Linuxslate.com's Predictions for 2009:
24 December 2008
The Mobile Market:
Most new mobile phones in 2009 will have QWERTY keyboards – either physical, or virtual. Numeric only keypads will be relegated to extremely low end phones, or those marketed to the elderly.
UNIX-based OS's will become the predominate mobile phone platform. With the popularity of the iPhone, this may already be happening, but it will be come more clear in 2009.
While I won't go so far as to speculate on a specific new iPhone or tablet from Apple, or even if there will be one, I will say that their participation and significance in the mobile market will continue.
Android will be seen on many mobile devices by the end of 2009. This will work for and against Android as not all products will necessarily be of the best quality.
Linux will grow in the “lesser-tier” Chinese phone category. Instead of running unlicensed copies of Windows Mobile, or claiming to run Windows Mobile, while really running something else, some such phones will claim to run Android. Some will be running a true Android OS while others will be running parts of it, or other Linux-based OS's that claim to be Android. Such phones will also be seen more in the rest of the world as the concept of unlocked phones becomes more known to the mainstream.
By the end of 2009, Nokia will be under pressure to drop Maemo for Android.
Windows Mobile will die in 2009. Pushed out by Apple, Android, and Blackberry, as well as to a much lesser extent by Palm and Maemo, Windows Mobile devices will become too small of a market for Microsoft to remain involved in serious development. They will try, they will push, they will not go down without screaming. They may rename Windows XP as new version of Windows Mobile, but it will be intended for x86 family MID's, NetBooks, and possibly even x86 based mobile phones. By the end of 2009, the Windows CE derived OS will be dying out.
Blackberry will also suffer. While continuing to be a factor in government and business, the Blackberry OS will simply not have the power to deliver rich internet, gaming, and other features that consumers will be demanding on high-end phones. They will remain significant in messaging phones, which will now be the mid-range. Blackberry may also exist as an application that runs on other platforms.
MID's UMPC's and NetBooks
This technology will make gains in 2009, but the market (the consumer) will see just the opposite. Squeezed out between capable mobile phones, and $399 Laptops, I am sad to say that there is simply no market for devices such as this Wibrain I am using now.
The gains will be made in the background – iPhone-like user interfaces, mobile graphics technology, battery technology, and Mobile-friendly x86 chipsets will all enable future tablets and other handheld devices, but, unless Apple (or somebody) can do another iPhone-like leapfrog, we will never see it in 2009.
Instead of Netbooks, we will continue to see devices in the 10” range with a choice of OS. The low end units will run Linux. The same device, with some version of Windows, perhaps the re-named Windows XP mentioned above, will offer more RAM, higher clockspeed and other enhancements over the base system running Linux. The Windows versions will cost $100 to $200 more than the Linux units. As the year progresses, the Linux versions will become available with the same features so that it will end up simply being an OS choice.
2009 will NOT be the year of Linux on the desktop, infact, no year will be the year of Linux on the desktop. Microsoft is inexorably linked to the glorified typewriters we call desktop PC's. Where one goes the other will follow. For the consumer, the desktop PC faces a similar fate to the UMPC and MID. It will eventually be squeezed out of the middle of a triangle formed by connected home media devices, laptops, and more capable mobile devices. We will see this continue in 2009 as more PC's have TV tuners, and more TV's become monitors for something with internet access.
The demise of the desktop is a longer term phenomenon. For 2009, Linux's big gains will, as mentioned above, be in the mobile world. The troves of unknowing Linux users will continue to grow exponentially in 2009.
Devices like the T-Mobile G1, and the Linux-based Asus EeePC's are showing people that Linux can be user-friendly. More importantly, Asus' success with the EeePC made the other manufactures realize that you can make real money selling PC's running Linux. Acer, Dell, HP and others have jumped on the bandwagon. Expect to see Linux as an option on more, and more varied systems.
The Linux offered will overwhelmingly be Ubuntu. I am not exactly sure why, but Ubuntu seems to have the best name recognition, as well as community perception. RedHat will continue to dominate commercial distributions, training, and commercial support. They will also continue their huge development effort, but it will be Ubuntu that the user sees on their desktop.
2009 will NOT be the year that PC hardware manufactures realize that they should provide an OS they tailor for the products they sell. Mobile phone manufactures largely do this, as do game console manufactures and manufactures of pretty much everything else with a processor in it. The PC manufactures haven't wised up to this in the last few years, and I have no reason to believe that they will in 2009. The above mentioned option of a lightly customized version of Ubuntu on some models will be the only step in this direction we see in 2009.
Microsoft's products will actually improve significantly, at least from a security point of view, but interestingly, this will actually hurt Microsoft. First, Security will improve simply because there can only be a finite number of exploitable bugs in Internet Explorer (the number one attack vector for years now). I really believe that at some point, Microsoft has got to fix most of them. There has also been at least some marginal improvement with respect to security in Windows Vista. So why will this hurt the perception of Microsoft? There are 2 rules of perception: 1. Perception always lags the actual events, and 2. Perception is always wrong. People will think of Vista and IE problems from the past well into 2009 regardless of what occurs (or doesn't occur) in 2009. Also, there is a huge perception that Microsoft products get so many viruses because they are so popular. While only partially correct, people hold on to this like a religious belief. If we follow the implication of the opposite, then if the products have fewer security issues, it must mean that they are declining in popularity.
Microsoft's stock will continue to decline in 2009. The huge stock buy back plan Microsoft has had in place for 2008 has only slowed the decline. Many have suggested that Microsoft actually take on debt to continue the buy-back. The current financial situation makes this a less likely option. As Microsoft's stock drops though the teens, perception will cause a vicious circle.
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS THE PERSONAL OPINIONS OF THE AUTHOR ONLY.