Lunatic's Tech Predictions for 2011
Ok, I missed a year for predictions. Except for a very small number of things, though, tech events in 2010 were largely a matter of "more of the same." For truly new developments we got the iPad, Kinect and PlayStation Move, and...? There were more Android smartphones, with Google both introducing and then discontinuing their own branded model within just a few months. Not unexpectedly, Facebook got bigger, the iPhone got more pixels and faster, Google launched beta web products that no one was still using at the end of the year, and Microsoft continued to fade from relevance as Windows 7 "slate" computers and their Kin phones failed to catch on. Sure, they finally got Windows Phone 7 out the door, but... Eh. A lot of the tech manufacturers seemed shell shocked about the announcement of the iPad in January and went into crisis mode, holding back and/or revamping their products until near the end of the year in hope of coming up with something that could compete. Meanwhile the netbook market has been stalling out. Not much excitement, there.
Oh, and the Beatles finally came out on iTunes. (On "just another day," which we'll "never forget"; but not because of what it WAS, but because of its letdown compared to the hyperbole of the announcement causing speculations about an iTunes subscription plan, or a streaming music service, etc.)
For 2011 I'd be remiss if I missed out on making predictions, as I see this year as being one of the most active in developments for a while. I've got lots to cover, so here we go:
- All of Apple's laptops become available without built-in optical drives
This was in my Apple Predictions for 2009+. This is the year I think it happens. (I'm doing really well on all the others on that list, though I'm going to reverse myself on one of them--see below.)
- One or more TVs come out with integrated AirPlay video streaming from iOS devices
Not from Apple, though. I still don't think they'll do their own branded TV.
- GoogleTV gets one or more content deals
It'll take them a while. Until (at least) then, GoogleTV adoption will be stagnant.
- More TV networks offer TV show rentals on AppleTV
Someone's gonna budge.
- Apple pushes an SDK for iOS app integration with AppleTV
Before Apple creates an SDK for standalone apps on the AppleTV there'll be enhancements to allow portable iOS devices to integrate with it more. One of the ways this will be done is by using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to download "helper" apps that run on the AppleTV, but are controlled entirely by the portable device (rather than the AppleTV's simple remote control).
- No standalone AppleTV App Store
If AppleTV ever does get dedicated apps, you'll need to use a portable iOS device and/or iTunes on a Mac or PC to browse and download them.
- Tablets are the new
Tablet computers will be announced by most of the companies who released smartphones in 2010, along with most of the companies who released HDTVs in 2010. And practically every company that released a laptop in 2010. Plus companies who've released ebook readers. Etc.
- Many "new platforms" will use similar technology but aren't very compatible
Hardware companies that don't have their own iOS/iTunes-style integrated platform for development and distribution on their devices will rely heavily on either Google Android or Adobe AIR (i.e. any company whose name isn't Apple, RIM, Nokia, or HP). A multitude of new SDKs and stores for content for smartphones, tablets, TVs, set top boxes, Blu-ray players, game systems, ebook readers, in-dash car systems, and other gadgets such as even GPS receivers will bloom. The operators will be hoping that their customers don't notice how fragmented it all is.
- "Convertible" hybrid tablets/netbooks/laptops
One of the biggest new categories in 2011 generating a lot of tech buzz will be "convertibles": Hybrids between netbooks/laptops and tablets, running a variety of OSes. Convertibles will be able to be used either laptop-style with a hardware keyboard, or converted to tablet computers by flipping or sliding the keyboard behind the screen or separating them.
- Google's Android competes with Chrome OS on laptops/netbooks
Google Android-powered laptops/netbooks will be announced in 2011 that are both convertibles, as above, as well as dedicated clamshell devices that actually can't be converted to tablets. Google would rather have those products use Chrome OS, but Android already has a much larger base of developers and users that the manufacturers will be eyeing.
- Google's Chrome OS competes mainly with netbooks
Chrome OS will be released and it will take over a notable portion of the netbook market, but the netbook market will be in significant decline at that point due to tablets. Confusion increases for consumers, between netbooks powered by Android, Chrome OS, Windows, Linux, etc. Lots of tech articles are written about why you might want one over another (especially getting near the holiday season at the end of the year).
