Annual 2008 Predictions

It looks like 2007 was the year of the iPhone and possibly the year that Apple went into growth overdrive. Not only are they the darlings of Wall Street, but Apple has demonstrated increasing share in the home PC market. Of course, social networks continue to grow with Badoo, Xanga, Facebook and MySpace in contention with more professional networks like LinkedIn. What does this mean for the new year, and what about my prediction for the demise of hi-def video formats?
So what’s in store for 2008:

  1. Google Downsizes. Let’s face it, Google is just a website and while they may have their tenticals into everything they also trade at a P/E ratio that is simply unrealistic. On top of everything else, they have made the mistake of hiring too many smart people, and while this might be acceptable if you’re an educational institution in the business world this leads to new companies.
  2. Solid State Storage. This trend has already started, but in the coming year consumers are going to be buying solid state media in much greater numbers. While these drives need to increase in capacity before they can be a wholesale replacement, in portable devices they are an ideal choice. This will prove to be yet another challenge for Microsoft Vista and we can already see the first batch of solid state laptops (Eee PC) relying more on Linux alternatives, the real benefit here is that a Linux configuration can be adapted to the smaller footprint flash drives and are easily optimized for I/O performance.
  3. Eco-Friendly Computers. We already have the technology to make computers more eco-friendly. This requires high-efficiency power supplies, smart hard drives and adaptive power management using software and hardware. Look for mainstream PC vendors to start touting green systems that are environmentally friendly. These will be sold at a premium with the expectation that the systems are going to save you money on your electric bill.
  4. Linux Upsizes. People are going to be buying computers with Linux on them this year and in many cases they might not even know it. A number of major vendors now ship Linux, including Dell and Walmart, but the quality of the distributions vary significantly. The kind of experience people have with these different distributions will define the outlook for open source computing in the years to follow. It’s worth noting that even Microsoft has started to embrace the open computing paradigm, so 2008 should be quite interesting indeed.
  5. HD Set-Top Devices. Meanwhile, the HD battles continue between the ill-fated HD-DVD and BluRay formats. Neither disc ends the year with a significant market share, and the longer this continues the greater the probability that neither disc will win. All of this is complicated by the arrival of HDTV broadcasts beginning in 2009, and consumers are notorious for not picking the standards they are given. Alliances are being made to provide online distribution with popular video providers such as Apple and Netflix, so watch for more set-top boxes that can stream HD content and expect one or more primary TV network to begin showing streaming-only content for a major show.

So while in 2008 you might need your Microsoft Media Center to watch the next Survivor, you will at least be able to enjoy this in HD quality. Traditional broadcast TV is behind the technology curve, and the financial impact of HDTV equipment upgrades may in fact adversely affect the network of available broadcast towers.

The good news is computers are going to get much better from a longevity standpoint with the adoption of solid state drives. Since we seem to be arriving in the decade of good enough computing, a multi-core processor with a few gigabytes of RAM should be enough to last for quite a while.