Let’s start by getting all the easy straight-line projections and known facts out of the way.
- Tablets and smartphones will continue to gather momentum, PCs will decline in importance.
- New Zealand’s mobile carriers will press forward on plans for 4G or LTE phone networks with blistering speeds.
- The UFB fibre network will reach more New Zealanders. It’ll transform some towns – I’m looking at you Whangarei – and will start gathering momentum with business users. Most suburbs will still face a long wait to get connected.
- Hardware makers will continue to spray consumers with a bewildering array of devices.
- Touch screens will be everywhere.
- The march to the cloud will continue. More and more software will become browser-based.
- Big data will get bigger.
- Security will still be an issue for businesses.
- The mobile wallet will arrive.
OK, that’s the easy stuff. Now I’m going to stick my neck out with more daring forecasts. You can come back and give me abuse this time next year if I get these wrong:
Dirt cheap hardware
Cheap tablets and smartphones will appear making the technology available to everyone. Expect to see tablets and smartphones for as little as $100. That’s a throwaway price. It will change the way we think about devices. People can take risks buying kit, quickly dumping it if it doesn’t deliver. Kids can take them to school without parents panicking over replacement costs.
Companies, newspapers or ebook stores, will be able to give away cheap tablets with content subscriptions. Devices will be used as lures for all kinds of services. These devices may or may not be locked.
Voice input, output
When I first worked as a tech journalist in 1981, I was at a press conference where I was confidently told full voice recognition was just two years away. I heard the same thing every year for the next 30 years.
Now, at last we’re getting there. Apple’s Siri and the voice tools built into Windows Phone 8 show the technology’s potential. So do products like Dragon DIctate. Computers are powerful enough, software is clever enough, this year we’ll see voice wrapped into more apps. One of them could be the killer app needed to kick-start the voice computing era.
Rural broadband will surprise
The government’s RBI network being built by Vodafone and Chorus will transform rural life and start delivering serious economic benefits. It may not happen in 2013, but I suspect once the results are in, the government or service providers will be happy to pour more money into rural communications because of the higher than expected return on investment.
3D printers take off
Printing in three dimensions isn’t for everyone, but the market in 3D printers will take off in 2013. The devices are already cheaper in absolute terms than the first laser printers were back in the 1980s, in real money that makes them cheap. Expect to see lots of clever 3D made items turn up in shops and homes.
Do you have any risky, non-obvious predictions?