2008 Tech Anti-Predictions : Things You Won’t See This Year

First entry of 2008! Last week I saw a crap load of technology predictions for 2008. Most just parroted the same wishful thinking we’ve been hearing all last year. In short, there’s a lot I disagree with. That inspired me to make my own list; things that we’re supposed to see but won’t. So, I give you Matt’s list of 2008 anti-predictions (in no particular order):

1. An end to the HD format wars.

Everyone loves a good conflict. And what better for tech geeks when all the big companies take sides in a war only customers will win. However, no one seems to acknowledge the third party in this conflict… BROADBAND!HD Discs will eventually suffer the same fate as their ancestor, the Laser Disc. Waiting for plastic to come in the mail (or worse, going to the store for it), may be acceptable to baby boomers and aging gen-x’ers who like to think they own something. But it just isn’t appealing to younger generations who gain more buying power every year.

2. Wii games for the “serious gamer”.

The “serious gaming” community just refuses to listen to Nintendo’s message, “YOU ARE NOT PROFITABLE”. When the Wii was announced Nintendo made a very important point, the “serious gamers” account for about 20% of the potential video game market. Let us not forget that in its heyday Atari was worth more than PS3 andXBox today, combined. The reason for this is that everyone could play an Atari game, the old arcades used to fill with guys in suits after work. It did not require hours of dedication or hundreds of dollars, and as a result people dedicated hours to it and spent hundreds of dollars. Nintendo understands this and is making a fortune by it.

3. Increased use of social networks.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that social networks are going to hit a brick wall. Not from lack of popularity, rather lack of time and desire to maintain them. The real problem is that all of these sites are run by for-profit companies. I have no problem with for-profit companies, however they have every financial incentive to lock in whatever data you give them and never let go. This means that my Facebook friends have no connection to my LinkedIn contacts and someone is always yelling at me for not checking my MySpace page. Maintaining Facebook alone can eat up hours a week. I call that work. Add several of those sites and I have a second job, for which I earn no money. I call that slavery. We are slaves to our social networks. I suspect that this year the novelty of these sites will drop off quite a bit, only to be replaced with real work as more and more core users graduate.

4. Explosion of ebooks.

The supposed high demand for the Amazon Kindle would sure lead one to think there will be an explosion of ebook sales in 2008. I’ve already expressed my skepticism toward the e-reader platform in more detail in a previous post. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the future of books is audio books. Products like the iPhone make it very easy to buy an audio book on the go without the need for an extra device. Theebooks however provide only a more expensive way to do something you’re doing quite effortlessly already.

5. Semantic search.

This is another case of wishful thinking. The kind of semantic search technology that would actually be useful simply doesn’t exist, nor will it this decade, maybe next decade. There simply is no advantage to writing “What is the date of the next concert for insertbandnamehere” over “insertbandnamehere concert schedule”. A useful semantic search would be something more like “what was on the small sign I saw on the side of the road while driving down rt. 1? It was red and white and had some sort of logo on the bottom that looked like a bird”. Oh, and speech recognition will have to be perfected as well because no one is going to type all of that. Context sensitive search may however see some growth. There is definitely some usefulness in being able to ask my phone where the best pizza is near me. The holy grail being that Joe’s Pizza can advertise for a small fee and that small fee gives me cheap-to-free phone service. However none of this will happen this year because the pda/gps phone is still too expensive to become ubiquitous.

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