Trends of 2009
The year has more or less come to an end. It has been a very exciting year for me, as I have been working with projects like accessability, web standards and Internet trends. So let me dedicate one of this years’ last blog updates to the trends that I think we will see appearing next year.
And yes, you can comment on this blog now in 2008 and come back to it in 2010, and then criticize me for all the wrong predictions that I made.
I have always been holding back on the use of Web 2.0 applications, and some might say for a good reason. Others will probably criticize me for what I am about to write.
I have never liked the economy surrounding Web 2.0. Millions have been thrown after web developers with ideas that have been everything but unique. A good example here is microblogging (and for instance Twitter) with up to 138 signs per post. Ever felt like SMS messages being to small? Me too!
One of the good things with the economic crises is the fact that a lot of poorly managed Web 2.0 companies will have to downsize and some of them even close their doors. For you as an enduser, making choices on what application to use, will perhaps be easier. I even had an evil smile around my mouth when reading about Technorati downsizing, but had close to a tear in my eyes when reading that Last.fm had to do the same.
2008 was a year where digital cameras and mobile phones started to get GPS built in, and where we started to geotag data that we published on the Internet. Searches have gone from separate pages for types of results, such as videos, images, maps, and websites to a more universal view, a single page for all these search results. With the introduction of Google accounts, we have gotten Personalized Search. All your searches are logged, and presentation of new search results are based on your previous searches (as well as information tracked with Google applications like Gmail, Google toolbar, AdWords, etc.).
What I hope to see more of in 2009 is geosearch and speech recognition. We already see the first attempts in the mobile market, especially with the iPhone (Lockly, Trafikanten, etc.). We want to know more about the services available close by us, and not necessarily the most clicked search result on Google. Examples on such search results are the closest ATM, coffee bar, tram stop and when the next tram is leaving. As for tourists, geosearches can give them information about the shortest walking distance to parks, museums and galleries. Lockly also shows that geosearches can be combined with Web 2.0 services like Wikipedia and Flickr as Mashups. Another good example is search for restaurants nearby, combined with user reviews.
Both Webkit (nightly builds of Safari) and Firefox 3.1 have gotten W3C’s Geolocation API implemented, and I assume that Opera 10 will get it implemented as well. All three, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, have services with geolocation enabled, and Microsoft and Google have geosearch functionality for mobile devices.
In short, I hope to see laptops with built-in GPS and better geosearch services. Adding GPS to laptops will also minimize the gap between mobile phones and computer. These devices will in time melt together.
The Year MP3-Players Died
I guess you will still be able to buy MP3-players in 2009, and so also in 2010. But more and more mobile phones now come with lots of inbuilt memory and the possibility to extend it with another 32 GB.
Most smartphones will come with super-3G, so called HSDPA, with download speeds up to 7,2 Mbps in Norway, but some countries might get their first 4G nets (with LTE-technology).
Have you often wanted to be able to pay for goods and services with your mobile phone? Many have, and GSMA, the organisation working on the behalf of the telecom providers, have announced that they want all mobile phones to have inbuilt NFC from next year on. NFC is a wireless technology over short distances, based on a chipset that lets you use your mobile phone as a wallet.
I love Xobni, and see other companies trying to do some of the same things. Yahoo introduced, in the end of 2008, a new prototype version of Yahoo Mail, which is more a communications hub than e-mail client (you can sort your emails, but voice mails, instant messages and text messages, and group those communications by users and shine a spotlight on those who are closest to a person). Closeness (social awareness) is determined by tapping into data not only from Yahoo, but also from social networks like LinkedIn, MySpace and WordPress.
Yahoo’s previous CEO, Mr. Yang, once showed how it would be possible to drag and drop e-mails onto other applications, some written by Yahoo, others by third parties, and by that doing something useful. He dragged an e-mail from co-founder David Filo suggesting dinner at a Las Vegas burger joint onto a Yahoo Maps icon, and up popped a map, highlighting the restaurant. Better yet, the software would be able to recommend a list of suitable restaurants, ranked from 1 to 5, for a dinner between a handful of your contacts based on their culinary preferences (and indicate if any of them are vegetarians). When the restaurant was selected, the restaurant could be dropped into an Evite icon, and an invitation to dinner would be automatically drafted and sent to others in the group.
Google released a speech recognition application for the iPhone this autumn. I found it not quite working, but still, I guess it going to be one of the huge search trends in the coming year. In the near by future you will be able to use a microphone to ask a question, or just say some keyphrases, and get a list back immediately.
