1. The iPad will gain some worthy adversaries.
When Amazon’s Kindle Fire came out I wrote that the tablet wars were starting in earnest, and when I hear Eric Schmidtpromise a “highest quality” Android tablet in 2012 I get excited to see what’s coming. Thanks to tablets and smartphones we’re moving past the PC’s longstanding WIMP interface paradigm (windows, icons, menus, pointers [i.e. cursors]) into one I’m calling VEST — voice, eyes, speech, and touch — that will change what computing devices we use most often, and how we interact with them.
2. A Fortune 500 company will move its productivity and collaboration apps to the cloud.
Berkeley has just explained why it chose Google for its campus-wide email and calendaring apps, so some pretty large organizations are starting to move into the Cloud. I predict at least one big-company CEO will walk away from the on-premises status quo in 2012. If so, it’ll be a fascinating experiment to watch.
3. A web-native bank will appear and inspire fanatical devotion among its customers.
OK, this one is more of a blind hope / cry for help than a prediction. But I’m thoroughly tired of the way incumbent financial services firms treat their customers and neglect their web environments. I want this old, sleepy cartel upset by an online newcomer who cares about what customers want and knows how to deliver it to them.
4. There will be at least one instance of a science fiction technology becoming reality.
I don’t know what this is going to be — exoskeletons for the disabled? working brain control of real-world objects? — but I’m very sure it’s coming. The past couple years have given us cars that drive themselves and computers that win at Jeopardy! Anyone think those are the last of the amazing digital innovations? Me neither.
5. Job prospects and wages will not improve much for the average American worker.
Unfortunately, any honest list of my predictions for 2012 has to include this one. The two forces of trade and technology are combining to create a tough labor market for lots of workers in the U.S., particularly those without specialized skills. I deeply wish things would get better for them, but I don’t think they’re going to. If you want to learn more about why I think this, check out Race Against the Machine, the ebook I published this past fall with Erik Brynjolsson.
6. The material conditions of life will continue to get better for most people, in most countries.
This prediction might seem incompatible with the previous one, but it’s not. Even U.S. workers facing grim job prospects are benefitting from technology’s ability to lower prices and improve quality over time. And freedom, trade, and technology have combined over the past generation to improve conditions for literally billions of people around the world. These happy trends will continue. I am sure of it. Sharp-eyed readers will have realized that the wording of this prediction is not mine; it comes from the late economist Julian Simon, and it ends with the words “most of the time, indefinitely.” He’s right.
What do you think? Which of these predictions do you think are spot on? Which miss the mark, or are flat-out delusional? Leave a comment and let us know.