I’ve read through quite a few of the 2006 predictions lists
. My 2006 list is more of a wish list of the technology trends/innovations that I’d like to see in 2006. Some of these are definitely going to happen. In fact, some might be announced next week at CES
So here it is in no particular order.
1) Expansion of mobile video
With Slingbox, I have a great solution for remote viewing of my TiVo on my laptop when I’m on the road, at work, etc. Apple is off to a great start with the latest iPod and the catalog of video offerings on iTunes is growing every week. DirecTV is rumored to have a mobile video offering coming soon, Tivo is testing a new feature that will allow you to download your recorded video to your iPod or PSP, and the cell phone providers are starting to roll out video services. I’ll be a happy guy when all of my recorded TiVo shows are available on my handheld device. The big question is will that content be on my smart phone (Treo 700, Motorola Q, etc.), on an iPod?, on a PSP?, all of the above?
2) Subscription music services available on additional devices
Most subscription music services are available on portable music players but there are additional fees. Sprint PCS is offering Rhapsody but there are additional fees and I haven’t heard great things about the audio quality. If I’m paying $10 per month for subscription for Rhapsody, I want to have seamless access to that music on a portable device (preferably my iPod or mobile phone), in the car, etc. Regarding the car option, I’d love to see Sirius or XM partner with one of the big subscription music services (Rhapsody, Yahoo Music, Napster, etc.). The other possibility here is a wireless provider (Cingular, Google?) but this would be a real technical challenge to offer continuous access to a fast-moving vehicle.
3) Wide Rollout of 3G in the U.S.
It’s no secret that the U.S. has lagged behind Asia and Europe on the rollout of 3G. Hopefully we’ll see a broader rollout of 3G services by the major U.S. wireless providers in 2006.
4) Affordable national wireless coverage
I’d like to be able to spend about $5 per month or less for national wireless coverage. For me this means coverage in every major city in the U.S. and not just in airports, hotels, and Starbucks.
5) Better solution for digital music in the car
If you don’t have a line-in jack on your car stereo, the best solution for listening to your iPod in the car is the cassette adapter. The FM transmitters are a decent option but the sound quality suffers and there are problems with this solution if your live in an urban area. We also need to purchase all kinds of accessories to mount our iPods in the car. We need a simpler solution. For example: Why can’t I have a 20 GB thumb drive that contains all of my digitial music. I can insert it into a portable music player (iPod or cell phone) if I’m on the go and I can insert it into the car stereo when I’m in the car.
6) High-res camera on my cell phone
The camera on my old Treo 600 is a joke. It’s better on the Treo 650 but it’s still pretty weak. It’s time for phones like the Treo to have at least a 3 megapixel camera as a standard feature. I use a digital SLR (Nikon D70) and have been using an old Canon S230 when I don’t want to lug around my big camera. I’d much rather have this camera on my phone.
7) Access your media content from anywhere
DVR’s are great because they allow us to timeshift our television content – watching shows on our schedules, not the network’s schedule. Placeshifting is a little different. Most people are already familiar with placeshifting computers using VNC or Remote Desktop. There is a lot of room for new innovations in this area. Slingbox has been the biggest pioneer of placeshifting, which allows you to access your video content from anywhere with a broadband connection (currently no support for Mac or mobile operating systems). I’d like to see Slingbox expand their product to also offer “slinging” of music and photo content. Another way to access your content from anywhere is to used a web based service to remotely store your content. There are a lot of advantages to this. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on storage devices and losing your data if your hard drive crashes. On the other hand, what happens if the company goes out of business? Here are a few online storage and placeshifting services that I will be keeping an eye on in 2006:
Glide Effortless (NY Times article)
OmniDrive (launching January 2006)
GlooNet by GlooLabs
Xdrive (wireless access coming soon)
8) The cost of flash memory continues to drop
Do you remember when a 1 GB flash memory card costed over $200? Now you can get one for less than $75. There’s no doubt that this trend will continue. Will we see a 100 GB iPod by the end of the year? $25 for a 1 GB thumb drive?
9) Continuing drop in the price of flat-screen TV’s
I’ve had my eye on the Pioneer Elite 43″ plasma TV for a while now. These used to cost over $6,000 a couple of years ago. Now they are less than $5000. BestBuy has one listed today for $4,499.99. In 6 months I’ll bet this model is avaialable for less than $4,000.
Some other products/services that are on the way that I’m looking forward to:
Windows Mobile support on Slingbox
Treo 700 running Windows Mobile
HDTV enabled TiVo with CableCARD support
Rollout of Blu-ray (next-generation DVD format)
Improved Mac Mini (code name Kaleidoscope)
Rollout of Wi-Fi services on U.S. flights (e.g. Boeing’s Connexion service)
Web-based applications: Sunrise (CRM), Shopify (e-commerce), Fluxiom (knowledge management)
Riya (photo search using face recognition technology)
OK, that’s it for now. I’m sure that I’ll be adding to this list.