Webometric Thoughts

January 2, 2009

Blog on 2009

The choice of January 1st as New Year’s day always annoys me, but as virtually no one else in the Western World questions the choice I reluctantly go along with the general concensus (albeit in the most miserable manner possible). It is, therefore, an appropriate time to think about the year ahead and like so many other bloggers make a few predictions/uneducated-guesses/pointless-meanderings about the world of technology. [Basically a long rambling random selection of my current thoughts on technology summed up in a simple list].

The Good News
1. The N97 takes Nokia back to the top of the pile
At the end of this month my N95 contract will finally be over. The problem I have is that there isn’t really a better phone on the market:
- The improvements on the N96 are negligible, and are not worth another 12/18-month contract.
- The G1 is missing a decent camera, GPS, and most importantly a large enough user base to create all those extra applications I want.
- The iPhone…well I just don’t understand why anyone would get such an over-hyped, locked-down, touchscreen-only phone.
Whilst the N97 is likely to be the best smartphone on the market in 2009 (whenever it emerges) that is no guarantee of success, but hopefully a move to more austere times in 2009 will be a set-back to Apple, the epitome of style over substance.

2. Distributed social networks will shrink Facebook traffic
I am hoping for a distributed future for social networks; one where I am in control of my account, my data, my applications. Be it a desire for photos of breastfeeding mothers, playing games that infringe intellectual copyright, or pretending to be the president of Guyana. Whilst I don’t disagree with any of the decisions Facebook has made on these particular issues, there may on occasion be times that I do disagree with Facebook. If you are on Facebook you have to abide by Facebook’s arbitrary rules and the rules of your own country; if you are on a distributed social network you only have to abide by the rules of your own country.

3. Project Kangaroo will hit UK desktops
It was back in 2007 that I first heard about the proposed single on-demand player for BBC, ITV, and Channel 4, and whilst it all seems to have been bad news in 2008 with the Competition Commission complaining about a lack of rivalry, I think 2009 will be the year it moves/jumps forwards. The idea that a rivalry between the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4, is driving innovation in video-on-demand in the UK is best described as ‘bollocks’. Obviously the organisations will make comparisons with one another, but they are equally concerned about comparing themselves with international competitors (e.g., YouTube). 2009 will either be the year that the Competition Commission realises this, the Competition Commission fails to realise but bows to public demand for a single player, or the BBC freely share the technology in such a way as to circumvent the Competition Commission’s ruling.

The Bad News
4. The general public continue to ignore QR codes
It was also back in 2007 that I first discovered QR codes, and the Sun told the masses all about them. During 2008 the masses have continued to ignore them, and I think 2009 will be much the same. Whilst the Pepsi Max campaign will, no-doubt, increase QR code awareness amongst certain sections of the population, there is not yet a killer application for the mass of the population. The question is whether QR codes will be able to carve out a niche before RFID tags become more widespread, if not it may be a technology that just passes the UK by; the moment of truth probably won’t come until 2010.

5. No Google alternative will emerge
I have been disliking Google for many years now, and I don’t expect 2009 to see a change in my attitude: no single company should have so much control on what people see on the internet. Yahoo will continue to shrink, Live will slow their loss of market share by throwing money at it, but eventually Google will know everything and control everything you know. Alongside this pessimistic view, it is worth noting that if a markedly better search engine does emerge, and spreads virally as an embedded application in a social networking site (the only way to compete against the Google-do-all-portal), then the Google fortunes could fall over night.

nb. I do realise that January 1st would have been a more appropriate day for such meanderings, but yesterday was spent lounging around watching ‘family’ movies….why I never went to the cinema to watch “The Shaggy Dog” will forever remain a mystery.

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