2007: Looking Forward to a Year Filled with Change

The upcoming year promises to be an exciting, revitalizing one for
geeks like me. It’s going to involve a lot of change — more than ever
before, in fact. So things could get a bit confusing for the average
citizen.
But that’s what I’m here for. I’ll continue to try and make sense of
the technical mumbo jumbo in coming weeks and months. Speaking of
which, here are my predictions for what I expect to be writing about in
2007.

In quick summary, 2007 promises to reduce our dependence on traditional
forms of media like newspapers and radio. It threatens to kill email
(and that’s a good thing). 2007 will give big companies like Microsoft
and Sony a swift kick to their collective backside, taking these
corporate behemoths down a few notches. Next year portable power will
take a massive leap forward. Most excitingly, within the next 12 months
we’ll have a mobile device that perfectly merges personal and business
communication with entertainment and productivity.

This past year has seen the rise of a trend popularly known as "citizen journalism." In part, this has been about blogs, but it’s more than that. Citizen journalism is the online representation of the traditional town square where every day at dusk the locals would gather under the trees as the kids ran about and played. They’d sit on benches, lawn chairs, and the grass to gossip, tell stories, and generally share information.

In 2007 more people will go online for their news and information so they can also partake in the information society by sharing and engaging. Traditional media outlets that can get ahead of this curve will thrive. Those that cling to the old formats will have a hard time of it.

Happily for many people, email will begin a long, slow slide into irrelevancy next year. The infrastructure that supports email is one of the most archaic and poorly designed systems ever. The fact that up to 75% of email today is spam is testament to that fact. In the coming months we’ll see new systems emerge that will permit us to communicate online with a far greater degree of efficiency and security than email permits.

Two large companies, Microsoft and Sony, flubbed up big time in 2006. The list of their stumbles is too long to enumerate here, but suffice to say that 2007 will throw antiseptic on their cut and bleeding knees.

Sony will lose its place as the emperor of batteries in 2007. Until earlier this year they provided batteries for pretty much every laptop, including those from Apple, Dell, and HP. The much-publicized Summer of Exploding Laptops has pretty much ended this arrangement, however.

Already, Samsung has announced the design of a laptop battery with significantly more power and life than Sony’s; and a consortium of companies that suffered from Sony’s incompetence has promised more advanced, safer batteries by mid-year.

The upside of this tale is that by next autumn we’ll probably find new portable power technologies entering the market that will provide our mobile devices with significantly more operational longevity.
Due to a continuing string of grand product failures that began in 2006 and will continue for the next 6-8 months, Microsoft’s credibility and market value will suffer a hit in 2007.

In 2006 Microsoft demonstrated that it is incapable of launching new consumer products successfully. Their awful answer to the iPod, the Zune, well exemplifies this. From design to implementation to marketing, the Zune is a disaster. Another example is Microsoft Origami. Remember that device? I rest my case.

Other recent examples of some awful forays into potentially lucrative markets include Windows CE, Windows Mobile and the tablet PC. (It’s worth noting that the XBox system has been a wildly successful venture; too bad it’s not making any money for Microsoft.)

The new product woes promise to continue into 2007.

The company’s new Windows operating system, Vista, will be released next month. It will require that most people invest in a new computer to use it. Many analysts believe it’s not ready for public consumption, even after years of delay. It’s likely to cause early adopters headaches and lost productivity for at least the first six months.

Microsoft is clearly struggling to remain relevant at the close of 2006. That situation won’t change next year.

Finally, I’m looking for a breakthrough device in 2007 that will fit in my pocket and let me work, play, and communicate anywhere, anytime. Here’s a rough breakdown of what I expect to see in that gadget

First and foremost, the device will look cool and sexy. After all, that’s what a new gadget is all about.

It will have both cell and Wifi phone calling capabilities with built-in Skype. The device will have a basic gaming system and a hi-res digital camera. It will be able to play music, pictures and video. It will have instant messaging, SMS, and web access capabilities. It will be a truly wireless device with stereo Bluetooth for phone calls and audio playback.

Perhaps the coolest feature will be its large screen, which will cover the entire front of the device. It won’t have any physical keys; instead, the touch-screen display will change to present phone keys or a QWERTY keyboard for use as the situation demands.

There’s a good chance this device could come from Apple in late January as the much-touted "iPhone."
Palm is very close to my vision with their Treo family of smart phones, but that’s a company too busy fixating on Blackberry to really produce anything so revolutionary.

The most likely contender is Sony-Ericsson, a company that, in my opinion, makes the best cell phones on the market today. Some of their Walkman phones are very close to my above description. It’s frustrating that they’re only available in Europe.

2007 is certain to be a banner years for gadget freaks, computer geeks and information analysts. Hey, lucky me! I fit into all three of those categories. So one last prediction: look forward to some serious Geek Love in ’07.

Best wishes to everyone over the holiday season and remember to Geek Safe: no cell phones calls while driving and take regular gaming breaks.

One thought on “2007: Looking Forward to a Year Filled with Change

  1. was it really the, ‘Summer of Exploding Laptops??’ i’m no grassy-knoll-and-black-helicopters-guy, but i think there was something fishy about this whole saga. how many actual fires/smoke-outs did you hear/read about? and of those, how many were some idjit running his 3ghz dual-core on his lap….with his legs covered by a fuzzy blanket, or some other user error? and how many millions (billions?) of batteries did sony produce in the year(s) covered by all the recalls? i think the whole ‘panic’ can be blamed on The Media for blowing it out of proportion (or failing to put it into proportion/perspective) and The Public’s penchant for swallowing whatever The Media feeds it with little/no critical thinking.

    the manufacturers had an easy out – just blame sony. sony really had no choice but to issue the recalls – they couldn’t just say, ‘this problem affects 0.01% of the batteries we’ve made – get over it.’ it would have been more harmful to the company to give it to ’em straight, than to do what amounts to pulling the plug on their battery manufacturing business.

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