With the beginning of a new year, this is always a wonderful opportunity for luddites such as myself to expound on the state of technology in the forthcoming year. There are a few emerging trends that are worth watching in the upcoming months.

  1. USB Flash Memory. This is quickly emerging as the replacement for the floppy disk, but if you combine this with the emergence of 4GB flash memory, USB 2.0 and a flash bootable BIOS it becomes possible to do all sorts of neat things. This will be the year of the 2 GB flash drive, and we should witness 4GB proliferating by Q4.
  2. 19″ LCD flat panel displays. These LCD models are rapidly gravitating towards the $400 mark and should easily hit $250-$300 by the end of 2005. By next year, it seems likely that you will be able to pickup a nice 19″ flat panel display for $100 at your local electronics supermarket.
  3. Color LaserJet everywhere. Now that black and white laserjet printers cost about $100, the next big shift is going to be color laserjet for about the same amount. At least for this year, it seems likely that color laser printers will become increasingly available for around $500, and should drop briskly to $250 for the holiday 2005 shopping season. Many of these will include scanners and fax machines, and specialized color printers will tend to fill the niche market for printing digital photos.
  4. Virtual PC revolution. The cost of computer hardware continues to fall, and the vast majority of servers are fundamentally underutilized. Most IT staff are recognizing this, and the next major paradigm shift on the server will be hardware virtualization using products like VMware. Thus, in 2005 it will be increasingly popular to host a number of production servers on a single host.

Finally, 2005 will definitely not be the year for software. Microsoft is blundering with Windows XP Starter Edition and AOL is trying to compete by offer anti-virus software. The advent of Longhorn looms but there is little promise that it can provide anything Windows isn’t already doing. It seems like we might have stepped into an alternate universe, but a weak market for the dominant software vendors will give Linux and OS X an opportunity to garner further market share.