The speech recognition included in Windows 7 and MacOS X 10.6 will of course be better.
Ebooks and Reading Pads
Newspapers and the book industry are both predicted by many to go in for a rough landing. Newspapers are already struggling with the advertisement moving to the net. In 2008 the owners of LA Times, Tribune Company, went bankrupt. And also Mecom, owners of Edda Media, have had a rough year. Rumors have constantly been going on Mecom trying to sell the Norwegian newspaper house Edda Media. Dagbladet has also been downsizing the last 2-3 years, and they have not succeeded so far on migrating from paper to net.
In 2008, according to The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 40% of the American population say they get most of their news about national and international issues from the Internet, up from just 24% in September 2007. For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the internet for news than cite newspapers (35%). Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news, at 70%. People will in the future in a bigger extent continue to subscribe to newspapers’ RSS feeds, and then the newspaperhouses will have even less income on advertisement. My guess is that their problems are only to get bigger, as devices capable of reading ePaper are getting cheaper.
Going from traditional paper to epaper also has an environmental side, both on the use of energy and co2 emissions. Reading the physical version of the NY Times for a year uses 7,300 MJ of energy and emits 700 kg of co2. Reading it on a Kindle uses 100 MJ of energy and emits 10 kg of co2. The Kindle therefore saves 6,500 MJ and 690 kg of co2 a year. The whole article can be read on the blog Fat Knowledge.
There are also services for reading newspapers online and offline with your computer. PressDisplay.com works both on MacOS X, Windows and Windows Mobile. This newsreader is also available for the ebook device iRex DR1000S. One of my favourite iPhone applications, is NYTimes for iPhone, and could be one of the ways people will read their preferred newspaper on the subways to their work in the mornings.
So what about the book industry? I have been using a Cybook for a year now, and I find the eBooks a perfect replacement for computer manuals and paperbacks. Also here, a change in how we decide to consume information/data will have a big impact on the environment. I can only hope that ePaper will not also take over for hardcover books.
In the beginning of next year, the first eBooks in Norwegian will be made available. I can’t wait to see the first book on my device. But the interesting thing will be how the industry decides to adopt to the changes. Will it be another round with DRM? Or will they understand that DRM isn’t consumer friendly? What fileformat will be the commonly used one, Mobipocket, ePub or PDF?
We will do even less business travels in 2009. I work with climate researchers and it has been funny to see the ones telling us that we need to fly less, are the ones traveling most. Well, I am proud to say that we are trying to do something about it! In 2008 we started looking on how important it would be to be at a conference in person, or could the message be delivered through a video conference.
What scares me here is that I have been through 10-12 different solutions this year, and there seems to be no common standard. Jabber/XMPP looks nice on the paper, but where are the usable clients? More or less all of them looks like *shit*. Sorry the language! The solution that has helped us most so far, has without doubt been the closed sourced Skype. The great thing with Skype is that it excists for more or less for every platform out there: Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Windows Mobile and Linux Embedded. I guess the magic word here is FREE and that is why Skype will continue to succeed. My hope for a future version of Skype is support for showing Powerpoint presentations next to the video conference. A strong competitor is Microsoft Communicator, and that is also closed sourced.
And NO, 2009 will not be the year of Linux. Just as 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 predicted to be the year where Linux finally break through, 2009 will not be the year either. I couldn’t resist!
MacOS X 10.6 will be released some time in the spring, and Windows 7 by the end of the year. And Linux, well they will still be catching up (read: copying functionality). I hope, as a Technet subscriber, to be able to start testing Windows 7 in the following weeks.
And as we are already laughing of Linux, let us include Blu-ray. I’ve heard many say that Blu-ray players were to be one of the hottest gifts for Christmas this year. That would indicate that 2009 might be the year of this HD format. My take, Blu-ray will only become an enthusiast format (videophile niche, never a mass market product).
As Robin Harris at ZDNet put it:
Delusional Sony exec Rick Clancy needs to put the crack pipe down and really look at the market dynamics.
In a nutshell: consumers drive the market and they don’t care about Blu-ray’s theoretical advantages. Especially during a world-wide recession. Remember Betamax? SACD? Minidisk? Laser Disk? DVD-Audio?
There are more losers than winners in consumer storage formats.
The technology is outdated, HD VOD (Video On Demand) is finally here and will gradually take over the market.