketplace. The 800-pound gorilla teams up with Mono to cause Microsoft some major headaches, and Exchange becomes its first designated target as the new generation of Lotus/Notes-derived products starts making the rounds.
The Media Revolution
- H.264 becomes the new DivX, making it viable to store the entire set of LOTR extended edition movies on a single disc.
- Media center appliances become an even hotter market. Windows Media Center, however, slowly sinks in its own DRM quagmire, since it won't let people store their own DVDs, access the iTunes music store or play DivX files.
- Sony announces that the PS3 will be able to do just that - rip DVDs to its hard disk, but only using their own proprietary format. Nevertheless, they quietly add H.264 support.
- BitTorrent is replaced by something even harder to control.
- Independent producers and regional TV stations start publishing RSS feeds of their program guides - and the occasional video file.
Linux and Open Source
- Fedora Core 4 and Ubuntu duke it out for the title of most popular Linux distro. Debian releases, but nobody notices.
- Gnome creeps to 3.0, finally hitting the sweet spot between stability and usability. Now all it needs is decent hardware configuration applets.
- Desktop notifications become a big thing, as the non-Mac world discovers Growl. Nobody hits on the fact that SIP is the right way to do it.
- The KDE camp comes up with even more frilly desktop themes. Configuring your average KDE desktop is still a qualified nightmare.
- OpenOffice persists in not having a decent Mac OS X port. NeoOffice/J turns Aqua, one widget at a time.
- Linux on laptops will continue to suck, since there are still no drivers for wireless and video card chipsets.
- Cory Doctorow starts annoying people to the degree where more moderate anti-DRM folk start debunking his inflamed, post-reactionary speeches. It's not that he doesn't have a point, it's that he steps way out of line when making it.
- Unperturbed, Cory joins forces with John C. Dvorak and Robert X. Cringely to form the Unholy Trinity of American Tech Pundits. A reign of terror ensues, with geeks all over the planet uniting against them and... er... wait a moment, geeks never unite (kudos to Nuno for completing my train of thought here).
- Russell Beattie establishes a new personal record of non-blogging days (just kidding, hope everything's alright since he hasn't posted in a while). He then proceeds to establish a new personal record of posts per diem, raving about every single new Nokia phone.
That's it for now. Whatever happens, I hope we all have an exceedingly happy New Year.