Year of Consolidation

Whoa.

This year has been quite a rollercoaster, both in my life and in the wider world. Changed jobs and made a shift in my career, lost my grandfather, met a pro wrestler and 2 celebrity chefs, and started attending Aikido lessons again. Found an old friend again, and met new ones. Started a new garden, and started playing D&D again to return to a hobby at my roots.

Ah, isn’t introspection fun?

A lot of people seem to pretty down on 2008, and that’s definitely understandable. Failures of several large financial institutions in the U.S., a giant bailout for the surviving institutions, the “big 3” automakers nearing the brink…hard not to look at it as a bit of a wash. On the other hand, Barak Obama showed the world that some people actually understand how to use the Internet as a way to get the message out to a wider audience without feeling overly contrived, and he might even help turn things around in 2009. So I guess I don’t look at it as quite as much of a downer as many other do.

Now then, on to my review of last year’s tech predictions and this year’s prognostications. Last year, this is what I predicted in the tech market:

Windows: Vista SP 1 will do little to improve things for Microsoft. The business market will probably continue to avoid upgrading by-and-large, though I suspect that home users who don’t want to bother “downgrading” their shiny new laptops to XP, which will help continue Microsoft’s reign over the desktop O/S.

Linux: Despite the recent cheap desktops from Wal-Mart, and Dell’s recent forays into Linux on their desktops, I don’t suspect we’ll see a lot of growth on the Linux desktop front. That is, until my next prediction starts rolling…

Virtualization: As expected, 2007 has been a big year for Virtualization, but 2008 is going to be even bigger. We’re going to see some serious solutions that go beyond consolidating the datacentre, and I think one of the big things will be virtual desktops. Citrix has been doing something like this for a while, but with other players getting into the game, the world of virtualization is going to get even more interesting.

Hardware: Laptops with flash-based hard drives will drop in price, bringing them to the middle price range. They’ll be more common in compact laptops, since the larger ones can still sustain standard hard drives, and people still expect larger storage volumes on laptops with all the special features. Speaking of laptops, the price drops will most likely continue, which will prompt people who are ready to replace their desktops to very seriously consider laptops.

Security: The big one to watch is the mobile field. Viruses for mobile devices aren’t new by any stretch, but with the growth RIM has seen in the non-business user market for their Blackberry devices, it’s really only a matter of time before these devices become too ubiquitous to ignore. Let’s hope that RIM, Palm, and Microsoft have anticipated this trend and built-in some safeguards (though there’s no substitute for user education).

Well, I think I was pretty much on the mark for Windows and Linux; Vista SP 1 didn’t seem to have much effect on sales of Vista, but sales continued simply because new computers were shipping with it. There were a couple of interesting in-roads made on the Linux front, but nothing I’d call a major shift. I missed the mark on Virtualization this year, and to be honest I’m not sure why. I mean, it certainly continued to expand, but I just didn’t feel the same buzz in the market about it. The call on flash-based hard drives was a bit off; the big drives aren’t really coming in to the mid-range market yet, but I hadn’t expected the explosion of netbooks such as the Asus eee PC and it’s successor, the Aspire. As for the security call, that one was a big miss – while there were certainly a few scholarly articles discussing the mobile vector, but we haven’t seen the outbreak of a single serious virus over the Blackberry.

As for this year’s predictions…well, to be honest, the biggest one that I can make is that there will be a lot less awesome tech coming out. I think we’ll see more of the Web 2.0 startups shutter or be bought for a song by larger “traditional” media corporations. Companies aren’t going to shell out much for I.T., so companies that help other companies save money on their I.T. infrastructure are well-positioned to weather this recession. I think the netbook market will probably continue to grow, since they’re quite cheap and provide the basic requirements for a mobile computer. I don’t think we’ll see any serious innovation there, but that’s more due to the recession than anything else.

I don’t really know what to expect for my own life in 2009, other than it’s guaranteed to be an exciting ride – it always is.

I wish you all a fantastic New Year – see you there!

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