Martin’s Weblog

I Never make Predictions and Never Will: IT predictions For 2008

My IT Crystal Ball is showing me all things Mobile and all things Web – has it got tunnel vision or is this really the future it is showing me?

I’m expecting to see a swing during the year towards user oriented personal computing.

Expect to see lots of very small and friendly devices with on-line web capability and touch screens.  In particular I am expecting the rise of access away from the traditional computer (desktop and laptops) to WADs and smartphones.

Expect to see a rise in the development of the personal web through social networks, web 2 and personal information environments such as iGoogle.

WADs (Web Access Devices)

The thinner your WAD the better.

Easter looks like being a key period in 2008 with Menlow and large Solid State Discs becoming available (see hardware section below).

Expect to see increasingly slim, light units with good battery life, net access and touch screens. These devices may have local software but access to the web is where they will excel and cutting down the costs of local software will keep the WAD cost down. The browser will be the main feature – the operating system while important will become less significant. In this respect the Asus Eee from 2007 set the scene for WADs to come in 2008.

 Apple are expected to announce a wafer thin Macbook in the January 15 Macworld for example – like the Iphone and many other Apple products this is likely to generate a lot of interest and could set the scene for the year.

We may see more of the

Mobile Internet

Iphone users comment that they prefer to access the web from their Iphones rather than their computers – it’s more convenient and faster (certainly by the time you start up a computer and get on-line) and will be even better with faster mobile internet speeds.

Expect to see a lot more people using their phones to access information – this is personal computing the way it should be.

Below are some anticipated hardware and software developments that have caught my attention.

Hardware

45nm chip manufacturing and competition

We are currently at 65nm sizes – in 2008  Intel and IBM will bring forth some great products from powerful, multi-core server CPU’s to very small, low power highly integrated (system on chip) parts.

Large Flash memories and Solid State Drives

 I remember paying more than £1Mb a few years back – will 2008 be the year when we get to £1Gb?

Fuelled by consumer products (cameras, audio, phones etc) the Production of memory and Solid state drives is set to increase in 2008 with Toshiba among others are due to release 128Gb SSDs around March.  Solid state drives are smaller, faster and consume less power than electro-mechanical traditional drives – meaning smaller, faster and longer lasting digital devices.

Menlow

 Around April 2008 Intel is due to release the 45nm Silverthorne CPU and Menlow UMPC  architecture – Menlow is planned to consume half the power of current UMPC designs and just 25% of the older Celeron M architecture.

Touch and gesture

2007 was the year when Interface innovation outshone basic technology power – the Apple iPhone and Nintendo Wii are both less powerful than their competitors but stole the show.  There is now talk about how the success of the mouse has hindered interface development – it seems just possible that the Wii and iPhone could herald a revolution in interface design.  Touch interfaces seem likely to take off soon but gesture (like voice control) are likely to take a longer – I’m looking forward to the day when I can show my computer (running Vista) the finger and it understand what I mean.

Microsoft have been demonstrating their Surface for most of 2007 and due to actually release something in 2008 – most likely in the touch sensitive table format. However, Apple have worked at the personal end – the touch technology in the iPhone is probably the best loved feature of the iPhone and due to revolutionise interfaces. Like much of what Apple does the rest of the industry will follow- both Toshiba and Dell have both announce touch sensitive tablet for example.

Software

I can’t really think of anything interesting to say about traditional software – we are expecting Windows 2008 server and SQL server 2008 this year – I’m just hoping that Microsoft can get Vista fixed.  The importance of the operating system seems to be fading – this is perhaps why Vista is not being adopted as fast as previous new operating systems (remember the fanfare for windows 95). Expect to see more non Microsoft operating systems being used.  Most Virtualisation suppliers have new products due for 2008 and the competition is hot – Virtualisation looks set to be huge for both servers and personal devices in 2008.

All the action seems to be on-line and on the Web – it’s here where development and “distribution” are faster. “The network is the Computer”. There will be battles of the giants, frantic acquisition activity and exciting unexpected development away from mainstream attention. This could be the year when Google’s infinite expansion succumbs to the real world and the rot sets in – it happens to them all.

