Futurology is easy. Take current trends and amplify them. The trick, of course, is to select the right trends, and to estimate the rate at which they will evolve. Here are my predictions for next years… most will take several years to happen.
- Microsoft will start to embrace and extend and extinguish Linux, starting with Suse. However, somewhere along the way it will discover that Linux can be very profitable, and it will start a new business strategy based on exploiting its grip over interoperability. Eventually (but this will take another decade or so), it will abandon the Windows OS per-se and migrate its customers to a kind of bizarre Linux-Windows hybrid where the legacy Windows code can safely hide for another decade.
- The OLPC project will be a great success, despite the many criticisms of giving PCs to people who "can't even feed themselves". The sudden availability of cheap computers across Africa and Asia will spawn a revolution in communications, merging mobile phone networks with ad-hoc wireless networks. The "silicon revolution" will take another decade to bear fruit, but will eventually become the most significant wealth creator in much of the world. Today, Africa's mobile industry is already more sophisticated than Europe's. Just wait another ten years.
- The consumer electronics industry will fragment into two types of firms: those that make products, and those that license patents. These two groups will get into such a battle that it will bring the whole patent industry into question.
- Mobile phone/MP3 players with stereo bluetooth headsets and 4GB+ capacity will become hot items in 2007.
- Apple will bring out a mp3/phone with stereo bluetooth headset and 4GB+ capacity in 2007.
- Mobile phone operators will start to deliver running video ads on mobile phones, and offer consumers free handsets in return.
- DRM will die and be replaced by a global blanket license for content sharing. Music and movie piracy will end.
- Microsoft will lobby policymakers for a blanket license for software sharing. Policymakers will laugh heartily.
- By 2008, the cost of flash memory will fall to under $4 per gig, and the capacity of common USB sticks will rise to 32 gig. I will finally be able to put my entire music collection onto a single USB stick.
- The future of home entertainment is a projector/DVD player/web/wifi combo that can download and play TV news and episodes off the web and "recharge" mobile devices with new episodes.
- Downloadable TV episodes will be one of the major forms of entertainment, mainly because they are highly addictive.
- Future generations won't know what a "TV" is, but they'll still use the name.
- The MS-Word vs. OpenOffice debate will slip into irrelevance as more and more people discover wikis, not to mention wikidot.com.
Happy holidays! :-)