It takes a brave soul to sit in front of a room of people and predict the future. Wednesday’s Media Predicts: 2012 event sponsored by the PRSA Silicon Valley gathered a constellation of stars in tech reporting to find out what Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others may have in store for the masses next year.
The panelists making their predictions included:
- Jon Fortt, tech correspondent for CNBC and the official
cat herderevent moderator for the evening
- Nick Bilton, columnist and lead writer for The New York Times Bits blog
- Harry McCracken, columnist for Technologizer, CNET and Time.com
- Greg Kumparak, mobile editor for TechCrunch
- John Gallant, chief content officer and senior vice president of IDG Enterprise
- Audrey Watters, blogger for ReadWriteWeb, O’Reilly Radar, and KQED’s Mindshift
- James Temple, tech columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle
- Emily Chang, host of Bloomberg West
Here’s a quick rundown of predictions from most of the panelists, broken into categories.
- Meg Whitman faces a tough decision regarding WebOS (now expected in less than two weeks).
- Unfortunately, few panelists had any conviction that Whitman was the leader to deliver a stellar product that captured the imagination of consumers.
- Female executives at IBM, Xerox, and other large tech firms are coming into their own. 2012 may prove to be the year that their gender is no longer the news hook.
- Bill Gates may have to step back into the company. Windows 8 is a radical departure from previous versions of the Microsoft operating system and needs a better leader, though several panelists thought Gates would never return.
- An ecosystem of devices will form to remember who we are, and save our preferences.
- A new category of devices may appear that uses sensors everywhere.
- Panelists were split on whether an Apple television would make an appearance in 2012.
- Tablets with Windows 7 will be a huge competitor to Apple.
- We will see an Amazon phone.
- The Kindle Fire will be popular — maybe more so than the iPad — because of the price.
- However, if Microsoft succeeds at positioning Windows 8 as an OS for computers and tablets, Apple will become the number-one computer manufacturer in the world, topping HP, when iPads are counted in the stats.
- 2012 will be the year of voice. Apple’s Siri will lead the way while Google will push more aggressively into voice space.
- Siri comes to the iPad.
- Windows phone will take a distant third to Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS in mobile operating systems.
- Android will “come apart at the seams” in 2012. (The Carrier IQ tracking scandal may be evidence of that now.) “Android is a mess” and companies such as Amazon are going to fragment development further.
- Android won’t be the only vulnerable mobile operating system. Apple’s iOS will be hacked.
- Google’s Chrome OS will die.
- Juniper Networks will be acquired.
- Apple will buy a small enterprise company.
- Oracle will buy HP.
- More foreign companies will buy US-based companies.
Companies to Watch:
- Apple, Amazon.com, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft — as usual — probably in that order.
- Square and Zynga will experience major re-evaluations in the market.
- Nintendo will explode (in a good way).
- Companies who felt pressured to integrate Facebook and Twitter will start feeling the repercussions of tying their fortunes to the social networks.
- And there didn’t seem to be a panelist who wasn’t severely impressed with the learning thermostat Nest. The company and product seemed to represent a compilation of several predictions, including:
- an Internet of things,
- the spillover of Apple’s design philosophy (how the product works, not just how it looks) into new industries hitherto deprived of elegance,
- predictive software, and
- green technologies that actually matter to consumers.
What are your thoughts on these predictions? Any predictions of your own? Sound off in the comments or feel free to contact me via email or Twitter.