As we slowly bid adieu to 2007, I'm looking forward to 2008 and what will welcome us in the new year. And while none of us actually know what to expect, the future looks bright for this industry.
Think about it: who would have thought that Facebook would become such a powerhouse, the iPhone would take the world by storm and Dell would have dropped so significantly in just one year?
But in the fast-paced world of technology, we've learned that just about anything can happen and the leaders of today may not necessarily be the leaders of tomorrow. After all, is there any guarantee that Microsoft will still hold on to its dominating position or the iPod will still be the top dog in the PMP business? Not a chance.
But as I look forward to 2008, I truly believe there are some things we can accurately predict for next year. Whether it's the diminished popularity of the Wii or Google's meteoric rise in the cell phone business, the future looks bright and we should get ready to enjoy the ride.
2008 Prediction 1: The Wii falls flat on its face
Time to fire up the Link suits and the plumber outfits, someone said the Wii is going to fall flat on its face in 2008.
Look, I'll be the first to say that some games (Wii Sports and Mario Party 8) are fun to play with a group of people and Super Mario Galaxy is a somewhat fun single player experience, but where are the rest of the games? Sure, the Wii is popular today, but it looks much more like the fabled Furby of 1998 than a gaming platform that will have longevity.
As I've said here before, video game sales dictate the winners and losers in this industry and as far as I can tell, the Wii is lacking on this front. If you were to take an objective look at the upcoming release calendar for all three consoles, chances are you won't say the Wii has the strongest lineup. Sure, it has Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but where are the games that people can play alone on multiple occasions?
Say what you will, but the Wii's demand will fade and people will be left wondering where all the exciting games are. Suffice it to say, this thing will forever be known as the fad of 2007.
Prediction 2: The death of DRM
For a while, I never thought I would be able to say this, but it looks like DRM may finally die in 2008. Sound too good to be true? Think again: now that Warner has agreed to head on over to Amazon's DRM-free service, only Sony BMG is left wearing the dunce cap. And once that giant falls, the entire music industry will have finally fallen with it.
Now, DRM goes far beyond music and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes sure of that, but now that one of its biggest proponents -- the music industry -- has finally given in to a DRM-free service, how long will it take before other industries follow suit?
Sadly, some companies don't realize that DRM is not good business. Worse, none of these companies realize that circumventing DRM has become about as easy as beating up on Vista. In 2008, companies will realize that DRM only hurts the bottom line and it would behoove them to do away with it and hope for the best. Luckily for them, this strategy will work.
Prediction 3: Google takes the cell phone industry by storm
When Google enters its bid at the 700MHz spectrum auction, the future of the cell phone industry will never be the same. Once it wins, the company will initiate an effort to install the infrastructure necessary to create a nationwide Wi-Fi service. During this construction phase, Google will release Android to the world and whether you believe in it or not, it'll place an indelible mark on the entire business.
Google's Android platform will single-handedly propel the cell phone industry forward and give the iPhone a run for its money. After all, if anyone can create a platform that could rival the immense success of the iPhone, wouldn't it be Google?
But alas, the future of the cell phone industry revolves around a partnership with Google and Apple that will probably be formed in 2008, but announced years later. Android won't necessarily act as the competitor to the iPhone, but if both companies have their way, they will lead this industry going into 2009.
And if you ask me, that will probably happen.
Prediction 4: The Rise of IPTV
Sure, this may be a bit of a cop-out given the success of IPTV networks such as Revision3 and ChannelFlip, but if nothing else, we've found that this new form of entertainment is finally coaxing advertisers on to the service, which means success.
Let's face it, when podcasting and IPTV networks first started, no one outside of this business actually believed they would go anywhere. In fact, if you look at most shows, there was very little advertising money to go around and most got out of it because they were losing money. But by creating worthwhile programming, major companies finally took notice and the money started flowing in. And as the money started flowing in, these shows became far more popular. Knowing all this, why would we think that 2008 won't usher in even more advertisers and even better programming?
We're on the precipice of something great with podcasting and IPTV.
Prediction 5: Apple gains significant OS market share
Whether you're an Apple fanboy or just another Microsoft apologist, the writing is on the wall -- 2008 will be the year of the Mac.
Don't believe me? Consider this: Leopard is the fastest growing Apple OS in recent memory, Macs are flying off shelves at an unprecedented rate and Apple's stock price continues to soar as everyone from the business-savvy executive to the artsy loner finds a reason to buy a Mac.
Compare that to the slow adoption rates of Vista and the general feeling that Windows is, well, outdated and derivative, and a perfect storm may be developing in the industry.
Say what you will, but Apple may take a significant chunk of this market before you know it.
So there you have it, my predictions for 2008. Sound unbelievable? Sound spot on? Let's look back a year from now to see what really happens.