Sunday, December 21, 2008

NET9: Predictions For 2009

It would be a major understatement to say that much has happened this year, and there is no doubt that big changes are happening the world over. For many, it has been a challenge never seen before. From local economic struggles to enormous bail outs of mega corporations, the world's economies are in a disturbing state of flux. In order to stay abreast of the latest events in this fragile economic climate, one has to be able to access the information relevant to their needs from wherever they may be. In a time where you can find the shortest route to a destination, the cheapest gas prices in the area, real-time traffic conditions, and price comparisons on any salable object all online, mobile devices are the logical tools for tracking the changes in these growingly important areas. As we once again approach the end of this year and the beginning of a new one, we will attempt to look into the future...

- The Netbook Is The New Notebook
With netbooks growing even more popular than Apple's iPhone, expect to see more iterations of them appearing next year as well. The netbook phenomenon came out of nowhere and has made a niche in this new economic climate. I see this as only the beginning of a new era of computing. Some call it "cloud computing", I call it an evolutionary step in the history of the Internet. I see netbooks becoming increasingly more powerful, faster, and more energy efficient next year. I think much of untested ideas will be injected into some of the many netbook offerings to come. It will serve as a laboratory of sorts for better batteries, alternate connectivity models, display technologies, and more.

- The Sky Is The Limit With Cloud Computing
Once only referred to as "software as services", cloud computing is the new name for what is going on on the web today. Many applications that were previously only know to reside on a user's computer are being recreated for, enhanced by, and adapted to the Internet. This means the ability to create and access your content over the web. It also means that the combination of some of these services will forever change the way the web works. Just look at Google Maps with Street View to get an idea of where the web is headed. The future of the Internet will be very "cloudy", which ironically is a good thing.

- Video And Voice Chat Is Here
With the new voice and video features recently added to Gmail, you can expect a future boom in teleconferencing as well as web cam sales. And with more and more notebooks and netbooks coming standard with web cams built in, the idea doesn't seem as "futuristic" anymore. The next logical stage will of course be mobile video conferencing using those underused secondary cameras we've come to think nothing of. Well at least in the U.S. History has time and time again shot down the idea of video conferencing as a realistic method of communication in America. However, history can change very quickly in the right conditions. We've seen it happen before, and we're seeing it again. Video and voice communications will eventually be together. All it needs is the right conditions, and the conditions are just about right.

- Augmented Reality Is On The Horizon
What can you do with a mobile phone that has Assisted GPS, high resolution video capabilities, built-in accelerometers, built-in digital compass, and "always connected" high speed Internet access? Well, aside from making some interesting phone calls, augmented reality is possible. All these features are common on many phones today, but not exactly all in one device...yet. There is such a device on the horizon that will have all of those features and will be capable of some form of augmented reality. That device is the Nokia N97. The ability to enhance your environmental surroundings with relevant information according to your physical location is near. I have a feeling that the N97 will be the first of many such devices to bring augmented reality forward.

- N-Gage Shows Signs Of Maturity
With the recent release of big title games such as Metal Gear Solid Mobile and Resident Evil Degeneration, N-Gage is finally moving into the mobile gaming spotlight. These are top notch games that bring a new dynamic of gameplay by utilizing as many of the phone features as possible. For instance, Metal Gear Solid Mobile uses the phone's camera as a sort of accelerometer for certain in-game interactions. I look forward to many more awesome games for N-Gage next year. As we've seen so far, they will only get better over time.

- Mobile Browser Wars Begin
As IE mobile faces inevitable evolution, Firefox spreads from Nokia Internet Tablets to S60 devices, Opera Mini/Mobile grows in the sheer number of users, and Google's Chrome browser looking to be the perfect match for mobile devices, the browser wars seem to be heating up once again. This time the battlefield is the mobile space. Because of the larger number of mobile devices to PCs and notebooks, this particular browser war will be much more important to the companies involved. I also believe the winner will not be determined by numbers alone this time.

- In The Future, There Will Be Robots
We're talking about Google Android devices here folks. We all know there will be plenty of them soon, but we don't know what they look like yet. The T-Mobile G1 is the first Android device, and though it's still a "work in progress", I think the Android platform will be one to watch for years to come. I'm very excited to see a fresh new platform for mobile devices. If it doesn't do much of anything, it most definitely puts competing mobile platforms in wake-up mode. Platforms like Symbian and Windows Mobile had better have an air tight strategy to survive in a world where the fast growing Android platform is making big moves. I certainly have high hopes for Android, but it needs something a little more exciting than the G1 to show how good it really is.

- Economic Change Is Affecting Tech Trends
Sony, Apple, Nokia, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc. are all making big changes due to the current economic climate. Changes in product offerings, features, and pricing. Changes in marketing, company policies, and even customer support. All these companies are "tightening up" their products and services in some way to ensure they retain customers that are "tightening up" their wallets and purses. This new consumer awakening would cause some level of fear in any major corporation, but depending on how each one reacts, we could see either an evolution or elimination of big names going forward. The consumer has become more powerful than ever before and ironically enough, it doesn't take much to make a big difference in this industry anymore.

- Green Technology For A Better Future
I believe 2009 will be the year that much of the technology we want to use will also be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Not only because it's the "right thing to do", but because we can no longer afford to continue to use destructive tools in order to be creative. More efficient battery technology is needed now more than ever. Display technology has also developed a lot slower than many expected. Factories producing the devices we love to use need to have much less of an environmental impact. These are just some of the issues that need to be addressed, and one need only look to some of the big company names to see what they are doing to make future technology greener. Companies like IBM are making a big change to develop green solutions, and there are many more following suite. I don't think green technology will make the news very much, but count on seeing results from these developments one way or another.

Thanks to everyone for another exciting year of great mobile trends, and we look forward to seeing even more amazing ideas realized throughout next year and beyond. It's just as important to remember the past as it is to look to the future, so be sure to take time to look at our 20082007, and 2006 predictions too. Lots of change is coming in 2009, but always remember...

"Don't let the future happen, make it happen."


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