Technology predictions for 2012
The birth of Apple TV and failure of Google+ are among the technology team's predictions for 2012
1. Apple TV
Rumour has it Apple will launch a television set in 2012. Making predictions about what Apple is planning is a risky business but here goes: I think we'll see an Apple TV set with content delivered as iOS-style apps.
Catch-up TV services, streaming films from Lovefilm and Netflix and live sport from Sky could be brought together to create an a la carte television offering. Certainly, it's unlikely to deliver everything and that will put off lots of viewers. The current offering of films and TV shows for British Apple TV users, for example, is far less comprehensive than it could be.
However, releasing a TV would encourage more providers to make their content available. I feel quite sure that this is what's coming. The only thing I'm not sure about is that it's coming in 2012. Even late 2012 might be too early for such a bold product. We'll see.
2. Kindle Fire lands
Amazon launched the Kindle Fire in the US at the end of 2011. Despite some mixed reviews, the budget tablet has been selling well - at least, according to the limited information that the online bookseller has made available. We had to wait a long time before the Kindle ereader was released in the UK and Ireland but it's a fairly safe bet that we will see the Kindle Fire here before the end of 2012.
As production ramps up, it's possible that Amazon could be ready to expand outside the US in the spring but it's more likely that the Kindle Fire will launch internationally in the autumn, ready for the Christmas boom.
There's also a good chance that there will be a new version of the Kindle Fire by then - either a second, larger tablet or an improved version of the original. Amazon has a good record of improving the Kindle with each generation, so there's a good chance that British buyers will be getting a better product than the one which has launched this year in America.
3. YouView finally launches
Next year YouView, the long-awaited internet connected TV set top box from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT, Arqiva, and TalkTalk, is finally expected to make its much overdue debut.
It had been billed to launch in 2010, but has been best with delays due to technical glitches.
This year Lord Alan Sugar was brought on board to ferry the process along and get the boxes onto shop shelves. The proposition, self-styled as the next generation of Freeview, is meant to be a well executed product – but it remains to be seen what consumer appetite there is for YouView.
4. Google+ fails as a social network
Google+ is unlikely to beat Facebook as the world’s leading social network anytime during 2012. Plus after Facebook’s highly anticipated $100bn float, it will have a major war chest to invest in the site and spend on improving its reach.
In 2012 Google+ is more likely to become another feature of the Google suite of web products, rather than a killer social network which can rival Facebook’s dominance.
Certain Google+ features, such as ‘Circles’, are likely to be fun additions to the way people communicate and share certain bits of information on Google-owned sites, such as YouTube. However, it is highly unlikely that Facebook will have to worry about a major rival in the form of Google+ next year.
5. Grim for RIM
The BlackBerry maker looked increasingly out of its depth through 2011 as the mobile computing revolution was advanced by Apple, Google and Microsoft.
RIM lacks the enormous cash reserves of those rivals, its smartphones are dated (with updates disastrously delayed), its tablet is a debacle and its market share is plummeting. The spike in RIM’s low share price when it was revealed that Amazon had toyed with an acquisition shows that in 2012 the firm will be a major target.
The outlook if RIM tries to turn things around on its own, as its executives say it will, is grim.
6. Google antitrust woes
In 2012 we’ll discover if Google is a dangerous monopoly. Its dominance of web search is almost complete, but the question under consideration by the European Commission is whether Google abuses that dominance to promote its sideline businesses at the expense of rivals.
The evidence that has emerged so far doesn’t look great for Google. Eric Schmidt is already making conciliatory noises in the hope of reaching a settlement and avoiding the enormously costly and distracting legal quagmire that so damaged Microsoft in the late 1990s.