- Initial iPhone on Verizon uses CDMA/EVDO, but not LTE
This is where I reverse myself on a prediction from 2009, where I claimed that Apple would never make a CDMA/EVDO version of the iPhone. It's just going to take too long for LTE technology to be adopted broadly enough.
The first model of the iPhone on Verizon will be a minor revision of the iPhone 4, with CDMA/EVDO support, and without support for GSM/UMTS or LTE.
- 5th generation iPhone is a single model that supports both GSM/UMTS and CDMA/EVDO
The full, next generation of the iPhone released over the summer will unify support for Verizon and AT&T in a single device. The CDMA/EVDO-only and GSM/UMTS-only iPhone 4 models will continue to be sold as cheaper "entry-level" iPhones (so the CDMA/EVDO-only iPhone will still have a lifetime lasting into 2012).
- No micro-USB ports on the iPhone
Apple will not add a micro-USB port to the iPhone in order to comply with the European Commission's micro-USB universal charging standard. Instead, they will begin including a separate micro-USB adapter with iPhones sold in the European Union. The iPad and iPods don't apply under the European Commission's universal charging standard, so the micro-USB adapter won't be included in the box with those, but it might be available separately.
- iPad with LTE, CDMA/EVDO, HSPA+
A model of the iPad will be released in 2011 that will support all of the following in one device: LTE, CDMA/EVDO, HSPA+, and all of the wireless standards that the current iPad with 3G supports. This will be Apple's first device that supports LTE, but NOT its first device that supports CDMA/EVDO (see above).
- iMovie debuts on iPad
A front-facing camera for FaceTime video chat on the next generation iPad is a given. Not everyone agrees that a camera on the back would make as much sense, because you'd have to be holding up a large tablet to use it. With its large screen the iPad would be ideal for running iMovie, though, so in that context a camera on the back makes sense. (Movies made with just iMovie on an iPad will be winning some awards.)
- Apple will not release an iPad with a 7" screen in 2011
- iPod touch with 3G data
The data plans will be similar or identical to those on the iPad with 3G. Since the iPod touch has to lag behind the iPhone as Apple's premeire pocketable portable device, it probably won't have LTE, to better differentiate them.
- RIM tries and fails at a "dual OS" strategy
Research in Motion (RIM) will announce Blackberry smartphones using the new OS their PlayBook tablet runs on. Once the new smartphone models are available, however, they'll make the mistake of still using their old OS in other new models throughout the year. They'll do this to keep phones with their old OS as "entry level" models vs. "premium" models running the new OS. Sales and 3rd party support of devices using their old OS will dry up quickly, though, resulting in a lot of waste on RIM's part.
- Lackluster adoption of RIM's Blackberry PlayBook tablet
While the web browser in the PlayBook tablet supports Adobe Flash (unlike the iPad), support for built-in e-mail and calendaring on the device is absent. It's posible that RIM hopes that overall desire for the PlayBook will actually drive sales of their smartphones in order to fulfill the missing e-mail and calendaring support. This would be misguided. Instead, pretty much no one who doesn't already use a Blackberry will buy it. In contrast, plenty of people who have Blackberry phones are and will continue to be buying iPads and other tablets (Android and HP's webOS tablets will be supporting Flash, as well). RIM's share of the smartphone market is declining. Draw your own conclusions.
- Dell releases Google Android phones in the U.S.
Will anyone really care?
- NFC hype
Near-Field Communications (NFC), like the Osaifu Keitai system in Japan, where you can use your mobile phone to pay for things, will get a lot of hype in 2011, but it'll fall far short of expectations.
- Watch(es) using eInk
If only for the fashion statement.
- Someone releases a Google Android-based portable game device
Hopefully it'll do better than the N-Gage, Tapwave Zodiac, or Gizmondo.
- Microsoft will announce a Windows app marketplace similar to the Mac App Store
...but it's not actually released in 2011.
- Apple doesn't create an App Store for Windows
...but thanks to the success of the Mac App Store lots of pundits speculate about them doing it.
- Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" will be available in a USB stick version
This will be like the Mac OS X software install USB stick included with the MacBook Air, but for all supported Macs. (Fulfilling another of my Apple Predictions for 2009+.)
- Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" for ARM processors
A version of Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" that runs on ARM architecture processors will be released along with the version that runs on Intel processors. Developers will be able to "flip a switch" in Xcode to create "fat binary" versions of their Mac OS X software that will run on both Intel and ARM processors. This may be announced as early as Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC) in the middle of the year. It won't mean that Apple is moving away from Intel processors.
- iPod Classic with Flash storage
If the iPod Classic survives 2011, its next revision will replace the hard drive with Flash RAM.
- Apple streaming music service
Apple will finally leverage their acquisition of Lala and create a streaming music service.
- Apple's new North Carolina data center will be used for streaming data & cloud processing
Apple's new data center in North Carolina will go online initially in support of streaming music, and eventually video as well. Additional expansion will include increased cloud storage of user files and backups, leading to improved "anywhere" access of a user's data from all of Apple's portable devices.
It's possible that the processing power of computers in Apple's data center will be leveraged via integration with new features in Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" and future versions of iOS. This would allow the offloading of some intense processor activity to increase the power of a device past its CPU limits, while reducing the load on its CPU resulting in increased battery life for portable devices.
- Facebook phone platform
There won't be a single specific "Facebook phone," per se, but they'll release a platform that other companies can use to build feature phones where the address book, email, messaging, photo gallery, etc. are all tightly integrated with Facebook.
- Skype phone
Skype will create a phone that doesn't require voice minutes but instead uses data-only plans with the Skype VoIP service. The SkypeOut feature will be used to connect to non-Skype phones. The phone won't be cheap, because carriers will be reluctant to sell it subsidized.
- PSP Phone
Sony will release their rumored PSP Phone, but it won't be able to reverse the slowing sales of the PSP line.
- Windows Phone 7 will be the Palm Pre of 2011
Tech pundits thought the Palm Pre was pretty cool, too.
- webOS tablets and updated Palm Pre from HP
Speaking of the Palm Pre, neither the one or more tablets running webOS, or the updated Palm Pres that HP releases will achieve significant marketshare.
- The lines between ebook readers and tablets will continue to blur
Amazon's Kindle will take on more tablet-like general functionality and maybe a color screen. Meanwhile Barnes & Noble will announce a version of their Nook ebook reader running Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" that will be marketed as a best-of-both-worlds combination of a leading ebook reader and a full-fledged tablet. Sony's ebook readers will lag behind in gaining more tablet-like features.
- Twitter will NOT be bought by any other company in 2011
...but neither will it IPO.
- Facebook will not IPO in 2011
The IPO well has been poisoned.
- Lots of markets for non-public stock will flourish in 2011
These non-public stock markets will each be contained entirely within a big investment company. Lots of private companies, like Facebook, will use these private markets to raise capital instead of going for IPOs.
Bonus predictions (I consider these more "out there," but if I'm right, I win big!):
42 total. The ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything! We'll see if I'm right!
- "Convertible" MacBook/iPad with touchscreen
This will use the version of Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" that runs on ARM processors that I mentioned above. Its form will be more like an iPad with a detachable (Bluetooth) keyboard+trackpad that runs OS X than like an Intel MacBook that also runs iOS. The Mac OS X mode will require the keyboard and trackpad. In iPad mode the keyboard will be usable but not required, and the trackpad won't normally be used. It won't have an optical drive, of course. It'll use an Apple-developed CPU like the A4 used in current iOS devices. It may include a translation layer to run existing Intel OS X apps. It may alternately leverage Apple's new data center to run Intel OS X apps on virtual machines in the cloud, with the output displayed on the screen using a VNC-like system. It won't run BootCamp or other Windows-running software, though. The iWork and iLife suites of software will be available for it immediately.
Once it's announced, lots of commenters on tech sites will say it's nothing new and that convertables have already been released by other companies, and they'll compain about how Apple's convertible is unfairly getting all the press. :)
Apple will release a watch with the functions of an iPod built in to it. (And makers of accessory watch bands for the current iPod nano will groan.)
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Content originally created and copyright 11 Jan 2011.