Always one of the brightest events of the New Year – with considerable significance for the ICT industry – is the annual panel session of noted bloggers giving technical, commercial and social predictions for the year ahead.
Organised by ICT professionals’ networking organisation Unlimited Potential, in Wellington, the event attracted a distinguished audience (well, some of them) from public and private sectors, hanging on every word for an indication of what to expect and what to do in these economically straitened times.
Philip Fierlinger, design chief at Xero, who also runs his own consultancy, predicts a rise in “augmented reality applications”, such as Starfinder, a location-sensitive device that tells you what group of stars it’s being pointed at. The iPhone will acquire wireless synching and a high-resolution camera with autofocus and video, he predicts.
Pay TV services will begin to fail in the face of competition from online video and Google will buy Twitter. On the economic front, the New Zealand dollar will plunge to near 40 cents US and the pound sterling will crash to the point where the UK adopts the Euro, Fierlinger foresees.
Constraints on spending will lead individuals and companies to buy more open-source applications, predicts Brenda Wallace, who runs a blog at www.coffee.geek.nz. Sentiment will move against the overworked computing “cloud” metaphor, with practicality found in small private networks, more suited to the needs of developing countries, she says. An “anti-cloud” movement, recently promoted by Oracle’s Larry Ellison, will gather strength.
The PDA will disappear, submerged by the growing capabilities of the iPhone and similar devices, Wallace says, and the e-book will finally come into its own.
GeekZone’s Mauricio Freitas predicts at least one major New Zealand newspaper will die in 2009 under the onslaught of online news. Already, he points out there have been no offers to buy Tony O’Reilly’s stake in APN.
The semantic web will begin to become a reality, with the rise of context-aware web applications and the harnessing of collective intelligence online, says Freitas.
Windows 7 will be the big winner (not, as some thought they heard, “big wiener”) that Vista failed to be, he predicts, while Linux will erode Apple’s market share. The third cellphone network long promised by NZ Communications, formerly Econet, will once again not arrive in 2009.
Miraz Jordan, author and promoter of plain-language writing for the web, predicts compulsory licences will be introduced to ensure no-one is allowed onto the internet without basic training. She foresees the invention of the eSat: a social networking gadget based around FaceBook and Twitter.
Most controversially, Jordan predicts that ICT minister Steven Joyce will be found to have breached Section 92a of the Copyright Act and the resulting furore will bring Parliament to a halt.
Based on the volume of applause from the audience, Brenda Wallace was awarded the coveted plastic tiara as the year’s best prognosticator.