NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, February 2006
Fearless Forecasts for 2006
by Rick Altman, Altman Digital Communications

I want a piece of the action. I want the opportunity to make embarrassing predictions, be ridiculed by our peers, and live in shame until next January. Here, therefore, is our annual contribution to the landscape of bold, prophetic statements that will surely come back to haunt us...

1. Microsoft has trouble with Office 12
The new version of Microsoft Office will not be plagued with bugs or security vulnerabilities. It will install without incident and run with acceptable or better performance on a majority of Windows boxes. The pundits will laud it and we commentators will speak of how the new interface will greatly improve productivity through all of the applications.

But the public will not embrace it. More set in their ways than any other type of PC user, daily users of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint have spent the past 48 to 60 months likening these apps to their toasters or microwave ovens: not every task is easy, but the mechanics of using the appliance is a no-brainer. That will not be the case at first with the freshly-designed Office 12, and many will find themselves retreating to Office 03 to get today's project out the door "until I have time to sit and play with it." We all know when that time comes -- December 32.

Consequently, Microsoft will consider a compatibility mode to keep the new Office from becoming shelfware.

2. Corel products trade places
The Corel Graphics Suite (aka CorelDraw and PhotoPaint) will play to increasingly narrow niche markets, but Paint Shop Pro will hit its stride. It will become the most prominent alternative to Adobe Photoshop and work its way into more and more bundles with digital camera manufacturers.

PhotoPaint will begin to lose its identity and Corel officials will talk seriously about moving PSP into the CGS bundle.

3. Two lenses are better than one
The CES show in early January scooped me on this one: cameras with two lenses. Kodak debuted this at CES with a single 5MP sensor being mated to a pair of lenses, one fixed at 23mm and the other a 37-117mm zoom. My prediction was going to be that this would appear in 2006; now we will forecast that it will become commonplace this year.

4. Hand-held movies in high-resolution?
iPod devotees already speak of watching movies in their hands, but it is not my contention that you will ever watch feature-length movies on your iPod or mobile phone and actually enjoy it. We're getting closer, though: the digital videos that we create at our PhotosToMemories web site will all play quite well on video-enabled handhelds, only requiring about 30MB apiece.

But that's not the same as watching a two-hour movie on your phone, and we know it. Technology cannot create comfort or compensate for lack of same, but there is no reason why your phone cannot be the movie player. A two-hour movie can be delivered in satisfactory 4:3 resolution in about 2GB and many phones, music players, and Palm devices can routinely accept a file of that size. What we will see in 2006 is the wide-spread support for those devices to connect directly to a television for playback.

5. Batteries...oy vey...
Whenever Prediction No. 3 becomes a reality, this one will be about six weeks behind: Batteries for handhelds will need to be about twice as good as they are now. Or the entire industry goes to hell!

6. Wither TiVo
Perhaps the most painful prediction in multimedia for 2006 will be our beloved TiVo, which will continue to fight to gain traction...and lose the battle. TiVo will become a technology, not a product, and those of us who bought in back in 2000 will be traumatized. For about a day...read on...

7. Television...directly to your PC
The networks will deliver us from our trauma by offering services whereby you can subscribe to a television show and have it automatically download to your PC, with no restrictions or DRM issues. With relatively simple software, and more notably cooperation from the networks at a level not seen before, entirely new life will be breathed into the Windows Media Edition and to PCs billing themselves as media centers.

Before the year is over, I will walk into a house that I have never been in before, take out my mobile phone and wirelessly play a network broadcast on the television there.

8. Every company will see the light...
...and train all of its employees so that nobody delivers obnoxious and annoying presentations and commits Death by PowerPoint ever again.

Well, seven out of eight won't be too bad.

Copyright 2006, All rights reserved. R. Altman & Associates. http://www.altman.com. Article reproduction coordinated by Steve Bass, author of PC Annoyances Second Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things about Your Personal Computer, O’Reilly Press. http://snurl.com/annoyed2 §

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