During the noughties (sorry) we have seen the rise of social networking as a cultural phenomena, video become ubiquitous, computers become so small they can fit in your pocket and watched the web increasingly become a two-way experience with everyday users – as opposed to pottering nerds – contributing to the medium.
Even the past year has been revolutionary in my family. My mother and father, historically confused and terrified by the internet, have bought their first computer (as opposed to never-used hand-me-downs that I’ve retired). They now have fast broadband internet. And, quite astonishingly, have finally asked me to set them up with an Amazon account – using their very own debit card, no less.
My father is amazed by Spotify. He’s even bought himself a £50 speaker package. My parent’s disbelief never fades at the fabulously obscure guff they can source on the Net. And sometime soon, I can be sure, that terrifying moment will come when my mum ‘friends’ me on facebook.
And so, we start a new year and a fresh decade. The mind boggles at the advances we may make in technology in the next ten years, so I’ll play it safe and make a few suggestions on what we might see over the next twelve months.
A couple of years ago, I did something similar but it took two years for some of the braver predictions to materialise.
I predicted a smaller 11.1” MacBook Pro. We got a 13” Air (and eventually a MBP). I said that Blu-Ray players would crack the £99 price-point, which they now have. I said the PS3 would see a recovery and that on-demand TV would become increasingly popular (well-duh!). And I suggested that Google would announce a Linux-based desktop OS.
I don’t see any revolutions in 2010. I see evolution.
That Apple Tablet
The now boring rumour of an Apple tablet device obsessed the technology world in ’09. I have no doubt that somewhere deep within the catacombs of Cupertino, such a prototype exists… but seriously, who wants one?
Why would I want a £600+ media tablet?
I already have a 13” MacBook Pro with a DVD drive, a glorious screen, Handbrake and VLC installed, decent speakers (although my deceased 15” MBP had better audio), and a 250GB HDD. I also have a 10” netbook, a BlackBerry and an iPod Touch for mobile internet, email, writing and browsing.
Why would I want to blow a small fortune on a device which does nothing new, but might do something things a tad better and look fabulous while doing it?
Google’s Android and Chrome brands will continue to grow and claim market share.
Cell-phone manufacturers, keen to exploit the recession-resistant growth in smart-phones, will flock to Android as a solution to pathetically bad attempts to create a usable handheld GUI.
More and more developers, frustrated by the increasingly bizarre iPhone App-Store approval process or looking to exploit a wider user-base, will start creating programmes for Andoid phones.
My fear is that service providers (looking at you, Verizon) will look to lock down subsidised Android phones and limit the availability of applications.
I think Sony deserves a little praise for investing and having faith in electronic-books early on. Sony’s products are well-designed and the company remains surprisingly committed to the format. But Amazon, with its deep publishing connections and stupendously popular retail operation, was always going to hit the ground running – even if its early hardware looked like something that had dropped off R2-D2.
I don’t foresee stellar growth in e-book readers. They’re a bit like the modern equivalent of a bread-maker. Great idea, but I’ll probably never use it.
It’s not as if electronic versions of books are particularly cheap, and I personally prefer a familiar paperback to the cold plastic of a Kindle.
Sony will not announce a new system in 2010, and Microsoft seems happy enough with its 360 hardware. But Nintendo’s Wii was always on borrowed time in a world where everyone has a HDTV. A lot of people are suggesting a slight refresh of the current hardware with 1080p output.
A slight hardware revision would certainly be consistent with Nintendo’s handheld strategy, where they have made incremental improvements to the DS without radically overhauling the format.
However, Nintendo are not under the same pressure as Sony and Microsoft to squeeze every drop of value out of the Wii hardware. Beyond the revolutionary controller, the Wii wasn’t a huge technological leap. It’s essentially a GameCube on caffeine. Unlike the PS3 and 360, the Wii was profitable from day one.
Nintendo could quite happily offer significantly more power, improved motion control, high-def output, and a better web-experience without the sort of deluded and expensive R&D self-flagellation that Sony puts itself through with every new console.
Super Wii, anyone? Or is that a joke too far?
As for games to watch, I actually think Halo Reach might turn out to be something of a revelation. Lono at Sarcastic Gamer suggested a class-based revision of the usual Halo experience. This, if implemented with Bungie’s usual commitment to quality and community, could pull me away from Modern Warfare 2 next summer.
Also, expect Super Mario Galaxy 2 to offer more glorious platform goodness.
I feel I have more to write, but let’s be honest… this post is long enough already. More soon. Promise.