Apple iPhone 5, iPad 3 and Google Android: What Yogi Berra Would Say

Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Here’s what our Phil Baker portends for 2012 in tech, in the spirit of baseball great Yogi Berra.

The hardest thing to predict, baseball great Yogi Berra said, is the future.

It’s a funny line — no one truly knows what surprises 2012 has in store tech-wise or otherwise. I looked back at some of the predictions I made last year and I was right that Verizon finally got a deal with Apple for a Verizon Apple iPhone, the Sprint would be next and that dropped calls in general would become less of a problem. I didn’t predict the patent wars around Apple, Google, Samsung and a dozen other makers surrounding the Google Android OS, though.

In 2012, we’ll of course see the intro of the iPad 3 with that high-res retina display and continued anemic Android sales. Regarding the iPad, we expect it to continue to dominate the market and arrive in two versions — a pro version targeting serious users, businesses and enterprise and a lower-priced $349 one that will probably be featured in the Apple Stores soon to be in Targets everywhere.

Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Amazon will continue to briskly sell its Amazon Kindle Fire tablet at $199 and Barnes & Noble’s Color Nook should do okay. Google will most certainly come out with its own tablet — perhaps a white box for others to rebrand — I don’t think it’ll get much traction.

We’ll see an Apple iPhone 5 in the fall with faster 4G speeds, a larger display and a thinner form factor.

It turned out I was wrong about Microsoft entering the market with a Microsoft branded tablet or smartphone, but who could’ve guessed its billion-dollar investment and partnership with smartphone maker Nokia at CES 2011. In 2012, Microsoft will  introduce its new Windows 8 — I predict it won’t be forever late, as was Windows Vista — and I believe that OS will result in  thin and light Windows notebooks with touch screens and removable keyboards.

It will be the best of both worlds, a tablet and notebook, in one package. That’s saying a lot for a Mac guy like me.

I’m less optimistic about Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, especially on the Nokia smartphones coming out now. Nokia in 2012 will likely follow the path RIM is on now — headed toward irrelevance and oblivion. Mango is just too little, too late.

Solid-state drives (SSD)  is now ubiquitous in notebooks, as I predicted last year. So we’ll see even more PCs in the thin and light category — competing with the MacBook Air. But Apple will expand the Air concept — optical free and cloud integrated — more and more of its light notebooks. Apple will continue to lead here in 2012.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) —  a terrible piece of legislation foisted up by the entertainment biz — will never become law no matter how hard Hollywood tries. If I’m wrong , then I predict a new underground web will emerge, free from these regulations, and it will disrupt the web as we know it today.

Privacy will continue to be a huge issue in 2012 with Facebook sharing user information more easily with friends and advertisers — and using its new timeline feature to remove all semblances of keeping personal data private.

But in 2011, it was this same Facebook, along with other technologies such as Twitter, email, instant messaging, and YouTube, that helped fuel the overturn of dictatorships, a phenomenon no one predicted.

Facebook will go public in 2012 with the largest IPO ever.

In 2012 , fewer businesses will take their customers for granted as some did in 2011. They won’t want a repeat of what befell Netflix, losing millions of customers after a 60 percent price increase from an arrogant CEO with silly apologies and backpedaling. They’ll try to avoid web host provider GoDaddy experienced last week: the loss of tens of thousands of hosted sites after endorsing SOPA.

Apple will introduce a flat screen television that will make it much easier to watch any show on demand through an iTunes-like service. It will be the first effort to provide competition to the cable companies, which don’t allow us to buy just what we want. They want us in their pocket. The TV will use Siri to supplement its remote. Imagine a larger desktop Mac with a huge 50-inch display — and that’s what we’ll get in time for the holidays next year, maybe sooner.

Expect to see a continuing shrinkage of the retail big-box stores in 2012, such as Best Buy, as online shopping continues to explode.  Last year I underestimated Groupon’s staying power — and it had a successful IPO. This year it will be the trick for local businesses fighting against Amazon. And Amazon will face a barrage of lawsuits from sellers on its website, being accused of unfair and illegal business practices.

Sensors and health monitoring will grow beyond today’s capabilities of the Fit Bit and the Jawbone GO. We’ll be able to wirelessly connect them to the iPhone to monitor many of our activities, analyze the data and receive recommendations. We’ll see more connected health devices as well, providing remote medical monitoring connecting the patient to the doctor over cellular connections.

With the proliferation of eBook readers we’ll see more pushback on the FAA and the airlines to change their rules for turning off all electronic devices during takeoff and landing. More studies will emerge that continue to show that the rules have no technical legitimacy.

Finally, which companies will be up and down in 2012? Up will be Apple, Facebook, Google and Groupon. Down will be Nokia, RIM, Sony and Best Buy. Amazon will be both. While sales will grow, it will endure huge losses as it subsidizes its Kindle Fire and deals with returns from teens who really wanted an iPad experience.

And why Sony? It has yet to grow significantly in any consumer product category, is still losing money on TVs where it once dominated, and saw big slippage in its e-reader business, a category it began. And its strategy announced two years ago to bet everything on 3D has been a failure.

Lastly, notice how few are questioning the continued success of Apple with the sad passing of Steve Jobs? I think Apple has enough momentum (and products in the pipeline) for two years, but after that it’s a cloudier picture.

Now there are a few things I wish would come true in 2012. I wish email spammers would just go away, along with pop-up ads and instant surveys. I wish those 6 p.m. telemarketer phone calls would cease, and I wish more companies allowed us to opt in, not opt out to get their email.

Lastly, I wish we all thought twice about upgrading to the latest revision of every gadget and, instead, used a product until it actually wore out. But we won’t.

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