2012 Predictions

Looking Back

Let’s start by looking back at the most highly-visible* changes in technology from previous years:

  • Smartphones: Apple reinvigorates the market by introducing a responsive, capacitive-touch device with the iPhone. Google follows, then Microsoft. Google gets great market share, but no one makes more profit than Apple[1]. Microsoft currently languishes, despite Nokia’s heft. RIM? LOL.
  • Apps: Apple effectively invents the segment, others follow. No one else makes more money off apps than Apple[2].
  • Tablets: Apple invents the capacitive-touch tablet segment (yes rah rah Microsoft Tablet PC puh-lease), others follow. No one makes a dent in Apple’s 90+% market share[3]. Windows 8 shows promise, but I genuinely think Microsoft needs to build the hardware themselves to make it truly shine.
  • Ultrabooks: Apple invents the segment with the Macbook Air. Intel is “not paying”[4] OEMs to create alternatives. Personally I just can’t help feeling like this is some kind of horrible Netbook flashback.


So, my prediction for 2012? Apple invents. Everyone copies Apple. Poorly.

There are rumours swirling that Apple is readying a push into TV. Whether that is in the form of an actual large-panel display (unlikely) or a re-jig of the AppleTV (more likely) is irrelevant. What is more relevant is that when Apple enters the TV game, things will change. I could outline why, but fuck it: Apps and Content.

Competition? The current efforts to revolutionise TV are a joke. Google TV has had more mis-starts than a 1970’s Valiant.¬†Samsung’s¬†“Smart TV” might as well be bullshit smeared across your flat panel. Microsoft’s XBox is perhaps the closest alternative, but it needs to be smaller, easier, and frictionless.

Fanboy Defence Disclaimer

Yes, in many cases Apple are standing on the shoulders of giants, riffing on what already existed. You say “anyone could do that”. So why is it that Apple’s product in a particular segment stands above all others in quality, user experience, and profit?

Do I like this state of affairs? Not really. I’d love it if there were more than one company capable of creating new, profitable consumer market segments with devices that are wonderful to use. There just isn’t.

* Outside of the consumer market, there is a ton of really interesting innovation happening (cloud, open source, web, office). Maybe I’ll cover that in a separate post.


  1. http://www.asymco.com/2011/07/29/apple-captured-two-thirds-of-available-mobile-phone-profits-in-q2/
  2. http://www.slashgear.com/apple-app-store-sees-6x-revenue-versus-android-in-top-apps-21203749/
  3. http://daringfireball.net/2011/11/fun_with_numbers
  4. http://www.theverge.com/2011/12/2/2606585/intel-denies-ultrabook-subsidies


  1. You will have to forgive me Ben, but these predictions are irrelevant as they are inane. They are to predicting technology to what looking out the window is to Meteorology.

    It seems we are like ants scurrying about with no conception of the natural limits and consequences of our actions. Yet they are not difficult to foresee. They do not require crystal balls or a mystical sage.

    All that is required is some basic science and maths. From this we can determine what will happen to our oil based economies. How long will our oil supply last? What impact will increasing population and prosperity have on longevity of the resource?

    My main point here is that meaningful projections can be made, and we can know with some certainty what will happen over the next twenty years or so. If people like yourself fail to have the vision to address these issues we will fail to adapt.

    1. I completely understand where you are coming from Peter, but my predictions extend only to the fickle and pointless world of consumer electronics.

      Ironically, however, if you were to pick a company out of the current crop that has the potential (and ability) to innovate our way out of the current crisis, which would you pick? I’d pick Apple. If only they’d apply their design-thinking to larger problems.

  2. Hmmm..it kinda overlaps the comsumer and business markets, but aren’t you forgetting Windows 7?

    It’s a long time since MS got something so right, but boy, they did it big time with Win 7.

    Granted most of it is a clever re-packaging and some enhancements to tech and concepts already introduced in Vista, but really, from a personal perspective and from experience in dploying in managing large numbers of Win 7 corporate installations it is a huge advance in reliability, managability and usability. And they also managed to make it releatively elegant and uncluttered.

    Mind you, if the Win 8 preview is anything to go by though, they just broke it again. Man, Metro UI sucks on a PC!

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