The year is only getting started and if we have our way, it will be among the most exciting years we've ever seen.
We've completed our very own Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software suite - "Sovereign" as it is called internally. Ten years worth of work and we finally have a product that makes an ERP available for small and medium sized businesses. We've baked in project management, resource planning, mapping, charting, Decision Control Panels, financials, HR, CRM, and much more to a product that easily integrates with messaging systems, IP telephony and rights management systems. Sovereign, added to our custom built hardware, managed networks and the services we host for customers, completes our Hardware + Software + Services model and Value-Plus strategy. We stayed on this vision for over a decade and we're confident that it will pay off for our customers.
ERP software aside, there is just so much more to look forward to this year.
I wanted to take a few moments to share what I see in my crystal ball... not that it is any clearer than any other...
Convergence will continue to push software into everything. High Definition is not enough and product differentiation will see HDTV's and other display panels get a lot brainier - panels will have built in clients and interfaces supporting connections to down-loadable content stores as well as native Windows Media Center Extenders.
Display panels will also lose their wires and begin to feature Ultra-Wide band interfaces - making them not only great clients, but great hosts and we'll see the first panels that can store content for wireless distribution to other small panels.
Logitech (I hope) will come up with a platform that uses good software to distribute high-resolution pictures, video and music to
intelligent brilliant picture frames.
Logitech's WiLife line of small office and home video surveillance systems will take off in a huge way, and home control devices and equally smart software will follow quickly.
Microsoft will ship both an add-on Blu-Ray disc player and a new Xbox 360 version that features both Blu-Ray and a special software package designed especially for home media enthusiasts. While thew new "Xbox Media Station" (My guess, and not any official name) can play games, its focus will be on entertainment - HD Movies, TV, On-line Content (Podcasts, Streaming Media) and as a client for Zune owners and the Zune Marketplace. It may even be a full on IPTV client (again, a guess and a hope).
Microsoft will also ship a new Xbox "Slot" device - an Xbox on a card that OEM's can use to integrate with PC's and provide for integration of the Xbox to the PC in either a hardware virtualization supported play, or by software virtualization alone (once again, a sincere hope).
At a minimum, Microsoft will remove the barriers between the Xbox and Games for Windows and rejuvenate gaming on the PC one way or another (this is a prayer as much as a hope)
Thin will be way in. Apple was right and the Macbook Air is on the right path - although others like ASUS and Toshiba will do it better. Light, thin, second client PC's will become very popular.
That is about all Apple will get right this year. Apple has peaked and people are sick of the snark. The term,"Snark Attack" will become popularized, as a sub-set of our society expresses its frustration with Apple and its special way of branding products at the expense of others. Apple will release new iPods (so what), but the sleeper ride in the room is the Zune II. With its all you can eat buffet of growing content, it'll quickly eat up Apple market share in the higher end of the DMP space.
Apple's iTunes is already dead as we know it. The rules are changing and subscription based content will cut deeply into Apple. Apple will have a very hard time mending fences with content owners and distributors. The Apple TV II is too little, too late and Apple will suffer for it.
Apple's OS X will do alright throughout most of the year, but will end up the subject of a lot of security issues by Christmas. Security software for OS X will become quite popular.
The iPhone II will ship in November (without Exchange support) and fail against a dizzying array of competing products it inspired that do have native support for Exchange. Apple's refusal to license ActiveSync will be the undoing of the iPhone (Pure speculation - as I have no idea why Apple can't seem to get Exchange support).
Sony and the PS3 will receive a real bump, and as Paul Thurrott correctly opined, in the end, the PS3 will triumph over all. It will be well on its way by year's end, but it will not execute as well as Microsoft will with the 360. Both players will be great choices for gaming and entertainment and in the end, Sony may prevail - after all.... it has proved it can buy content owners' loyalty and libraries, or leverage that which it owns outright. In this space, content will be king.
Windows Vista will prove to be very resilient to any form of attack. As numbers supporting actual exploits (or the lack of them, as it will be shown) are published, enterprises will line up to adopt the new OS. By year's end, Windows Vista will be warmly embraced as a very secure platform member and respect for it will grow exponentially. Enterprises will then speak to Vista's other great strength, lower operating costs and ease of deployment and manageability, and more than one CIO will find him/herself answering some tough questions presented by those counting beans.
PAN's or Personal Area Networks and Windows Vista's NW stack will become popular blogging topics - as personal networks of securable objects transform our understanding of what a PAN is (read, not a Bluetooth based PAN, but something much more significant). Essentially, not just data, but personal and business intelligence, will begin to come with us and as one's PAN overlaps with the PAN's of others, we'll see some amazing work done in software that begins to hint of the world our kids and grandkids will take for granted. We'll all become "social" and information and finalized intelligence product will be all around us - bugging us with ads on one hand and informing and entertaining us with the other.
Cable and Satellite providers will scramble for dance partners and the lines between telco's and media carriers will blur. The FCC and federal regulators won't be able to keep up and both legislators and lawyers will scrape off more than their share of the profits - as they side-step the losses.
Google's share price will crater. The one-trick pony has no song and dance and not a dog is to be seen for the pony to play with. Headlines like, "What went wrong?" will be all over the web and no one will be happy about it at all... having just barely dodged a recession in the U.S., the Google Bubble bursting will not be celebrated by anyone - not even Microsoft.
Revision3 will fail - as traditional content carriers with better production facilities finally figure out that they can plug into the Internet, too. Leo Laporte and his entire line-up of Twit programming will be the catalyst and provide the content and leadership for the carriers with the brains and balls to see it happen. Some Revision3 faces will appear on those networks. Leo won't be magnanimous in victory - and he shouldn't be.
John Dvorak will retire and write children's books and prove he can be as sweet as he can be cynical. (this one I actually believe).
The EU and its anti-
US-trust arm will continue to suck blood out of U.S. and European companies. If any one company succeeds in any way at all, it will be subject to the anti-trust TAX. It is a TAX - make no mistake about it.
One day our grandkids will look back at all of it and all of us and ask, "WTF? How did you live like that?"