Technology predictions for 2008

As 2007 comes to a close, I thought it would be interesting to reveal some of my predictions of what will and won’t happen in the technology sector over the next 12 months. These are only predictions and my personal opinions, so please feel free to disagree with me!

What will happen

Huge surge in demand for online video: Following the launch of the BBC’s iPlayer service, I expect all the major UK channels to follow suit if they haven’t already, and to consider making their players Flash-based so as to work on any platform, albeit in a non-free format, as the pressure starts to build from people who aren’t using Internet Explorer in Windows XP.

Crunch time for Digital Rights Management: With so many companies abandoning DRM and offering their content without any built-in software restrictions, I think 2008 will represent crunch time for this much maligned technology. It might survive beyond the year, but unless there is a major development in this area (most likely some form of court case somehow coming down in favour of DRM) I expect DRM to be on its way out in twelve months.

Victory in the format war: Either Blu-ray or HD-DVD will emerge victorious in the format wars. It’s difficult to guess which one will be the eventual winner, as the VHS vs Betamax wars demonstrated that technical superiority doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. Blu-ray seemed to have more support last time I checked, but only by a small margin, and probably not enough to put it well ahead of HD-DVD (several Blu-ray supporters are also backing the other format anyway).

What won’t happen

Linux on the Desktop: Every year since 2000 has been hailed as ‘the year of Linux on the desktop’, and every year this hasn’t happened. Whilst I’m sure the likes of Ubuntu will continue to grow in popularity and ease of use, I don’t think Linux will take a significant proportion (say 10%) of the desktop market in 2008.

Super-fast broadband in the UK: We lag far behind America and most of the big European countries in terms of our broadband speeds over here, and I don’t think this will change in 2008, despite claims from some ISPs and cable companies. The old copper cables between our houses and the local exchanges are simply not up to the job, and BT doesn’t seem to have a commercial incentive to spend the millions of pounds required to upgrade them.

Predictions from other people

IBM Reveals Five Innovations that Will Change Our Lives Over the Next Five Years – can’t say I agree with most of these, other than the green technologies issue.

Economist: Technology in 2008 – I’m fairly at ease with most of these predictions, although they’re modifying existing situations (e.g. surfing will get slower) rather than anticipating any major new technologies (which is a perfectly valid viewpoint, albeit a bit boring).

JasonSlater.co.uk technology predictions for 2008 – I disagree with the ‘Year of the Zune’ suggestion, as I think Apple’s iPod is so ubiquitous and entrenched that it will take more than a shoddy MP3 player from Microsoft to change this dominant position. Home robots won’t be the next great thing either, at least not in my opinion.

Technologies on the rise in 2008 – Not entirely convinced by the IPTV prediction, mainly because it seems to be based on faster broadband speeds which, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t see happening in 2008. The VoIP prediction, however, I think is more realistic and something which I genuinely hope happens.

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