Here is a quick list of my top computing and communications predictions for 2009 ranging from smartphones to supercomputers.
1. Smartphone AppMania continues
The explosion of application development on smartphone platforms like the iPhone and G1 continues, particularly in location-based services, social interaction and gaming. More computer science departments offer smartphone application development classes. There is more standardization of USB, earphone and other ports. U.S. ARPU is over $100/month.
2. Twitter is the platform
Despite renowned technical glitches, thousands more flock to messaging-leader Twitter and the fastest-growing user group of the microblogging notification system is non-human tweeters using the service as a data platform, example: Kickbee. Web 2.0 continues to bring back network computing, turning the web into the computer and human and object-based messaging becomes the new RSS.
3. Minis go mainstream
Mini PCs such as the Asus Eee PC, MSI Wind and Dell Inspiron continue to proliferate. Minis are fingertip candy; a travel machine for the on-the-go tech-savvy and too cheap to not be affordable for others at $200-$400.
4. Supercomputers achieve 8% human capacity
With IBM’s RoadRunner and Cray’s Jaguar running at just over 1 petaflop/s currently, the world’s fastest supercomputers could reach 1.5 petaflop/s in 2009 (unconfirmed results here), about 8% of the total processing capacity of the average human.
5. Chips: 32nm node rolls out amidst sales declines
Intel rolls out its 32nm node 1.9 billion transistor chip despite worldwide industry sales declines. Gartner forecasts a 4% decrease in chip sales in 2008 vs. 2007 and a 16% decrease in chip sales in 2009 vs. 2008. The biggest speedups continue to come from hardware, not software, and there could be additional breakthroughs in memory (flash, NRAM), magnetic disk storage, batteries and processor technology.
6. iWorld persists
The 200 millionth iProduct is sold before Apple’s CEO succession plan is in place.
7. WiMAX roll-out still stalled
WiMAX services could roll-out to 1-2 cities beyond Baltimore by year-end if Sprint and Clearwire’s operational and legal challenges are resolved. WiMAX would help to stratify connectivity offerings with a recession-attractive price point and bandwidth package (2-4 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload speed; 6 month introductory price of $25/month, then $35/month).
8. More flexible media consumption models
More models for flexible on-demand pay/free video content viewing are launched for Tivo, Netflix, DVR, media PC and Internet consumers.
9. Video gaming grows
Video game titles, types and hours growth continues as escapism and low-cost entertainment options flourish.
10. Extended use of virtual worlds
Virtual world penetration and proliferation continues (Sony’s recent launch: PlayStation Home) at a slow and steady pace for both entertainment and serious use. The largest platform, Second Life, saw a 50% year-over-year increase in total hours and a 100% year-over-year increase in land ownership (much less exposure to virtual subprimes), and this rate of growth could easily continue in 2009. In the natural evolution of the Internet, virtual worlds continue expanding from the 3 Cs (communication, collaboration and commerce) to more advanced rapid prototyping, simulation and data visualization.
Other advances that could be around the corner:
- Speech-recognition version of Google translate
- More automated quantified self-measurement tools like the GoWearFit and FitBit
- Device convergence, one example: automated quantified self-measurement sensors built directly into existing mobile devices (G3?)
- In Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), basic video gaming avatar movement functionality via non-invasive EEG-based helmet; not quite working yet
Still waiting, a few other (non-comprehensive) opportunities:
- Semantic web
- Natural language processing
- VLT (very long-term) laptop batteries
- Wireless power
- Ubiquitous free Wi-Fi
- Paper-thin reader for newspapers, eBooks and any printed content
- Cognition valet and other AI services