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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking At Last Year's Predictions

Dr. Beverly Crusher From Star Trek TNG
It's time to take a look at some of the predictions I made around this time last year to see just what did or didn't come to pass. These were rather random in that they're not all directly about music or production, but they are related in some way. My comments are in italics on the bottom of each one. Here we go:

1) The end of the mechanical magnetic hard drive. I believe that 2011 will be the tipping point for the decline of the hard drive. In 2010 we saw most computer manufacturers offer solid state drives as options, but what's most telling is the fact that both internal and external hard drive prices are dropping like a rock (you can get a 2G drive for less than 80 bucks right now), which means that the drive manufacturers can see the writing on the wall. Just watch what happens in the new year as people discover the beauty of solid state memory.
I missed on this one, but perhaps the prediction was just a bit premature. It's true that solid state drives (SSD's) made a big penetration into the market in 2011, but I think the big growth will actually happen in 2012, thanks to the recent flooding in Thailand which knocked out all of the plants make traditional mechanical drives. Tried to buy a hard drive lately? They're about twice as much as they were, which now makes SSD's a reasonable alternative. The high storage capacities aren't there yet, but it will be all over once that happens, with SSDs in all of our gear forever.

2) The tablet really takes off and becomes the predominant computing device. And speaking of solid state memory, I think the time has come for the whole idea of a tablet as a computer. You know what convinced me? I was watching an episode of vintage Captain Picard Star Trek Next Generation the other night, and tablets played a big, yet subtle role. Everyone had one, they pass them back and forth to each other, and it's such a natural thing to have and use. So many of the most useful gadgets start out as elements of science fiction only to become reality when the technology catches up. Guess what, in the case of the tablet, it finally has. Watch as we leave our laptops behind.
I hit a home run on this one. Everyone who owns or uses a tablet computer (especially an iPad) doesn't know how they got along without one.

3) The connected TV will gain traction. I know, it's not looking too good right now, with Samsung's Google television looking like a bust and Apple TV selling well but not setting any records. But hear me out on this. The state of the cable set-top box is still seated so far in the 1990's that I'm honestly surprised that cable subscribers aren't rioting with pitchforks and Molotov cocktails outside the company headquarters. I'm on my fourth piece-of-crap box from "Un-Scientific Atlanta" that works so badly that they should be ashamed to even have it on the market. And the cable companies still treat any kind of interactivity as if it was some sort of science fiction. Wait a minute - it was - in 1979!! Believe me, people want their TV's to be connected. Just don't wait on the cable companies to figure it out though (that's a sure recipe for disaster). In 2011, someone (probably Apple) finally will.
Okay, this one didn't happen either, and even took a step backwards in 2011. That doesn't mean that TVs won't eventually be connected. All it will take is the rumored Apple Television (the iTV?) to hit the stores and our living rooms will change forever.

4) 3D will have a big impact on the music business. Wait, I can't believe I'm saying that. Up until yesterday I was firmly convinced that 3D was surround sound all over again; basically a parlor trick that would never make it, at least until you didn't need glasses to view it. Yesterday I had my mind opened up, blown, and to put it bluntly, totally changed (how often does that happen?). The whole trick with 3D is that it has to be done technically well (something that doesn't occur that often, it turns out), and the production and post-production methods have to have a totally different approach. Yes, I've seen the future and I'll report more in depth on it as the new year dawns next week.
Boy, I was way off with this. I still believe that 3D will be a boon for music as soon as people are exposed to it. The rumored Apple Television is supposedly 3D as is the next iPad, and that might have a big bearing when all this happens. Trust me on this one - 3D will change how we enjoy music!

So one prediction came true and the other 3 we'll still have to wait and see about. All in all, it just makes looking forward to our electronic future that much better.

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Perry A-Jones said...

Hey Bobbi,

Think you're right about the SSD. Right now it's simply a pricing issue, but it will definitely get there. They are SO much faster that it's a "must" to get rid of disks if you can afford it.

For #2, personally, I just don't get the tablet thing. We own an iPad2, and nobody but my 5 year old daughter uses it. Everything it does, I can do either on my Android phone, or notebook C (which I actually have 2 of - an HP envy that is pretty powerful, and a Lenovo x201T tablet which has battery life that matches the iPad, but also has real pen input like a Wacom artists tablet and uses much more powerful software. I can even edit in reaper if I need to in a pinch. Much better tablet for me.)

#3 - the problem is the cable providers and their mono or duopoly power in virtually every market. I use and recommend Directv if you HAVE to have network television (which my wife thinks we do). The interface is by far the most fluid and intuitive, the HD great, and the whole-house DVR is good. But most importantly, the pricing is good if you know how to deal with their customer service people: they bend over backwards to keep you on their network. It seems like the others I have dealt with (Comcast, Time Warner) simply don't care if you come or go, knowing you don't have many options. Directv customer service is good.

That all said, I really feel that Google TV is going to make large inroads this year after what what was largely a failed beta launch. They have some amazing ideas, but implementation was bad. In addition, the Roku line of boxes is really nice for the price. Apple TV has a nice interface, but for content delivery, I think the rental model is insulting. I also think it suffers from Apple's need for control. If I am going to pay for content like movies, I want to own it or have access to it for a longer duration, not just a couple days or weeks. I believe that Siri is simply a means of Apple bettering their voice recognition systems and will likely implement voice control in any Apple television that may come to the market. Microsoft is doing very interesting things with its Kinect voice controls that I believe Apple is going to be modeling.

#4 is where you and I diverge. I find 3D to be a huge gimmick that is already tiring on the big screen and in the home due to a failure of current 3D technology. Until true glasses-less 3D or holographic tech is more evolved, I just don't see it catching hold. 3D TVs and content have shown to sell OK, but users claim they essentially never use the 3D function past the 3 month mark when the novelty wears off. People just don't want to wear clunky glasses or have funky off-center viewing. So, unless glasses-less 3D makes huge technical inroads in the next year at an affordable price, I don't see that one happening.

In any event, I will give you 2 out of 4 on the year. ;)


Bobby Owsinski said...

Hey Anxious,

It took me a while to get a feel for the iPad too and I still don't use it as much as I see other people use it. But I know a lot of Hollywood pros who are totally passionate about it.

Agree with you on the cable providers. The sooner they switch to a la cart, the better.

Re: 3D - I guarantee that you haven't seen really great 3D yet, as 95% of it out there is crap. It's a life altering experience when you do.

Perry A-Jones said...

You could be totally correct about the 3D. I did see Avatar in Imax 3D and thought that while it was impressive, it's not something I want to experience regularly.

Perhaps Peter Jackson will change that with the Hobbit and those Amazing Red camera rigs he is shooting with.


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