It's the week before the new year, which means it's time for my first annual Tech Predictions. That's right, it's the first time I'm doing this. Like previous years, 2010 has been ripe with new innovations and the introduction of new technologies. Here are five predictions I have made for 2011.
Apple - Many people have been speculating what Apple will do with the $50 billion of cash reserves they have accumulated. My guess is that they will begin to design and manufacture their own processors. While $50 billion is not enough to buy out a company like Intel, it's more than enough to acquire ARM Holdings or AMD, or perhaps launch their own processor development company. Apple has already created its own "A4" processor, which is used in the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. I believe if Apple invested their current cash reserves in processor development, it would makes a lot of sense.
Standards - Move over USB 2.0, USB 3 is coming. I believe that most computers introduced in 2011 will have USB 3 ports. The USB 3 interface is roughly ten times faster than USB 2.0 and is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 (though you may need an adapter). If USB 3 lives up to its promise, the new FireWire 1600 and 3200 standards may already be obsolete. It's too bad; I've always liked FireWire more than USB.
Media - In the past few years, we have begun to see a noticeable shift away from optical media, such as CDs and DVDs, to downloadable digital content (just ask Blockbuster). I think this pace will accelerate in 2011. Stores will begin stocking fewer discs for software, music, and movies, since people will be able to download the content from their homes. Many people are still getting used to the idea of paying for seemingly intangible downloads, but once users get accustomed to the process, buying boxes at stores won't make a lot of sense. I think the huge shift will come when the next generation of video game consoles are released in late 2011 or early 2012. I wouldn't be surprised if the new Wii, Xbox, and PlayStations promote downloads as the default way to buy new video games.
Books - If CDs and DVDs are on their way out, you better believe printed books are heading towards obsolescence as well. I know it seems hard to accept that paperback and hardcover books will one day be the minority, but it is inevitable. The current generation of students are already moving away from printed textbooks and are downloading educational content to their laptops, Kindles, Nooks, and iPads. While this transition will take years to happen, I believe 2011 will be the turning point when electronic books really gain momentum.
Displays - Here is my craziest prediction. I mentioned in my iPhone 4 review that my computer display seemed blurry after using the iPhone 4's ultra high-resolution "retina display." I believe it is feasible for that type of resolution to come to larger displays such as laptop screens and computer monitors. After all, why do you think Mac OS X supports a 512x512 pixel icon size? Such a large icon size isn't useful for today's screens, but if the screen resolution were doubled (like the iPhone 4's screen compared to the iPhone 3GS), a 512x512 icon just might make sense.
So those are my top five Tech Predictions for 2011. If you have any ideas about what you think might happen in 2011, I hope you'll let me know!