Predictions for 2007

January 03, 2007 at 01:45 PM | categories: python, oldblog | View Comments

Some people started talking about predictions for 2007, so I decided to come up with some. These won't be in the RSS feed to avoid spamming various aggregators. Feedback and comments welcome :-) Topics covered: Digital Switchover, PS3, DRM, Linux, Windows, Microsoft, Apple, The Web, Politics, Environment, International, Media, Fashion, Gadgets, Predictions. As you might guess from the list, not all of this is entirely serious :)

Digital Switchover

At the end of 2007 we'll start seeing an increase in advertising saying TVs are "freeview", "top up TV" or "digital ready". The reason for this is because it will be the last Christmas before digital switchover in the UK begins - starting with the Border region in the latter half of 2008, and there's often a spike in electrical goodies being sold near Christmas (obviously).

Though I expect a magazine to put a DVB reciever as a freebie on the cover of a magazine (much like you can get digitally tuned radios on magazine covers these days and have done for over a year or two), I doubt that'll happen next year. (I'd give that 3 years or so)


The PS3 will be released in the UK, to a feeding frenzy, followed initially by disappointment, and the XBox 360 viewed as generally better. By the end of the year though this trend will be reversed. The 60GB model becomes the default model by the end of the year. Sony (or one of their game developers) release game for christmas based on visual object tracking - ie technology wise much like a much higher res version of the Eye toy, but with Wii like playability.


DRM will still be with us at the end of the year. Legalisation of ripping CD's for personal use will happen, but the tightening around the law on DRM will end up preventing this in practice. A workaround will be put in place (to meet legislation), but it will be cumbersone, manual, and probably charged for preventing people wanting to use such a service. Making us effectively worse off, causing problems politically  in 2-3 years time.

It's easily possible a major service or record label will go with a DRM free approach to music distribution.


People will still be asking "is linux ready for the desktop". For many people who have been using Linux as their desktop for many years will be bored of hearing this. People with distros not focussed on making a usable desktop will continue to claim "no". Reality will continue to be somewhere in between.

Ubuntu will continue making inroads towards their goal of a desktop more userfriendly than a Mac.

More companies like System 76 ( will crop up making this aim more and more realistic, including one inside the UK.


People will start asking "is my desktop ready for windows vista?". They will conclude "no", and be much slower on the uptake than anticipated (Microsoft will still make a mint).


Microsoft will make a major release of something as open source, though not as GPL. They've dabbled with a few things over the past few years, and some of their redefined licenses in 2005 largely meets the OSI definition. Having chatted to people at OSCON, and seen attitudes at Foo Camp, I'd be suprised if they didn't release something as open source, perhaps something they don't actually sell.


This is Apple's 30th anniversary. They have multitouch technology as people have already mentioned, however, I doubt they would "merely" release something as mundane as a tablet PC with multitouch. Aside from anything else, a keyboard is still significantly more accurate than handwriting recognition, and voice recognition is not sufficiently reliable to get Steve Jobs' blessing.

What I *do* expect is a high end system where the large scale cinema display is replaced by a multitouch display on a pivot arm (much like the iMac a couple of years ago). I also expect them to unveil something more OTT for use in media production - specifically an edit suite based on surround-video ideas.  (this is due to Steve Jobs relationship with Pixar, who could make great use of such a system I suspect)
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I also suspect that they'll also debut a (real) minority report style display as a stunt for such a system. (This is tricky, but one way translucent glass provides a possibility here)

This might seem OTT, but Steve Jobs debuted the Apple Mac in 1984 when the common state of the art home computer was Sinclair Spectrum 128/Commodore 128.

If I lived in the US, I'd watch the superbowl ads this year very carefully. I expect Apple will have an "answer"/"reply" to Vista. (they might not, but it's a rivalry that's been interesting to watch for a very many years now :)

The Web

OpenID will take off. Trusted identity vendors building on Open ID will also emerge, as will trust metrics.

The need for a working *lightweight* semantic web will continue to emerge as a necessity, and many more new services based around scraping sites into the "right" format to work will spring up. (eg more sites like those in the US that scrape timetables to create unified travel plan sites)

The web will continue to become more personal. The two trends of web 2.0 (socially enhanced websites & increased use of application style websites) will continue to diverge. Somebody will name these two different uses, making it such that we can move on to a better name. (I suppose you could say the term will get forked)

There will also be a continued trend to push web applications offline. Specifically some form of Web Operating System will be released.

By Web OS I'm rather specific. I'm not thinking of things like You OS - that's "merely" an operating environment for running web applications from one site inside a browser. I'm more coming at this from the perspective of one of the definitions of an PC operating system.

