Monday, January 10, 2005

2005 Tech Predictions

Robert X. Cringely has released his predictions for 2005. I have always found his predictions to be somewhat interesting and this year's are no different. I have some comments on a couple, however.
4) The Recording Industries Association of America will continue to sue customers while their business slowly dissolves. The big threat here isn't file swapping, but affiliate programs like Apple's iTunes Affiliate Program that I am sure will be shortly copied by all the online music stores. These affiliate programs turn bloggers into shills and blogs into record stores, with the result that record company's last source of power -- marketing clout -- is taken away. This will take time, but it is the beginning of the end for old-style record companies.
I see the RIAA making some last ditch efforts to stymie online growth by increased lawsuits against illegal trading in order to put a negative stigma on all online music distribution, legal or not. The biggest reason that I listen to internet radio as opposed to regular radio is that there is actually music being played that I want to hear as opposed to the crap that is paid to be played on corporate radio. I think the same goes for iTunes and its Affiliate Program. People can find music they actually like and purchase it through iTunes instead of going to Walmart or Best Buy and only being able to find the music that is put out by the large, controlling record labels.

I think there will also be at least one gigantic lawsuit, either in dollar amount or in media coverage, that finally gives the RIAA such an evil connotation to the masses, not just the music elite, that they have to at least start to capitulate to the online music sale model.
6) VoIP will continue to shatter the telephone industry with the arrival of WiFi phones, which might finally be the killer app for hotspots. Eventually, all the backbone suppliers will figure out that VoIP is their salvation and will either start their own VoIP companies or ally with big VoIP players.
I don't know about this one. So far from what I've seen and heard, VoIP isn't all it's cracked up to be. We use some VoIP for our internal office network here at work and the software is slick, if sometimes a little cumbersome, but the hardware is the problem. With our instance of VoIP, the software we used was also tied to the hardware and the hardware sucks. The phones are some of the worst I've ever had to work with. I only see VoIP succeeding if there's some kick-ass hardware to go with it.
9) And speaking of MythTV, 2005 will start to show some innovative online video initiatives. Don't expect this until late in the year, but the networks are starting to figure out that control of the broadcast schedule is being taken over by the viewers in a TiVO world, while producers with big libraries are starting to realize they don't need a network to sell bad TV. Since this is a tide they can't stop, the networks will have to decide how best they can surf it. Expect some interesting attempts this year, most of which will fail.
I can see one thing happening with TiVO this year that will piss off a lot of customers--TiVO putting ads into recorded content. Since most people use a TiVO to skip the commercials of the TV they record, in order to recoup losses, advertisting firms make ties with TiVO to have ads run at the beginning or end of a recorded program. Either that, or it will be impossible for TiVO subscribers to fast forward or skip recorded commercials. If either of these things happens, I see TiVO dying a very fast death and another TiVO-esque company taking their spot.
15) Sony's PS3 will be delayed yet again, giving a real advantage to xBox2 IF Microsoft can get it out the door this year in volume.
I really, REALLY hope that this happens. In my opinion, the Xbox is a far superior system to the Playstation 2 and I'd love to see the Xbox2 take a huge chunk of the market share away from Sony. If anything, I think that making Xbox Live! an even bigger part of the Xbox2 will move more units off of the shelf. Sony's online support is ridiculous. Each game is responsible for providing its own servers, support, and interface. With Live! every game has a similar interface and you don't have to worry about some games having sucktacular online support and some having good support--they all use the Live! framework so the only thing holding a game's online experience back is the gameplay itself (and it's networking code, obviously). From a user interface standpoint, Live! kicks Sony's ass. Because it does, Microsoft needs to get consumers aware of this in order to get the Xbox2 a wide user base. It should be a lot easier to do that now as well since just about everyone is getting broadband.

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