What I expect in 2009

Maybe “expect” is a little too strong a word. I should probably say that these are just some of my wild guesses at what may happen next year on the Internet and in science and technology.

  • US Patent reform
    Barack Obama seems to be a smart guy1 and he’s surrounding himself with other very clever people. The system that allowed McDonalds to patent sandwich making in 2006 is evidently fundamentally flawed and must change. Here’s hoping the extinction of the patent troll comes quickly and painfully for those who have been abusing the system for far too long.
  • Twitter charges (or dies)
    Twitter is still hard to place. It is not a replacement for blogging. Despite what TechCrunch want you to think, neither is it a news source. Sure, it can let you know that something has happened but anything after that isn’t subject to the accuracy checks in place for traditional outlets (the Chinese earthquake earlier this year was initially reported to be in Beijing &#150 hundreds of miles away from Sichuan for example).

    A larger problem for Twitter is one of financing. Co-founder Evan Williams has stuttered about this when asked in interviews. Ad support funding is pretty much a non-starter – the response to Magpie was less than stellar with many people viewing it as an abuse of relationships. Would people pay a subscription? Unlikely, even among those who have actually heard of it. Twitter are purportedly targeting businesses with a guaranteed genuine subscription scheme that would assure people that the business they are following is indeed who they think it is.

    I think that it’s only a matter of time before we see Twitter listed on itdied.com along with (the superior) Pownce and Google’s Second Life clone Lively.

  • More mobile services
    The much-needed kick up the behind that the iPhone gave the mobile phone handset industry looks set to continue. Phones with larger screens and fast data access are becoming the norm. National Express have been experimenting with mobile ticketing on selected journeys for the past six months (albeit using WAP – how quaint). I think that dedicated applications that serve eTickets for concerts, train journeys and flights will launch in 2009. There’s also a chance that somebody will develop something that allows for easy mobile banking but this is less likely in my opinion.
  • LED lights gain traction
    By now we all know that we should be using energy efficient light bulbs to save the environment, our power consumption and, consequently, us money. However, people do complain that most can’t be used with dimmer switches. More relevant to the environment though is that these compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) contain nasty chemicals like mercury. Like the long warm up time of older models these shortcomings are being addressed.

    LED bulbs have recently become more of a reality thanks to a new manufacturing process. They don’t contain any mercury at all, are more efficient, last 10 times longer than CFLs (which in turn last 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs).

  • F1 declines
    I’ve been thinking about this for a while and my thoughts were validated last week when Honda pulled out as forecast by Williams chief executive Adam Parr way back in October. Some controversial proposed rule changes have also resulted in quit threats from drivers and constructors alike. France and Canada are currently without races next season because of financial issues already.

    I used to watch Formula One and found it quite entertaining but of late it has become quite boring and, routinely, a procession (with the occasional exception – when the tax exile Lewis Hamilton clinched the drivers’ title on the last corner of the final race for instance).

    I think that F1 will also start to be thought of as environmentally unacceptable as well as financially untenable. Each race alone uses vast amounts of fuel for each car but the overhead for moving the cars, all of the team and associated equipment between each circuit is simply massive.

1 Or so I thought

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