Thursday, December 29, 2011

So what's in the cards for 2012?

Well, I'll talk about the personal year in another day or so. This is about technology. Yeah, I know it's not thrilling, but I have a pretty good track record of predictions here - way better than most of those who call themselves pundits. Then again, maybe it's because I do this for a living. Go figure.

First - Apple will introduce an iPad 3 sometime in the February-March timeframe. Done deal. This year's model with have their "A6" processor and it'll be quad-core. Graphics will be via a 2048*1536 "Retina Display" for the iPad. It'll be the same size as the iPad 2, and get about the same battery life. RAM may go up to 1GB, but I'm not so sure about it. Storage will increase to a maximum of 128GB, but the low-end model may or may not stay at 16GB. I kind of thing they'll go to 32GB.

And the iPad 3 will still dominate the tablet ecosystem, with pundits saying Android will take over any day now.

Second - Amazon will sell the Kindle Fire well enough to keep it on the market. After a minor hardware revision mid-year (addressing things like volume buttons) it'll be clear that the Fire crushes the tablet market from below the way the iPad does in the mainstream. At least one second-tier vendor will abandon the market entirely.

Third - RIM won't finish the year as an independent company. They will either collapse and be broken up Nortel-style, or be sold as a server and software company. Their handset market will vanish. That sign has already started to appear.

Fourth - Apple will have an "iPhone 5" this year, but only if an LTE chipset of adequate power usage can be gotten. Right now I'm not sure. When the LTE iPhone does ship, it will have a form factor change, though I doubt a radical one.

If the chipset isn't there, we might see the iPhone 4S last through all of 2012.

Fifth - Android apps will start to sell better, but iOS will remain the developer platform of choice, and the sales will continue to reflect that. But some developers will be able to make a living catering to Android first, which hasn't been the case to date.

Sixth - Although I'm not really making many desktop predictions, I'll make two here: Windows 8 will ship late in the year, and be decent. It won't be more than a blip in the numbers until 2013, and won't ever make much of an impact in the tablet market. Also, Apple will have an update to the Mac Pro in 2012. That will be the swan song for the platform. Any redesign will be shrunken to a more mini tower form factor, and cheaper to manufacture. Don't expect that until 2013, either. But I wouldn't be surprised to be wrong about the Mac Pro in any way at all.

That gets us through most of the year. I didn't make any real predictions in desktop/server areas because all the action is mobile nowadays - not a lot of change will happen there, and not many new developments. Chipzilla will have a new desktop/laptop chipset platform shipping in the spring, everyone will revise their systems to use it. Linux still won't be on any desktops. Done deal.