It's the end of the year, which means it's time to look forward to 2013. Considering four out of five of my 2012 predictions came true, I have decided to make more specific predictions for 2013. It's unlikely that all my guesses will be right on (or even close), but that makes the predictions more exciting. Below are my top five tech predictions for the coming year.
Apple TV - Apple is almost certain to release an Apple-branded TV in 2013. However, the details are anything but guaranteed. I think the first Apple TV will come in a single size – 50 inches, and will have a resolution greater than HDTV. It will have a touchscreen remote, but will also be able to be controlled by an iPhone or iPad. The software will bring "On Demand" to a whole new level, with Apple offering immediate access to current TV shows and select movies, while also providing access to services like Netflix and Hulu. Still, the hardware will include a hard drive for storing saved shows. Apple will offer a subscription service for television, based on contracts the company has worked out with the major networks. The company will also benefit by getting a cut of custom advertisements that are targeted to users, rather than the static ads that are broadcast today.
Mac Pro - Apple's Mac Pro hasn't seen a significant update since July, 2010. Therefore, I believe (and really, really hope) that Apple will release a completely redesigned Mac Pro in 2013. It will be roughly one fourth the size of the current version and will include room for additional internal hard drives, but will not have any PCI slots. Alongside the new Mac Pro, Apple will introduce the first standalone HiDPI retina display, which will connect to one of the Mac Pro's Thunderbolt ports.
Windows 8 SP1 - Microsoft "let go" of their software executive just two weeks after Windows 8 was released. This event, combined with the lackluster reception of Microsoft's latest OS leads me to believe that the first Windows 8 service pack will include some major revisions. Many PC users still prefer to use the traditional desktop interface, so I think Microsoft will return the Start button to the desktop and will polish the Windows Explorer interface in an effort to convince more Windows 7 users to upgrade.
Android Marketshare - Android will continue its dominance in the smartphone market, but will make even greater gains in tablet marketshare. 2013 will be the first year where Android tablets begin taking significant marketshare from Apple. While the Android platform has an estimated 42% marketshare at the end of 2012, I believe Android tablets will claim over 50% of the tablet market in 2013.
New Gaming Consoles - Microsoft and Sony will finally update their aging Xbox and PlayStation consoles before the 2013 holiday season. Both devices will be redesigned, though I expect the PS4's redesign to be more dramatic than the Xbox 720. While they will both retain their optical drives, it will be mostly for backwards compatibility, since most titles for the new systems will be purchased by digital download. Besides having the latest graphics processors, the PS4 and Xbox 720 will have much larger hard drives than the current models, around one terabyte in size.
So those are my predictions for next year. Overall, I think 2013 will be a transitional year, with Apple, Microsoft, and Google all trying to figure out the best way to combine their desktop and tablet PC interfaces into a cohesive user experience. It will be a bumpy road, no doubt, but the innovations along the way will produce a better computing experience for us all.