The Mercury News published its predictions for the Top 10 Tech Trends for 2006 today. It’s a broad list that covers some areas I know something about and some I don’t.
WiFi expanding seems like a sure thing. The big hurdle will be city-wide wifi, which would level the playing field and free us from Starbucks, McDonalds and price gouging hotels. Here in Texas the phone companies are trying to get the legislature to prohibit municipal wifi. Hopefully they will not be successful. If ever there was a bill that should result in an immediate cleaning house (and senate), that would be it. If municipal wifi gets legs, it could be the story of 2006.
Internet phone calls may be a trend, but someone has to convince millions of people like me that if we dial 911 on VOIP, someone will answer who can help and knows where we’re calling from. There are often no mulligans when it comes to a 911 call, so creating certainty in the minds of the masses will be critical to the trend-ablility of internet phone service. Otherwise it will be a utility for a few and a toy for many.
Video blogging seems like a good bet too. I suspect video blogging will become a complimentary feature to a blog (much like a podcast is now), as opposed to a substitute.
I’m a bit mixed on office moving to the web. Yes, Microsoft Office will be more “web like,” which is a very good thing, but no major corporation (and certainly no law or accounting firm) is going to allow mass storage of documents online for two reasons: one, liability; two, the fear of a bad decision (“if it’s always been done this way and I keep doing it this way, I’m not responsible if it doesn’t work; but if I change how it’s done and it doesn’t work, I’m toast”- I’ve actually had clients say this very thing to me before on more than one occasion).
I hope clean technology is a trend, but unfortunately the environment loses to the almighty dollar like the Generals lose to the Globetrotters.
I agree with Frank Gruber that RSS will also be a trend for the reasons I have already mentioned. RSS and the open-source movement are creating some incredible technology, and this trend is in its infancy. A lot of the great technology in 2006 and beyond will come from the cyber-garages that brought us Firefox and all of its extensions and add-ons. If I was trend hunting, that’s where I’d start.