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Predictions for 2008

1. Ultra Mobile PCs: Various form factors continue to emerge without mass-market penetration until 2010.

Innovative UMPC products continue to come to market with no all-conquering form factor. Price, size to weight ratio and successful keyboard/mouse implementation are the biggest factors to achieving good sales. Solid state drives become increasingly prevalent across UMPCs, which benefit from the resulting weight, speed and energy efficiencies. UMPCs fail to win mass-market penetration until 2010 when the laptop market is saturated and consumers see the UMPC as a more portable extension to their now-indispensable laptop.

2. Laptop market: Laptops become fashion accessories, mainstream consumers reduce focus upon technology as most machines will have key features.

Comparative features between models converge and manufacturers have difficulty differentiating themselves based upon technology. Increasingly in 2008 consumers base laptop buying decisions upon image. Laptops start to become mainstream fashion statements by the end of the year. Similar to the clothing market, the cost of buying into the image falls as mainstream manufacturers mass produce designer-style laptops and all-in-ones. Apple’s computer division comes under resulting pressure and the recessionary economic environment forces it to launch a budget MacBook.

3. Digital cameras: Cellphones put pressure on lower end of market.

By the end of 2008, the lower end of the digital camera market starts to come under pressure from cellphones. It is the start of the market’s decline towards a predominantly enthusiast consumer base by 2012.

4. Music downloads: More choice and more DRM-free tracks; iPod market share under pressure.

Driven by pricing pressures, sufficient numbers of record companies break their relationship with Apple. This reduces iTunes’ market share and puts pressure on the iPod range. The principal benefactor is Zune Marketplace, which also gains market share through mass availability of DRM-free downloads.

5. Video downloads: Lots of adverts but no popcorn.

Mobile pay TV and video downloading fail to take off due to pricing concerns from the studios, who fear a repeat of what happened with the music industry.

6. Cellphones: Apple successfully widens product mix amongst consumers, but fails to penetrate corporate market; established players continue to lag behind on user interface but move ahead on technology and features.

iPhone 2.0 comes out and the original model is reduced in price and made available at a new tariff to achieve broader market penetration. Corporates experience increased employee pressure to support iPhone but decline to do so due to security and strategic infrastructure compatibility issues. WiFi VoIP cellphones remain a niche market. LG and Samsung become main emerging threats to Apple in the fashion-conscious market. SonyEricsson continues to lead in music and camera implementation. Nokia’s N-series leads consumer data implementations. HTC originated smartphones fail to win significant market share from RIM in the corporate sector, whose Blackberry devices continue to become more multimedia and consumer orientated.

7. Processor technology: Energy saving on the road and cores races on the desktop.

Exceptionally low voltage x86 instruction-set CPUs start to emerge, allowing smartphones and other highly power-conscious ultra-mobile devices to achieve greater convergence with mainstream PCs. Laptops benefit from further processor energy saving technology. Desktop marketing becomes driven by the number of cores in a processor, but beyond a certain point mainstream operating system and application code fails to derive corresponding performance benefit from this race. OS releases and applications play catch-up in optimizing themselves for multi-core implementations.

8. Gaming: Wii gains wider appeal, PSP vs. DS goes to round two.

The release of Wii Fit gives Nintendo’s platform mass cross-generation market penetration. Playstation 3 finally gets flagship games but these come too late to challenge Wii for global dominance. However Blu-ray’s victory over HD-DVD boosts PS3 sales. Details emerge about the next generation of PSP and DS gaming handhelds. Gyroscope tilt controls and vibration feedback are built-in, as are webcams giving VoIP capability. PSP 2.0 gets two joystick controls. Rumours continue to circulate about an Xbox handheld, but this only arrives in 2009 when the Xbox 360 brand is more firmly established globally.

9. Home entertainment: OLEDs light up living rooms…of the rich and famous, next gen DVD format war continues throughout the year.

Organic LED displays provoke plenty of excitement but fail to enter the mass market yet due to prohibitive cost. It takes until 2010 for prices to start becoming genuinely affordable. The HD-DVD vs Blu-ray format war comes to an end, with Blu-ray winning following studio support.

10. Biggest 2008 rumour which does not become a successful production product: Apple UMPC

So many core Apple multimedia applications require substantial CPU, graphics and screen real estate resources that there is no mass market for an Apple UMPC. The fact that current Apples ship with such serious Intel Core 2 Duo power compared to most PCs means that an entirely new application suite would be needed for an Apple UMPC to be useful on a low power platform. This would be too risky for Apple in 2008, given that the UMPC market is so small and its stylish computer ranges will come under unprecedented pressure from competitors as well as economic recessionary forces.

Neil Berman


Jan 6, 2008 - Posted by | Apple, Audio, Mobile | , , ,

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