Every year, the smartest minds in the country get together and forecast what we’ll see in the next 12 months. All I’m saying is, there’s no one who could have guessed what we’d see in 2016, and personally I hope the coming year is much, much calmer. We had exploding phones and security issues and changes both big and small… and it hasn’t all been fun and games.
I’m going to take a stab at what we’ll see in 2017 and then at the end of the year we’ll all look back at this article and talk about how wrong I was. Won’t that be fun?
DIRECTV: One box to rule them all
Here’s a rumor that I’ve been hearing over and over again: There will be a new DVR that accepts both U-Verse and DIRECTV satellite signals. I’d say it’s possible, but it seems to me like a waste of money. It would make more sense to find a way to replace the network terminal used by older U-Verse installations so it output a DIRECTV-compatible signal. But certainly there have been too many rumors of new hardware to ignore, and DIRECTV hardware is due for a refresh for sure.
Net neutrality? What’s that?
I think we have to admit at this point that the net neutrality rules we have now are a failure. Major carriers just seem to make up their own rules for what they can “zero rate” and that means that they’re not truly being neutral. With new FCC commissioners coming in, I have a feeling that we’ll either see a major change to the policy or we’ll see it go away completely. It’s hard to know for sure. The incoming administration promises that they want free and fair competition, but they also want to eliminate regulations. It should be interesting to see how those two things mesh.
No more public Wi-Fi.
OK, maybe that’s putting it a bit harshly but I do think that outside of your local Starbucks you’re not going to find a lot of free Wi-Fi access points. In the 2000s it was a great service to offer but today everyone can get much faster service without Wi-Fi. You’re not going to find a lot of places advertising free Wi-Fi unless the local cell service is poor.
The end of the “tyranny of the mouse.”
For thirty years, the mouse has defined the way we interact with desktop computers. Touchscreens have been slow to penetrate the office, and for a good reason — they’re not really suited to it. Yet, I think in the coming year we’re going to see fewer people using mice in the office. We’ll see more desktop trackpads, as people as more comfortable with that technology, and perhaps even small tablets being used as trackpads. Microsoft’s Surface Dial is an interesting way for creative people to interact, and it seems like pens are actually getting stronger every year as well. Don’t expect the mouse to be the only way you compute anymore.
Broadcast apocalypse? I’m beginning to wonder.
I’ve been talking about it for a few years… the combination of the FCC’s reverse auction and growing on demand could mean that up to 75% of your channels disappear in 2017. Yet, I’m less confident than I was 12 months ago. The FCC hasn’t had as many takers as they need and broadcasters seem confident that they’ll be able to keep making money from the airwaves. At the same time, with no new 4K channels being announced, there’s plenty of satellite capacity out there (remember cable TV uses satellites for distribution too.) So there’s no need for poor-performing channels to get out of the way. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s still at least 12 more months before channels start folding left and right. I still think it will happen though.
Routers get smaller again
This seems to be a cycle. Routers get smaller, people complain about performance, routers get bigger, people complain about size. Still, with 802.11ac networking, you get strong broadcast power and great range, so I predict that smaller routers will once again come in and rule the day. An 802.11ac signal from a small router is stronger than an 802.11n signal from a large one.
Someone gets killed by a commercial drone.
Obviously I’m not rooting for this, but with drones getting more and more common for photography and video, I project that at some point one of these will fall from the sky and kill someone. The newer drones are bigger and heavier than ever. It will be a mistake — even though people are actually mounting weapons on drones I don’t think we’ll see a high-profile drone hit job (yet.) But expect to see a lot more drones and sooner or later one of them is going to get in a fatal accident.
Well, that’s about all I can think of. What do you think will happen in the coming year?