As the year comes to a close, everyone is posting predictions about the new year as well as reviewing their predictions from the prior year. Here at Regular Geek, I would like to look at the trends to determine what changed things and what trends we should watch in the coming year, not as predictions but more as an idea of things to look for.

Last year, I wrote about the following trends, with some new comments in italics.

  • Mobile Computing: People thought mobile computing was big with the advent of smartphones. With the addition of tablets like the iPad, mobile computing got a big screen to play with. As we have seen this past year, mobile computing is definitely exploding, and is likely going to become the dominant platform for non-business usage.
  • Tablets everywhere: Not only are tablets gaining a lot of acceptance, they have mostly replaced netbooks as the “smaller than a laptop” device. As the prices drop, expect to see dedicated eReaders convert into tablets similar to what the Nook is doing. Granted, this was an obvious trend and we have seen the recent release of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. More tablets are being released every month, but not many have been successful. Pricing is the biggest obstacle, which the Fire and Nook are trying to avoid.
  • HTML5: HTML5 gets included because it has such different capabilities than web sites currently have. There is huge potential with this technology and it can also blur the lines of web site and desktop or mobile application. HTML5 video is already replacing flash for many sites. With browser support increasing for all parts of HTML5, we will start to see more interesting applications. It has also become the cross-platform language of choice for mobile applications, which given the drive towards mobile, is very important.
  • Instant information: This is the extension of my semantic web prediction from last year. As linked data and geo data become more standardized, more applications will include augmented reality-like functionality. Once acceptance of linked data and geo data is more mainstream, other data silos will follow. This trend has not really gotten started yet. We are closer to having more information at our fingertips, but 2012 will probably be the year for this trend.
  • Always On: We thought people were always connected before, but the technologies are finally getting to minority report levels. We have the Kinect and other gesture-based interfaces, near field communication to enable proximity computing, and everything is being integrated with social networks. Gesture-based interfaces are being pushed more, and with the mobile growth our connectivity has definitely increased. Now, this combines with the “instant information” trend to move into the augmented reality space.
  • A Massive Data Startup: The one prediction I will make is that some data startup will become huge. We have some players already in Gnip and DataSift, but 2011 is really the year of data and one company will have massive growth. This is the one trend that really seems to need another year to become as large as I suspected. Gnip and DataSift are doing well and maybe I am underestimating what they have done in the past year.

Now that we have reviewed last year’s trends, what trends should we watch in 2012? One important note about these trends is that mobile computing is driving almost everything.

  • Mobile and Social Commerce: We have only seen the tip of mobile commerce. Next year should be interesting as we see more in-store mobile deals, price comparison shopping and augmented reality focusing on ecommerce. The social aspect will not be in recommendations, but more stores on social networks and the general integration of social networks with ecommerce stores. The one problem here is that someone’s digital wallet will be hacked.
  • Digital Health Startups: With the rise of mobile devices, we can capture more data in more places. Carrying your medical history and a digital archive of your daily activity and food intake can change the way the health and medicine industries work.
  • Big Data Usability: In the past few years, we have seen the rise of NoSQL tools but they are in the realm of the developer. 2012 will be focused on capturing and using the data in much easier ways. How about point and click building of a data capture process and some simple tools for analyzing the data?
  • The Rise of HTML5: 2011 only showed part of what is possible with HTML5. This is so important that it gets a spot this year as well as last year. HTML5 is changing the way web applications are built, including mobile. So, yes it is that big.
  • People Talk About Augmented Reality Again: Augmented reality applications were too early when they were released the first time. They launched before smartphones really exploded and tablets barely existed. Now, mobile is everywhere, data speeds are getting better and we have more information readily available. Part of this is made possible by linked data initiatives and the availability of social information.
  • Digital Identity: Let’s face it, your digital identity is either your Facebook or Google profile. It has come to the point where most of the internet will require one of these two logins in order to use a service. Obviously, this is both good and bad, and bloggers will focus on the bad parts, obviously.
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