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Now is an incredibly exciting time to be in technology, and it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon of the next big thing as soon as it’s announced; but how much of these truly change the face of computing?
I’d like to think that after being immersed daily in the technology industry for years now, I can tell when a trend has begun and generally how things are likely to pan out – so these are my personal predictions for Windows, tablets PCs, mobiles, gaming – over the course of the next few years.
I’m not a psychic though, so know that these predictions are entirely my own opinion based upon my observations.
Windows 8 Tablets and the Metro UI Will Flop
After a burst of initial interest from early-adopter consumers and a plethora of windows 8 based tablets, the Metro interface will be forgotten and Windows 8 tablets will be a flop.
Consumers will be far more interested in iPads and the Kindle Fire. Without consumer confidence, the developers just won’t make the apps and the entire Metro UI will fizzle out.
As desktop OS, the upgrade to Windows 8 will be inevitable – but for the speed increases rather than specifically for the Metro interface. Just as OSX’s frontrow was eventually abandoned, and the original Vista desktop widgets are all but forgotten, so will be the way of the Metro interface. Without a solid user base on the tablet side to familiarize users, they won’t even consider it for the desktop.
Android Tablets Market Share falls further, but Amazon Kindle Fire thrives
I already wrote last week about why the iPad continues to dominate the tablet market, and at some point the majority of Android tablet manufacturers will just get out of the game altogether, leaving a few key players and a dedicated user base.
iOS5 with it’s free rich-media messaging (iMessage app) is going to be a big factor here – it may not be particularly unique and it certainly isn’t innovative (Blackberry has had free private messaging for ages) – but it does tie together the phone and tablet and integrates it into core functionality.
Amongst all this, the Kindle Fire will thrive, with the Android app store and Amazon’s media offerings backing it up. With custom branding though, it does nothing to aid the Android ecosystem as a whole – most users won’t even know it’s actually running Android. This steals a large portion of the market as a whole away from ‘officially’ branded Android tablets.
Long term equal share for iOS and Android in smartphones
In the short-term, I believe the release of the iPhone 4S and subsequent price drops of the 3GS and iPhone 4 will give Apple a significant boost of the overall phone market – especially with some providers offering a free 3GS to new contracts; but in the longer term Android handsets will regain their momentum, leaving a overall equal share for both iOS and Android in the smart phone market as a whole.
What about Siri? I’m in two minds about that, and until I’ve had a chance to play with it myself I think I’ll reserve judgement. Android already has a native speech input SDK and voice search, but it remains to be seen if this whole voice control thing is simply a fad, or truly the next revolution in mobile technology.
The losers? Blackberry, of course; and Windows-based handsets will continue to be the butt of tech jokes. The share of non-smartphones will continue to decrease – but that’s not so much an opinionated prediction as just a natural progression of technology. To be specific – I may finally see my dad with an iPhone instead of an old Nokia brick (if only because I’ll break it on purpose).
Nintendo Announces Disappointing Wii U Sales, Followed By A Move To Software Only
A while back I took a pretty critical view of the Wii U, and I stand by it. Hardcore Wii gamers will upgrade for the HD graphics but be relatively nonplussed by the controller, while home users will have trouble justifying the new screen-on-a-controller feature and couldn’t care less about HD graphics. The Wii sold because it was incredibly innovative at the time, and opened casual console gaming to whole family. I simply don’t think HD graphics or a tacky new controller is going to do it for the current user base though, especially not if Microsoft can continue to pull 5-star family games out of it’s magical Kinect hat.
The next dashboard update for Xbox360 is going to make it an even more compelling home-entertainment system with services from various online streaming services and live TV (even in the UK with LoveFilm and the BBC), so I firmly believe that with further price cuts the Xbox becomes a far more attractive choice for families looking to replace their current generation Wii. As soon as the Wii U is released, Microsoft will attempt to drown the excitement by announcing the Xbox720.
Where is Sony in all this? Who knows! The PlayStation 3 still has a long life ahead of it yet, so I doubt they’ll be any new announcement or innovations from them. Business as usual – assuming their customers haven’t left in disgust from having their personal details leaked on numerous occasions.
Dedicated portable console gaming hardware will disappear. After failing to excite the world with gimmicky 3D on the DS, it’s clear that consumers would much rather play affordable games on their mobile phones and tablets; the idea of purchasing a $50 cartridge game just doesn’t work anymore.
So after an initial excitement for the Wii U, I predict the sales simply won’t be there, and by late 2013 – Nintendo will capitulate to the whim of its shareholders by committing to produce only software.
Thanks for reading this far. You’re absolutely welcome to disagree, so I’d encourage you to post your own counter-predictions in the comments, along with why you think that way. Let’s leave the name calling and insults out of the comments though, at least until next year when I’ll be happy to write a follow-up so we can all look back and laugh at my madness!
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