Most people making predictions about the future never face accountability for their erroneous or vague forecasts.
“Experts” predict future developments, especially online, and only follow up if they happen to hit correctly.
I, however, will gladly hold myself accountable for the following forecast of exciting developments that will revolutionize use of the Internet for all of us within the next twelve to thirty six months.
Download movies through your computer? YES.
With more than 50% of all online access in the U.S. now at broadband speed, the infrastructure for downloading movies exists. Combine that with the availability of cheap CD- burners, TiVo, and portable players like the new Sony PSP, and all the ingredients now exist for movies on-demand over the Internet.
Live performances by famous and unknown artists? YES.
Emerging talents will get “discovered” by the popular culture through live broadcasts, “Podcasting” and other “events” over the Internet.
“Podcasting” in particular will drive the social network effect of people passing along new music and content to friends.
True freedom and mobility through video conferencing? NO.
About 3 years ago, I predicted that individuals providing personal services such as bookkeeping, accounting, writing, computer programming or other consulting functions would use inexpensive and highly portable video conferencing access and equipment to provide face-to-face personal interaction.
I was wrong. People have discovered that, with some things, it’s just plain easier to pick up the phone and talk to someone.
I now doubt that more traditional functions like this will adopt video conferencing.
The “little guy” will get completely swallowed up by big business? NO.
Enhancements in technology will allow creative and innovative companies to compete on a scale with enormous companies.
New ideas, innovations and the ability to bring them to market quickly through powerful online channels will dictate the initial success or failure in business.
However, once the business gets established, the “little guy” will always lose to the “business” that operates like a business.
Companies large and small learned how to market online correctly in the last few years, so now long-term success directly relates to the ability to operate like a business, not a “lone gun” operating from an Internet connection in a spare room.
An increasing feeling of loneliness and isolation for people who work online? YES.
It rates much easier for people to retreat into a “virtual” world, filled with virtual friends and relationships, than to face reality in the offline world.
I think this trend of psychic disconnect will continue until people realize they need a balance of offline friends and interests too.
Three general developments will drive this next wave of technological innovation: faster, cheaper computer processors; increased access to broadband Internet; and cheap data storage devices with huge capacity.
I also think one of the most important developments to watch in the next year involves any portable device that allows the user to take digital media with them.
In particular, portable MP3 players and portable digital video players, present the most exciting and explosive possibilities for growth.