Technology Predictions for 2009

first of all, my last prediction-for-next-year was a little optimistic, as I was predicting what people in the echo chamber have since started calling ‘cloud computing…’ I predicted that we’d see a lot of online services that blur the lines between what is ‘local’ and what is an online ‘service.’  …let me just defer that prediction one year and add it to the heap of what I see coming this year.  At least give me credit for making it my major prediction before the catch-phrase ‘cloud computing’ came to the surface.

  1. Linux Will Come and Start Killing. Google Android, Ubuntu Mobile, Asus’ recent release of EEE PC’s running Linux, all point for me to the fact that Linux is finally coming to a device near you.  Of course, Linux never went away, but I’m talking about real OS Market share.  In addition, I wouldn’t be surprised if the coming popularity of Linux also dishes out a major hit to Microsft because I bet it’s easier to port software made for Linux to Mac OS X than it is to port it to Windows since OS X is built on Unix.  Just something to consider.  Also, if you haven’t been looking, take a look at Ubuntu.  It’s a pretty nice OS and will run on anything, maybe even your toaster.  And it’s free!
  2. AJaX Will Continue to Prevail as the Shiznit in Web Development (while Flash and others continue to die).  Because of the nature of touch-screen interfaces and because we will increasingly see the deployment of Navigation and Map-based services as well as virtual world type applications, where a scalable simulated 3-D space is used, I think AJaX is likely to continue to become the way things are done.  At this point, I’m starting to doubt the long term success of Flash, AIR, Silverlight because I think Javascript can do what these things do better.
  3. Affordable Smartphones. Maybe this is a no-brainer, but when I say affordable I mean $100 or less.  I’m not predicting at this time affordable connectivity for these devices. I know gadget enthusiast might hate me for saying this, but I think the Handset Race and the Netbook Race are very overlapped.  They are both fighting for certain causes together such as improvements to battery life, cheapening of Solid State storage, cheapening of Mobile Connectivity, The need for competition in the OS market and the need for “Thin” software, not to mention ‘Cloud’ services… 
  4. Ubiquity of Navigation Systems and/or GPS. From my understanding, cellular networks are already able to provide location info nearly as accurate as true GPS.  There’s no reason for the next wave of phones to not have on-board GPS capability or something similar that offers driving directions etc.
  5. Google Will Roll Out Geo-Targeted Advertising for Realz. Via GPS/Navigation devices probably, but even desktop search should see a shift in this way. Try searching for ‘pizza.’ You can see there’s big room for improvement there.
  6. Google Search to Shape Up or Start Shipping Out. Google may begin losing Search market-share in 2009 if they don’t play their cards right. Google’s Search Results haven’t changed noticeably since they started putting Wikipedia articles at the top of the stack a few years ago.  Personally, I think Google is intentionally not releasing major improvements to their results in order to avoid being an unofficial API for competing services. Again, search for ‘pizza.’ Then, add your postal code to the search. The funny thing is that Google already knows where you are, more or less, based on your IP address. Meanwhile, other search engines are actually better for many kinds of searches. Try Yahoo! for ‘pizza.’ Try Dogpile for finding an mp3. Google is capable of being better than these right now, in my opinion, but intentionally holding back, banking on the idea that their mindshare will carry them along until the next era, probably brought on by the ubiquity of GPS and Smartphones.  Even if Google loses a considerable amount of its Search traffic, it will continue to be the biggest hub of online metrics collection, as well as of course, online advertising, where Google makes all its money.  I don’t think Google is going anywhere any time soon.