With CES nearly upon on (the intrepid TrustedReview team flies out today) and Mobile World Congress next month the technology landscape hits the ground running every year. So who is likely to make the winners circles in 2012 and who will wish the Mayan prediction was actually true? Let's break down our four major categories:
TVs & Entertainment
2012 looks set to be the year television gets a much needed shake-up. We railed against the Idiocy of Smart TVs in January last year and in 2012 these fragmented, unintuitive devices look set to make way to the same mobile platforms which have dominated smartphones. The big news is the rumoured Apple television, but this has a Q4 timeframe and remains vapourware until we hear more. Until then expansion of the Apple TV media player will be crucial. Much like iPods are gateways to iPhones, the Apple TV is a cheap access point to iOS and potentially an Apple television and App Store access is surely inevitable. Siri voice control and using iOS devices as touchscreen remotes seem obvious future attributes as well.
As a unified platform Google and Android won't be far behind with interest in Google TV again rising. Both Google and Apple are rumoured to be interested in bidding for Premier League TV rights too and their app store video content already provides a mass of on-demand content. As with smartphones it seems their platforms hold the key to television's evolution with only Microsoft's united phone, PC and Xbox infrastructure likely to represent a challenge.
As such the losers could well be everyone else, at least by 2013. Hardware makers like Sony, Samsung and LG – already Android handset partners – are set to adopt a similar manufacturing only role over time (plus the inevitable third party Google TV skins). This isn't to say these companies lose out financially, but their control over the sector certainly hands over to the platform makers while they squabble over hardware differentiators such as the impending clamour for OLED and glasses-free 3D. Likewise Sky's vice-like grip on broadcast content seems only to have a shelf life for as long as it takes the UK time to attain ubiquitous high speed Internet connections.
Winners: Apple, Google, maybe Microsoft
Losers: Traditional TV manufacturers as hardware margins squeeze & platforms unify