Web Browser

The action on the web means that the software on your device will become less important – as long as it has a good browser. However, pervasive net access is not yet a reality so to address this issu Google (Gears ), Adobe ( Air ) and Microsoft (Silverlight) have developed systems for on-line/off-line application . Expect to see a lot more WADs “Web Access Devices” – small cheap units like the Asus Eee.

The Iphone Safari browser now sets the standard for mobile web access – a full and proper AJAX browser that the user can zoom in and out of instead of a special mobile version needing web side work to detect and deliver. Like WAP, special mobile browsers just won’t get developer attention.

Social Networking

Social networking reached something of critical mass in 2007 – suddenly we found figures like 80% of teenagers and 40% of adults use it. With such momentum behind it Social networking development will be big news in 2008 but with nearly everyone already using social networks I think the big stories will be about application development and interfaces – in a saturated market this will determine who steals who’s users, where the newbies go.

Web 2

Like social networking Web 2 applications reached critical mass in 2007 but the application potential of Web 2 has only just begun. The news value of web 2 developments and how we use them won’t get the attention of social networking but the impact will be more fundamental.  Expect a lot more use of collaborative-shared-web applications and development of web applications for just about anything you can think of and haven’t thought of yet.

Location based services

Location and geographic applications really took off in 2007. In the same way that few people seem to go to a printed encyclopaedia (I can’t spell it anymore) most people look up location data on Google Maps or Microsoft Live search. On-line location demonstrates MASH extremely well and shows how much more you can do on-line  – for example you could bring up the map of your area, search for restaurants,  compare menus and prices, get contact information, see if they are free, book a table and directions from where you are. With London hosting the next Olympics the market for location based services is set to go critical in London over the next few years again fuelling the development of mobile internet access.

Web 2 x Social networking and the PIE (Personal Information Environment)

More wish fulfilment than crystal ball gazing is that there will at some point be a good combination of social networking and Web 2. Currently web 2 sites like Zoho or Google don’t have the well developed communities of myspace or facebook . Currently social network sites don’t have the well developed applications of web 2 sites. Whoever can solve the puzzle and put the two parts together will have the whole market to expand into. It’s impossible to predict who will achieve this – for the big established players I’m thinking that there will have to be a merger or acquisition but Google might have a solution with Opensocial. We might however see a solution from anyone.

Developments like opensocial point to another solution – the Personal Information Environment (PIE) where the user can MASH together their own “portal” – a site the user builds to interact with the Internet – a place where the user pulls in the various social networks, applications and data feeds. We have seen signs of this in 2007 with the applications that allow Facebook users to interact with various systems and with sites like Pageflakes and iGoogle that allow users to create and customise a “home” page with RSS feeds and links.

My opinion is that the PIE offers the most interesting possibilities by providing a superset to Web 1, web 2 and social networking this could change the nature of the web as we know it -everyone will have their own interface and suppliers will focus on content and interfaces to it rather than presentation.

Web 3 (Semantics and AI)

AI and expert systems used to be a discrete subject for development but it has been “folded” into the mainstream and for over 10 years we have seen the piecemeal introduction of AI into software products (features that automatically tune operating systems and “help” the users of applications). As the amount of information available grows tools which get better content results and make better data connections will become more popular –  tools like Hakia, Powerset and  wikipedia-like efforts like Twine and Freebase may rise to challenge Google in the same way Google rose to challenge and overtake the established players like Yahoo and some years ago.

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January 3, 2008 - Posted by | ICT

5 Comments »

  1. Thank you for IT Predictions for Year 2008.

    Comment by Petras | January 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. Excellent review.

    Comment by Peter Vi | January 4, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] time last year here is my first tweet for example and you can see all my past blogs including my Predictions for 2008 to see how good, bad or ugly they […]

    Pingback by I Never make Predictions and Never Will: Media Predictions For 2009 « Martin’s Weblog | January 4, 2009 | Reply

  4. […] Recent IT developments promote ACTIVE IT through consumerisation and personalisation developments in mobile technology and use (smartphones, UMPCs, WADs, mobile broadband) and through continued development in the capabilities of on-line social networking and Web 2 applications and spaces. The IT developments suggest the tools required. […]

    Pingback by Education: PIE and MASH-Beyond Space and Time « Martin’s Weblog | January 6, 2009 | Reply

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