When TechMan was a TechTeen he used to have a Magic 8-Ball. The small black ball with a window was touted as being able to tell the future.
You'd turn the window down and ask a question. When you turned the window up an answer would appear.
The Magic 8-Ball is decidedly low-tech. Inside is a white, plastic, iscosahedron floating in a dark blue liquid. Each of the 20 faces of the die has an affirmative, negative, or noncommittal statement printed on it in raised letters, such as "Don't count on it," or "Outlook is good."
When the ball is turned over and the die floats to the top and one of its faces is pressed against the window, the raised letters displace the blue liquid to reveal the message.
Nowadays, of course, we have a modern way of querying the future and getting an answer that may or may not be true. It is called the Internet.
So to make his predictions for 2009, TechMan turns to the modern Magic 8-Ball.
Devices will continue to merge. Of course the best example of this is the smartphone, which merges the phone, camera, MP3 player, GPS device and personal digital assistant.
The coming year will see the further merger of the still camera and the video camera. Of course even phone cameras can take video, but it's nothing you'd want to watch on a screen bigger than a cellphone's. New high-end digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras have begun to come out, such as the one made by Canon. These cameras have pixels in the teens for still shooting and can shoot and store high-definition video. Although they are expensive, look for the price to go down and more cameras to make still pictures and high quality video.
The price and size of solid state (flash) memory will continue to improve and it will begin to replace hard drives. USB flash drives and memory cards will continue to get roomier and cheaper. But as solid state memory advances, it will become the sole memory in many computers.
The Apple Air and some Netbooks already offer this. Solid state memory is more reliable and faster than hard drive memory and falling price and increasing capacity will put it in more and more machines. Some also may have hybrid memory combining a hard drive with flash memory. Hard drives will still be common and will continue to push past 1 Tb in capacity.
Some of the myriad video sites and social networking sites on the Internet won't survive a protracted recession. However this dot.com bust will be less disruptive because few of these sites are publicly held companies. Expect to see some big-name sites give up the ghost.
Chips will get faster and have more cores. This is an easy one. Intel has already announced its new Corei7 chip, and AMD will debut its new Phenom II processors in January. With quad core chips becoming somewhat common and eight-core chips available in high-end Macs, look for the core wars to continue.
We could begin to see USB 3.0 hardware toward the end of 2009, making transfer of large files like video much quicker. The final specification for USB 3.0, which can be up to 10 times faster than the current USB 2.0, was released in November.
And the of course Windows 7 and Apple's new version of OS X called Snow Leopard are coming down the pike. Both will be able to utilize multiple cores.
So those are TechMan's predictions. Now, Magic 8-Ball, will they come true? "Outlook is good."