Staring deep into their well-diversified, value-added crystal ball, the staff of the Economist has pulled out three well-reasoned visions of what 2008 will bring. Contrary to expectations, the article predicts that internet surfing speeds will slow this coming year. Bandwidth-hungry user-generated content and chatter from increasingly ubiquitous personal WiFi devices could end up making all your favorite websites much slower. If this happens, I predict that marketing the slowdown as “retro speed” or “dial-up throwbacks” won’t go over well with the public.
The article also forsees a highly valued section of the wireless spectrum known as the 700 megahertz band helping the internet shed its tethers and increase open access. The band, newly liberated by analog television’s demise, is currently being auctioned off, and open-access advocate Google could bid $5 billion or more to buy it.
Finally, longtime advocates (and beneficiaries) of closed, proprietary technology might be forced to turn on their heels if they have any hope of surviving. New, open-source technologies are poised to upend the tech market in the coming year. If they don’t adapt quickly, even Microsoft and Apple could fall victim to the open-sourced Linux penguin and his little friends.