Coming off the Fast Horse social media predictions for 2012, I asked several ponies to gaze into the murky crystal ball and predict what the future will hold for technology. While the responses were all over the board, the overwhelming theme is user experience. Whether it’s the experience of physically using technology or the ease/difficulty of navigating services offered – 2012 is sure to be all about you.
This may not surprise you. Each year new technology promises to simplify your life, integrate functions and improve utility — but it seems there is always something more to add into the mix. The predictions below seem to set up 2012 as the year that technology continues to evolve and benefit the user, but still falls short of meeting all of our expectations. (Especially, for Mike.)
Streaming Television Stirs the Pot
George Fiddler: From its new tiered subscription plans, to announcing Qwikster and abandoning it shortly thereafter, Netflix clearly made a few blunders in 2011. My prediction is that many subscribers who fled the video streaming service this year will flock back to it in 2012 as the company asserts itself as the leader in a major shift in original programming. Having invested millions to secure exclusive deals for David Fincher’s “House of Cards” and the return of “Arrested Development” – not to mention a possible new Dave Chappelle project – Netflix showed it’s serious about owning premium content. Hulu and YouTube (with Facebook soon to follow?) have signed exclusive deals of their own, for a documentary series and niche channels, respectively, all of which looks to shake up the world of traditional cable and force the networks to incorporate more of a social viewing experience in a hurry to keep up with the web players.
The Amazing Race – For Music
Alex Weaver: 2011 has been a big year for audiophiles with Spotify expanding service to the United States, the release of Google music and many other music services providing users with a catalogue of tunes at their fingertips. I predict that 2012 will be the year of competition for the pocket change of music subscribers. Each service will race to differentiate from the pack – already seen this year with Spotify opening its app platform to developers and music blog favorite, Daytrotter enabling a content paywall. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google music finds more legs in the upcoming year or Apple opens up a paid music-streaming service. Personally, I hope that a cross between Pandora, Spotify and iTunes becomes available – and if it is, please let me know – because the ability to discover, stream and purchase music within one platform would make my year.
Dear Abby, for Cell Phones
Amanda Mark: The battle between mobiles-can-do-everything and don’t-use-your-mobile-in-public will hit an all-time frenzy in 2012. Batteries and operating systems have improved so mobiles can used in almost every way as a laptop, apps have reorganized how we conduct our lives and 4G networks ensure we can consume all of the media we want, whenever we want. At the same time, most places of business ask you to not use your phone, the NTSB is trying to ban any phone use while driving and the etiquette police have agreed that NO ONE should use your phone when out with friends. I think this will blow up like road rage a few years back: Horrific episodes in public where strangers will go ballistic on one another.
P.S. While I’m guilty of playing angry birds and fruit ninja while waiting in long lines in public, I’m completely on board with the NTSB.
Apple Expands to Television
Andrew Miller: So-called ‘smart TVs’ have been around now for a few years, but none of the major manufacturers have mastered the experience. That could change in 2012 if Apple rolls out its much-rumored television, as mentioned in Steve Jobs’ biography and on Apple fanboy blogs. No company has demonstrated a better understanding of the modern media consumer, so I expect the iTV – that’s what it has to go by, right? – will seamlessly integrate web browsing, social media, iTunes, FaceTime and more. Better yet – iTV will be accessible from mobile Apple devices. This should also be known as the moment the desktop computer died.
Bozo – The Juggling Technology Clown
Mike Keliher: Am just a cynical bastard if the best prediction I can come up with for the broad category of “technology in 2012” is a guess at what I believe won’t happen? I can say with quite a comfortable level of confidence that 2012 will not be the year in which avid online communicators are greeted with a solution to their platform-juggling pains. We all face at least another year of using:
- Google Talk, Facebook Messenger, Skype, AIM and maybe Live Messenger to chat with the two friends who use each one because no one has developed a good way to kick down the walls between them
- Facebook and Google+ and Twitter for sharing and interacting with friends online because they all have their strengths and their weaknesses and they’re battling to the death to keep you from bailing completely for one of the others (actually Google+ seems to not be battling for much of anything, content to just wait until Facebook blows itself up)
- Flickr and Picasa and SmugMug for sharing photos because other people actually use Flickr, but Picasa is integrated with all of the other Google tools you use, but SmugMug actually offers the features photographers care about
- YouTube and Vimeo and Facebook for sharing videos because if it’s not on YouTube it didn’t happen, but Vimeo is actually enjoyable and doesn’t induce seizures, but Facebook is where people you’ve actually met might actually see your stuff
- Anything made by Zynga and LinkedIn for mindlessly wasting time because Zynga has mastered the development of mindless time-wasting games and you can’t help but feel that someday, maybe when you need a job, LinkedIn will actually be useful