Annual 2009 Predictions

It’s that time of the year again, and this year I thought it might be worth reviewing my 2008 predictions to help put my thoughts on next year in perspective.

At the top of my list for 2008 was a general downsizing at Google. While they have gone through at least one round of layoffs with plans for downsizing the contractor workforce, it’s tough to say this wasn’t instigated by the general downturn in the global economic climate. At this point, as Yahoo! struggles to survive through any kind of acquisition it seems likely that Google may need to adjust further to the changing market.

Meanwhile, SSD’s grew by leaps and bounds with a number of high profile laptops shipping with solid state storage built in. Environmentally friendly PC’s were relatively popular, particularly with the eco-friendly Mac laptops. Set-top devices like Roku and AppleTV were able to demonstrate the viability of on-demand video with plenty of popular TV shows available from both of these services.

So, what’s in store for 2009?

  1. Open Source Proliferates. The unfavorable economic climate means that companies will be looking to cut costs. Open source software offers some excellent alternatives to commercial solutions at a fraction of the cost. While this should help Linux adoption rates, we should also see popular open source alternatives like OpenOffice, PostgreSQL, Apache, Firefox and others gain significant market share.
  2. Filesystem Clusters. While the cost of storage has been plummeting, the technology for distributed file systems has been advancing steadily. There are consumer grade systems like Wuala and enterprise class clustering environments like MFS (Moose File System). Expect to see many companies adopting systems like MFS and in many cases eliminate the need for tape backups in the process.
  3. iPod Alternatives. At the moment, the Google Android is the most likely candidate but it is possible that Microsoft or even perhaps Blackberry could provide a suitable competitor. This may be in tandem with an iTunes substitute; for example, Amazon has an excellent MP3 download service that works on virtually any platform. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the awkward limitations presented by the iPod and Apple’s bundled iTunes services. While Apple sales may not decline overall, expect to see market share shift as one or more other devices gain traction.
  4. Borrowed Hardware. Just about every piece of computer hardware has a financing option, when shopping at Dell or Apple you can lease your system for a few dollars every month. This will become increasingly popular in the new year as many customers seek to defray the cost of new equipment.
  5. Microsoft Saves Windows? The Vista operating system had a bumpy ride, if it wasn’t for Mohave one might almost think it didn’t work. This year will be pivotal for the Windows family of products, Microsoft must demonstrate that Windows 7 offers improved performance with an easy upgrade path from Windows XP.

There are certainly some other things that Microsoft can do to help the Windows brand, but I will save that for another day. Suffice it to say, if Microsoft fails to make inroads they will continue to lose market share to Apple and Linux.

Another trend worth noting is SSD has been helping the growth in the netbook market segment, many users now shopping for laptop computers tend to favor smaller and lighter netbook laptops. These tend to be less expensive and are easier to carry with you, as these have been selling well there have been significant inroads made to the Linux desktop installation base. This trend should continue into the new year, and if Microsoft is unable to make a strong value propisition for Windows 7 then these users will be upgrading other hardware to Apple and Linux.