Yes indeed, we are taking another crack at predicting the future here on the Bella Buzz podcast. Last January we put down our thoughts on the year 2011 and determined that we had been pretty accurate during our recent recap. Now we focus on what is ahead and hope to have the same prescience.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
1) The prominent selling feature for automobiles will become their level of internet connectivity.
It was a revelation to the automakers when they discovered that car buyers cared more about cup holders than they did the horsepower and fuel mileage rolling off the assembly plant lines. We have reached another turning point in vehicle marketing as demonstrated by the incredible features built into the Ford Sync products.
When the next model year starts hitting the showrooms, auto shows, and prime time advertising slots, the focus will be on how well the vehicle is connected to the web. We all have devices that provide GPS navigation, streaming content, and telephony, but rather than multiple devices why not have the car be a single device?
2) More consumer devices will be launching with social network connectivity
Along the same lines as the thinking about cars, we will find Consumer Electronics Show vendors demonstrating the value of connecting devices to the web. Whether it be the refrigerator that maintains an inventory of items that need replenishment, the washer and dryer which is controlled remotely via smartphone, or the scale that incorporates peer pressure to help incentivize weight loss, we will see consumer products that incorporate the value of being connected.
One note regarding a topic that we have discussed before on the podcast. When we get to a fully connected world, we have to be even more vigilant about protecting the infrastructure that allows us to access the networks. Any disruption in service becomes magnified exponentially as we rely on more connected devices.
3) By the end of the year we may be talking about the demise or sale of RIM / Blackberry
The company that once owned the corporate mobile space has tried to desperately to maintain marketshare, and is failing miserably. Year long news coverage of the company and its products has sent RIM into a death spiral that may be impossible to pull out of. Whether it be a strange Co-CEO management structure or network outages or a bungled launch of the Playbook that saw the most important components of the Blackberry phone missing from the tablet, it was not a happy year for the company.
Version 2.0 has resolved the basic application problems of the Playbook, but stiff competition from the iPad and other Android devices will be hard to overcome. The often overlooked functionality of these tablets is the built in ecosystem that they are connected to. iTunes, Amazon and even Barnes & Noble allow a subsidized device to generate revenue from frictionless consuming. It might take an acquisition from a company with an ecosystem to save RIM. Best Buy?
4) An Internet giant will acquire an Internet provider and charge for access.
Will Google, Apple, or Facebook acquire an Internet service provider such as Comcast or AT&T as a way to control our connectivity to the web? There are already strategic relationships between these entities such as Apple and AT&T or Google and Verizon in wireless spectrum, which could be leveraged to advance their business interests. Their business model would be some form of package deal that provides access and device preferences.
For this to come true, they would have to demonstrate that they are not going to infringe upon net neutrality rights.
5) The election year will elevate the discussion regarding proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation.
The 2011 legislative session almost saw the Stop Internet Piracy Act or its cousin the Protect IP Act slip through committee for enactment. Due to a growing and vocal community of opponents, the calendar turned without approval. That does not mean this legislation has gone away. The record and movie industries have put together a well funded coalition of supporters who might have intentions of stopping piracy, but lack a thorough understanding of how these bills would stifle technology innovation, destroy jobs, and in fact initiate more ways of causing damage to innocent people.
We are looking at clashing titans getting ready to do battle with the political machine right in the middle. The 2012 election process will have to deal with this issue, and it may get worse for us before it gets better.
So …. what do you think? Are you expecting something to happen during 2012 that we did not address? We would love to have you leave a comment with your own predictions!
Happy New Year!
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