Brian Willis

Predictions for 2013

I’ve decided to make this an annual tradition around here. Remember folks - this rampant speculation about the upcoming year is for entertainment only. I have no inside knowledge. Thankfully.

But first, a retrospective on last year’s predictions. In short, I didn’t do all that well. I’d never get a job reading tarot cards. RIM is still in business, but it’s hard to say for how long. WebOS didn’t really go anywhere significant. Windows 8 had an OK-but-not-great launch. We didn’t see a 15” MacBook Air (though the new Retina MacBook Pro fills the slot where I expected a 15” Air to land). I was more or less right about Android on tablets and smartphones though (I even got the Jelly Bean code name right), so that’s something.

So what happens next year?

Tesla starts shipping the Model S, and everyone wants one. Their biggest problem will be that they can’t make them fast enough. The only people unhappy about the success of Tesla are oil companies. This doesn’t bother anyone.

Under the leadership of Marissa Meyer, Yahoo finally gets it together. The long-floundering tech company stops trying to be all things to all people, and focusses its time and energy on a few key products where it actually stands a chance of winning. Yahoo Answers focusses on becoming a decent source of real-time information. Flickr becomes cool again as the joy gets sucked out of Instagram.

Microsoft has its worst year ever. Surface tablets wont sell. Touch screen laptops are derided as a joke (seriously, the whole device wobbles every time you touch the display). Office becomes increasingly irrelevant to small businesses and to consumers. The Enterprise Services division is as important as ever though, and that props up the company. It might be fun to hate on Microsoft (I’m certainly enjoying it), but it’s important to remember that this is a company with a truckload of money. They can afford to run at a loss for quite some time. While their immediate future looks rough, the company isn’t going anywhere.

Google (and in particular Android) has a great year. I have no idea what the next version of Android will be code named (Klondike bar? Krispy Kreme?), but it’ll have a user interface that’s coherent and consistent in a way that no other version of Android has ever been. Google will stop scratching the surface of what’s possible, stop playing catch-up with Apple, and show us a genuine vision for the future of mobile devices. App developers start embracing the platform in a way that was previously reserved for iOS. Android apps start showing up on Beautiful Pixels in significant numbers.

Apple plods along making money hand over fist, but we don’t see an Apple branded television set, wrist watch, pocket knife, or scuba diving kit. They stick to what they know, making better versions of last year’s stuff, and making their customers pretty happy. The Mac Pro gets a major overhaul, making Marco Arment happy. It comes with a Retina Thunderbolt display, which reviewers run out of hyperbole to describe. After 2012’s unremarkable iOS 6, I don’t really have high hopes for the immediate future of the iPhone, though I’m sure it’ll involve fewer bits of torn paper in the calendar app now that Jony Ive is calling the shots.

Last year I ended with a prediction (more of a prayer really) that Half Life 3 gets released. With the news that Valve is working on a new game engine I’ll make the same gamble again this year, and I sincerely hope that this time I’m proven right.