Looking back at 2008 predictions

Around this time last year, I made some technology predictions for 2008. You can read the full details in the original post, but I have summarised how true (or false!) the predictions turned out to be here.

What will happen

Huge surge in demand for online video: The BBC’s iPlayer service has already been causing consternation amongst ISPs who complain that the popularity of the service is increasing the demands for bandwidth from customers. From the statistics I’ve seen, iPlayer is still small fry compared with general file sharing, but that could all change in the next twelve months as more and more content becomes available through the major media players.

I also predicted that other channels would follow the BBC’s lead in providing online access to at least part of their programming schedule. This hasn’t happened yet, mainly due to the endless bickering over Project Kangaroo and whether it impedes competition or not. With the credit crunch taking a particularly heavy toll on media companies, we may well see Channel 4 pull out altogether in order to save costs.

Crunch time for Digital Rights Management: I predicted that DRM would face a backlash and be on its way out by the end of 2008. Unfortunately this hasn’t happened, though there have been some positive moves in this area.

Victory in the format war: The format war ended in February this year, with victory for Blu-ray after Toshiba dropped its support for HD-DVD. I didn’t call for either side in my prediction, though Blu-ray did appear to have slightly more support to begin with. I still expect it to be some time before Blu-ray overtakes the current DVD format, partly because many people already have large DVD collections and also because of the cost of Blu-ray players has yet to come down to a sensible value. Combined with the credit crunch, which is affecting the sales of electronic devices, I suspect it will be several years before Blu-ray overtakes DVD as the standard format for releasing films. Finally, the last VHS manufacturer has only just stopped creating tapes, so DVDs may well be around for a similar length of time.

What won’t happen

Linux on the Desktop: As I predicted, Linux still hasn’t captured a significant (which I rather arbitrarily defined as 10%) proportion of the desktop market. However, Ubuntu and Fedora have both made huge strides towards making Linux a platform which is accessible to everyone, so perhaps we’ll see more people switching in 2009.

Super-fast broadband in the UK: The argument is still raging in the UK about whether we should have fibre to the home and who should pick up the tab for installing it. BT is understandably concerned about making a return on its investment if it has to build the infrastructure and then be forced to share it with competitors at small profit margins, and Virgin Media is only likely to install fibre in areas with dense populations where it can sign up sufficient subscribers to recoup its costs. For the moment, it looks like the UK will remain a first world country with second rate access to the Internet, lagging far behind our competitors across both the Channel and the Atlantic.

That just about wraps it up for 2008—I’ll be posting predictions for 2009 in the next couple of days.

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