Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year, New Tech - Happy 2008 Everyone

It's a new year, and it promises to be even a faster path of acceleration for the Rocket than 2007. We're already looking at wafer thin OLED technology from Sony, rumors of touch screen Apple laptop/tablet computers, mesh networks of XBox360's and - of course - a bazillion new cell phones.

Here's the Rocket predictions for '08 - let's see how they hold through the year - in no particular order:

  • The end of the RIAA Reign of Terror.
    They jumped the shark a while back, of course, but the final straw probably came a few weeks ago in December when the RIAA went after a private citizen for ripping his own, legally purchased CDs to his hard disk without any intent or means to share the resulting files. Combined with weird crap like writing its own new stories for local TV stations, the RIAA has probably finally garnered the illusive "what the fuck?" factor from Congress.

    ...which leads us to...

  • Massive adoption of non-DRM'ed digital music from the recording industry.
    OK, this one has a huge "Duh!" factor on it, but I'm throwing it in here to get an easy prediction in. With iTunes, Zune Marketplace, Amazon MP3, Yahoo, and eMusic all moving their inventory as quick as possible to high quality, non-DRM crippled MP3 files - plus the number of music groups (yay, RadioHead) eschewing record labels in search of new business models - the message is clear: crippling the use of your product for your own consumer base is a really shitty business model.

  • The age of digital books begins in ernest.
    OK, maybe two easy predictions. Yeah, it's ugly. Yeah, its got production problems. Yeah, its nowhere near as slick as the Sony eReader. Amazon, however, is absolutely on to something with the Kindle. Having a digital book that gets its contact magically from the ether is the missing link. Amazon is big enough to convince more and more publishers (and, independent authors) to leave the paper on the trees and provide its content directly to the consumer, whenever they want it. Reading long format, non-web based content is suddenly hip again.

  • Fold-up, roll-up displays.
    They've been predicted since 2001: A Space Oddysey came out in 1968, but with the advent of OLED tech in the past few years - culminating the sale of Sony's amazing (and amazingly tiny/expensive) paper-thin OLED TV, the dawn of truly portable computing may be arriving in 2008. Look for the first OLED screens to be mated with newer, larger solid-state drive technology. Sony is in the best position to put out these devices, lets see if they have enough cash and cache to get the job done.

  • GPS enabled, well, everything really.
    Cars, cameras, IM clients, laptops, wallets, dogs, briefcases, kids, watches, and condoms. Whether that is a good thing or not, I have my doubts. I was more than a little annoyed the other day when I realized Twibbler (a Symbian Twitter client) was accessing the GPS chip on my Nokia and broadcasting my exact position. Hmmm... not sure I want this kindofa world, but its coming regardless.

  • The mainstream emergence of "new media."
    Declining viewership for live network television will accelerate. The onslaught faced by the major networks from cable, time-shifting technologies, durect purchases from sources like iTunes and Amazon Unbox will be accelerated by lack of original content from the ongoing writer's strike. The end result is that more and more people will turn to video podcasts and user generated content as a source of entertainment. So - all you video podcasters out there with just a touch of production value better find a lawyer or two, because Hollywood is gonna go shoppin' for new property.

  • Verizon will pick up the 700Mhz spectrum.
    I cannot believe I am saying this - and I wouldn't be saying this if it wasn't for Verizon's sudden reversal of its "Walled Garden Uber Alles" mentality in December. Google will be putting out the greenbacks for the 700MHz spectrum as they announced, but Verizon will outbid in order to keep them from stepping into their world.

  • Porn and Wal-Mart don't matter!
    Well, ok...they matter...just, uh, not in the high-definition disk format wars. Despite the porn industry and Wal-Mart throwing their muscle into the HD-DVD camp in 2007, the outlook for the HD-DVD/BluRay war will remain murky through 2008 and well into 2009. The last time porn got involved in a format war, there was no internet as we know it - so, uh, connoisseurs didn't have the luxury of downloading stay-at-home-action, now they do. As for Wal-Mart, rumor mill says that now that BluRay player prices are dropping down to the levels of HD-DVD player prices, Wal-Mart may reverse its HD-DVD only stance. It's gonna be a long, cold stalemate.
CES is next week, and the Rocket will be there, of course. Getting a glimpse into the crystal ball for this year is a way to cheat on the Jan 1 predictions, but - eh - I'm not above that kind of fake prognostication. So, more "predicitions" next week.

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