It’s the start of the new year, so what better time to take stock of the past 12 months and then try and forecast what’s going to be big over the next year. 2011 was the year that people first looked beyond Apple‘s iPad for their tablet desires, where Android finally caught up to iOS, and where Microsoft paid Nokia a cool billion dollars to get a foothold in the mobile space. So what will 2012 hold for the technology and gadget hungry amongst us? Here’s my top5:
5. Apple Falters
After the passing of founder Steve Jobs, Apple no longer has a visionary to lead them from the front. Current CEO Tim Cook may be amazing at getting the production line efficient and driving profits, but he does not look to be one to lead the technology industry. Apple may have sold a bucket load of iPhone 4Ss, but it was only a minor update and its major selling point, Siri, barely functions outside of the US – a British accent is too difficult apparently and it doesn’t even bother with the tech leaders South Korea.
2012 will see the iPhone 5, the iPad 3, and likely a proper Apple TV – but I just don’t see Apple doing anything revolutionary. Apple TV is being heralded as a revolution for TV, but the way Apple plans obsolescence for its current line of consumer electronics every 12 months, I don’t see consumers forking out £800+ for an Apple TV for two years’ use. The halo has already started to dim.
4. RIM/BlackBerry Effectively Disappears
BlackBerry/RIM has had a torrid 2011 with their phones and network under-performing on numerous occasions, and then their entry into the tablet market, the PlayBook, ships without an email client and is not bought by anyone (see £169 PlayBook firesale). BlackBerry offered email to users before the iPhone or Android phones came into their own, but they all outperform their BlackBerry counterparts in almost every respect these days. With Windows 8 being released in 2012 – there is little room for four operating systems at the top, and BlackBerry are the likeliest to feel the crunch before their latest OS, BBX, even ships.
3. Cybercrime Invades The Real World
Most of the cybercrime stories of 2011 were surrounding hacktivism and groups such as LulzSec that managed to break into the supposedly secure databases and take-down the websites of major corporations and government bodies. There will likely be more of this in 2012, but it was Stuxnet that was the real harbinger of what to come. Stuxnet was a hand-tailored attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure likely coming from Israel or the US, but they will be coming from across the globe next year. China has already shown itself to be quite capable of hacking the email accounts of millions of people and into various government agencies to steal data – but 2012 will be the year of real cyber warfare. And this warfare will not just be for thieving of information, but for taking down targets from banks to energy grids as the world gets increasingly connected and security experts try to catch up with human nature.
2. TV Gets Smarter And Embraces Connectivity
More and more people are already watching television via on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer, 4OD, and Hulu – but 2012 will see more and more people using these services on their TV. Apple will produce a TV that is beautiful and easy to use but will be priced out of most people’s hands, whilst Google TV and Boxee will appear on more sets. In the UK, however, the industry will be pushed by the release of YouView (previously Project Canvas), that will see all the main broadcasters have content available through a single on-demand channel for set-top boxes and connected TVs and everyone will join the on-demand revolution.
1. Tablet/Netbook Hybrids
We have seen the growth of the UltraBook market in 2011, with Intel producing chips made especially for slimline devices that are basically copying the MacBook Air, and the tablet market has exploded. But 2012 will see people turn to buying tablet/netbook hybrids so they can have the best of both portable worlds. The ASUS transformer is the only real version of this type of device available today, but later this month will see them release the ASUS Transformer Prime that will push the power of the device to quad-core. Such power on a power-sipping ARM CPU will mean long battery life, the productivity of a laptop, and the entertainment/sharing of a tablet.