For a PC an operating system is a set of abstractions that are co-ordinated centrally that provides applications with a richer set of abstractions for making use of the hardware, normally in such a way that allows those facilities to be shared by applications being run.

ie on a PC, the OS makes it simple for you to use the hardware to display a picture, play a sound, record some audio, etc, without directly using that facility. In a web environment this should be more about making the facilities that exist today on the web (and making it easier in future) to be made available in a way the user wants.

Why can't I *directly* link the facilities provided by Gmail, flickr & delicious to create a richer application composed of those three easily, without having to code the metal (the raw APIs of each) as it were?

Parakey is one such thing, but others will emerge, perhaps before parakey. Best description of parakey: . Parakey will have the advantage of a known name behind it. (Blake Ross - the firefox kid)

Atom pub/sub & Jabber will grow in importance as a result, and RSS will be retrofitted to fit in with this.

People will be driven absolutely barmy by popup layers. Death by video adverts and dozens of flash objects on multiple tabs will drive up demand for faster CPUs.

Someone will recognise that there is a massive untapped online market - teenagers without credit cards who want to buy things their parents wouldn't approve of, and provide a purchasing mechanism that works for them. Splash Plastic - - looks pretty good, but the fees are quite high. Charging the retailer seems more reasonable and sensible approach (since then the charge is absorbed at point of sale, rather than at transfer of funds). (much like some retailers accept paypal for payment)


The continuing saga of Blair/Brown will be resolved. Blair will step down, there will be a leadership challenge, and if Brown gets in it will be by a considerably lower margin than anticipated. If the faces change but the policies don't, one of the other two parties will gain in the polls dramatically. To mitigate this, there may be a suprise mid-term election immediately after the leadership change (Historically such a thing is incredibly risky, but can pay off quite amazingly well).


As fuel bills go through the roof, there will be pressure to reduce taxation on fuel, simply to keep sufficient funds in the economy. This will hit public services doubly - due to lower funding and increased bills (everyone gets hit by energy charges). A side effect of this is that the housing market will slow down by the end of the year, or possibly pop (though I'd expect that in 2008 especially if immigration controls become effective in 2007).  In the pre-budget report, further "green" measures will be introduced, along with something which will be considered radical. Bio-fuel will become economically viable.

There will be at least 3 major environmental catastrophes, freak weather will continue with no snow in place like Moscow until January 2008 (for the 2007/2008 winter). Freak high winds will cause major damage in the UK - probably to a wind farm (sod's law principle). The number of storm surges in the north sea will increase, making people start getting worried about the thames flood barrier.

B&Q will start selling a second generation of green energy products  - ie solar panels and wind turbines after modest but limited success with their first range.

A major political party will align with the green party (faith in human nature principle), and if there is a flash election, win votes as a result.

People will start questioning the environmental efficiency of download services that take all night to download, and require you to leave your PC on all the time, and similar concerns over Media PCs will start to be raised. Nothing will be done about it in 2007 though.


Iraq will be a greater mess at the end of the year than the beginning - whether or not external countries remain there.

China's ascendancy (as predicted by Cordwainer Smith over 50 years ago) will continue to grow as an apparently unstoppable force. The likely dynamic of the 21st century of China/India being the world's new superpowers replacing the 20th century surpremacy of East/West will become more apparent. (in the same way the East/West dynamic replaced the British Empire vs Germanic dynamic of the 19th century).

Britain will form a "special relationship"/alliance with India, probably sometime near the end of 2007. Hong Kong is a wild card that may play out in an interesting way.

Terrorism will continue to be used as a major source to generate fear (founded or otherwise) , as a means to push through unsavory measures.

Malta will win Eurovision.


Harry Potter & The Deadly Hallows will be delayed and not arrive in 2007. 

There will be a blockbuster film curveball that no-one expected produced on pennies in comparison to films of its genre.

International talk like a pirate day will grow, dramatically, in popularity.

Nanowrimo will result in one readable novel.

Local newspapers will start their own ultralocal online (video) news channels/bulletins and perhaps partner with someone to centrally syndicate this. Either a large broadcaster or large newspaper.

A major print newspaper will start and actively promote an online video news channel.


Oliver Stone was right - see Wild Palms for next year's men's fashions, and predictions of the state of the US (getting scarily close as we get closer to 2008).

Women's coats next year will have small buttons (They had HUGE buttons this year)

Rather than "shiny brushed metal" for gadgets next year's theme will be wood/woodland/organic.


e-Ink will be touted repeatedly given there are new products on the market now. However, until someone takes 100 sheets of flexible e-ink paper, puts on a spine or spiral bound and makes it USB enabled (for reprogramming the text) it won't take off. If someone does this in 2007, it will sell like hotcakes no matter how much it costs.

The full Optimus OLED keyboard will arrive finally. Probably in late December 2007, unless it's licensed by Apple first. If apple license it, it will probably end up as the keyboard of a laptop.


All of the above are likely to be wrong, and I'll be told in detail why beforehand :)

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