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Cybernaut

Call me Nostradamus

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At the end of 2008 I decided to do what a lot of tech reporters do at the end of a calendar year and make a bunch of predictions for things that would happen over the next 12 months. I reached a little too far in that first attempt and my score on those predictions was a solid "F."

So at the end of 2009 I decided on a slightly more modest approach to my tech predictions, and I have to say that I did pretty well. Like B-plus well.

Google did release its own phone, although the Nexus models were kind of a disaster. They're trying again in 2011, this time keeping things simple. And yes, one of the big selling points of all Google phones is VOIP through Gmail - one of my favourite new technologies this year. Free long distance? I'll take it.

And Apple did release a new iPod Touch with a camera and multitasking (although it didn't work too well until the 4.2 iOS update). No rooting to the directory yet, but it's coming.

Microsoft did not release a Zune Phone, but their Windows Phone 7 platform is getting some pretty good reviews and, yes, it does contain Zune software.

On the legal front, I predicted that the music industry and online retailers would make their peace, and it is happening. The iTunes store is now DRM-free, Zune Passes are selling like hotcakes where they're available (not Canada yet, and Microsoft wouldn't tell me why or when). Internet radio is finally legit. In the U.S. you can buy songs online everywhere from Amazon.com to Walmart.com, so there's real competition as well. Meanwhile the illegal file sharing sites are being methodically shut down, and ISPs are starting to crack down on traffic as well.

I also predicted that Microsoft would settle the Office-killing lawsuit launched by i4i, but the tech giant lost the first ruling and it's now being appealed.

In gaming I predicted that the biggest game of 2010 would be Starcraft II, and I was partially right. The game sold over three million copies in the first month of release, and has probably sold another 1.5 million copies since then. But then Call of Duty: Black Ops hit the shelves on three platforms and sold over five million copies in its first month - a new record for the gaming industry. And Starcraft II might not even be the best selling PC game of 2010, as World of Warcraft: Cataclysm sold 3.3 million copies in the first few weeks and could easily sell a few million more between Christmas and Boxing Day sales. The sales picture will be a lot clearer in the New Year, and I could still be right when all sales are tabulated.

I also said it would be nice to see keyboard/joystick/mouse combos for Xbox and PS3, and I was half right there as well - PS3 has a mouse controller for first person shooters that will probably dominate online gaming and make it a lot less fun for the people using joysticks to aim.

FIFA 2010 was a huge game, as expected, and both Sony and Microsoft followed through on their motion control schemes.

On the web front, I predicted that Mint.com, the online budgeting tool, would at last be introduced in Canada, and as of a month ago I was correct (cut that one pretty close). I also guessed that Hulu would be coming to Canada, and I was completely wrong about that. Truthfully, it may never come to Canada, not as long as our national cable companies also own the Internet network.

As a long shot, I predicted that Facebook would be purchased by Google, but it didn't happen. I also predicted that tiered pricing would come to Canada, and I was correct about that - most of the major ISPs are going to be charging people money when they go over their bandwidth limit. This will be a big story in the future.

To wrap up my predictions, I also said that Bill Gates would return to the business world with another company that is dedicated to technologies and products to eradicate poverty, cure disease and battle climate change.

However, a grant program started by Gates five years ago to the tune of $450 million (so far) has had some positive results but none of the breakthroughs that they hoped for.

On another front, Mr. Gates started a mini war against the teachers unions while calling for larger classrooms where teacher attention is replaced by technology.

On a personal front, I expected to have a few technological details of my own sorted out. By now I'd hoped to have a smart phone, but I'm still waiting on the Zune Pass arriving in Canada before I make my decision. I'd hoped to replace my bulky surround sound system with a Zvox soundbar. I wanted to get my wife a new computer and create a cheap home network using a Pogoplug. I also wanted to cancel cable and instead rely on a higher speed Internet connection for all of my media, but I haven't cut the cable yet. Maybe next year.

Next week: Tech predictions for 2011!

 

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