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The New year… the things that I am keeping on eye on…

2009/01/02

First off, Happy New Year… this is going to be a wild year so, HANG ON.
Second off, let’s not have any illusions here due to a lot of the bubbly… 2009 has the potential to be VERY, VERY nasty. The global economy is in a very bad state, and due to that… I see a lot of people begin to suffer. You wonder why many government have some welfare structure, well… we are about to find out WHY.
That said, this may be the first year in my life time were I see the world population being unorthodox on a massive scale. This will prove to be interesting depending on how far it does go.

In electronics media, things haven’t started to hit the fan yet… but it’s coming. The BIG loser in all of this is Sony’s Blu-ray format. It NEEDS to continue to deprecate in value… but simply put that will not happen if you want of need to get it to function with the latest DRM spec. And it still has a big hole in the need for updates to get that add functionality… in a cost cutting world like this, DVD is still king of media formats and the siren call to breath some life into HD-DVD is growing (it was the cheaper of the two). In either case, physical media is seemingly going the way of the dodo… and Sony’s big fight is not with DVD or an unlikely HD-DVD come back, but with digital distribution schemes (Oh, I have a bone to pick with this in a minute) that are slowly taking over how we watch/listen to media.

The biggest winner I foresee in the year is DD (said digital distribution schemes), but there is ONE condition to that. In the year that follows, consumers and distributors really need to be on the same page on if media through DD is the same as media on a DVD/Blu-ray/CD. If that is not the case (and currently that is the way that it looks), expect market to bottom out once consumers take notice of the Emperor with no clothes. That said, DD really needs to do nothing more for massive gains and LOTS of money… recession be damned, they are just that grand.

In gaming, this is seeming familiar… the biggest loser I foresee is Sony’s PS3. If anything that doesn’t have much to do with the power of system, and has a lot more to do with Sony seeming instance on shooting themselves in the foot with SKU’s and backwards compatibility, Blu-rays value simply no going down fast enough to warren a MASSIVE and NEEDED price drop in this economy environment, and Sony’s continued instance on angering developers since it release. The developers is really going to be the final nail to it, most aren’t happy with PS3 developments, the SKU thing is really going to bite at them if they want to just drop back to PS2 development, and really, there are more 360 and Wii owners out there… all this really does is keep developers interests else where and continues to drag Sony into a spot that was previously reserved for Nintendo. If Sony can reverse this, all is good… but as it stands… this is going to be a NIGHTMARE year for the company in all aspects, and in consoles the beating will be bloody .

The winners for the new year… is a tie. Microsoft’s 360 and Nintendo’s Wii… BUT!
Ok, in both cases it’s really not a matter of price, through Nintendo might want to consider a price drop in this economy. But that is not my big condition to a WIN, in fact the conditions a little different considering the platforms.
First let’s start with the elephant in the room (HI Nintendo)…. THE Wii, and it’s lagging third party development. There are signs that this might improve this year and that is good, but simply put Nintendo needs more… A LOT more, when you consider that now three years into the system’s lifespan and it’s STILL hard to find. The game to watch this year is MADWORLD, if that takes off watch the copies come out of the woodwork… much like GTA 3. Even if that doesn’t happen, Nintendo does need to attract more and more developers lest they move to second place as unlikely as that does seem currently. Really, it’s going to take a rather daring developer to do a lot with Nintendo Wii with it’s power (which when compared to the 360 and PS3 is a flash in the pan), but it something that is begin to happen in spades for the company… for them is not customers (hell, they STILL can’t keep up… I bet that demand would be a little less than it is, Nintendo would be happy for it) is getting games that is on par with Nintendo’s first party stuff that isn’t coming from them. That is the problem aside from the DD issue as explained earlier…. Through with SD downloads, it’s getting better… mind you synergy between the coming DSi and Wii would be nice and ease this more.
The 360 on the other hand is NECK DEEP in the DD dilemma. They are getting better in Japan, and Europe, and have a NEAR strangle hold on the American market. Development has expanded in folds, Third parties in 360 can make money in a ways that they currently can’t on the Wii or PS3. But like I told a friend once, Microsoft bet the Xbox farm on LIVE… and the holes there with digital ownership are beginning to show. They have for a while and to be honest, I am still rather hesitant on getting one simply for it. It’s something that I know I am not alone in, in fact they have lost quite a few players due to it and some rather lousy manufacturing (Hi Red Ring of Death). Manufacturing is something that they are handling, BUT it throws a player directly into this problem once things go wrong… on the 360, anything (that includes Movies and Music and the many, many games) that you download is simply NOT yours, you rent it at a set price point and HOPE TO HELL that your 360 doesn’t brake. It something that some customer service does help with as MS has learned, and getting back your stuff is getting much easier, but the problem is big enough hole for people to walk through and well other players are doing it… and it’s still in droves. It is something that MS MUST deal with if they want to approach Nintendo’s maddening sales, and trust me… THEY DO! Aside from that 360 still lags abit on diversity of games, that is something that developers/publishers are really going to have to tackle, because not everyone can pull a Gears of War or Halo out of them. Publishers want the numbers, but then can do without the games in that vain of play unless it’s necessary. But that is not as big of an issue as the DD hole at Xbox (and IF there is another system in the pipe… the DD hole is going to get a lot BIGGER unless MS get’s it). And kids, it’s that BIG.

In computing, The biggest loser… foreseeing that is going to be a hard one, but if I am to hazard a good guess (Hey look, something different)… Apple is pretty high in that list of companies that will suddenly do A LOT OF WRONG. Hell it’s already beginning to happen, simply put… alot of this will come down to the iPhone, since it’s growing more and more diverse and moving into the one great failing at Apple, The enterprise market.
The reason that I say this is because Apple as never really understood how to treat customers that value their security properly. And what they currently do is such an change to even the way that Microsoft handles it (and they are not the best by any measure, through they are getting better) that is deserves to be looked at. The enterprise market is notorious of having a HIGH value on security, this is something that will clash with the general Apple culture. This is one fight that I can see them (Apple Inc.) losing, and really that it not something that they can let happen… for if it does, their empire (that has been on steady growth) will stop cold and begin to shrink. And for Apple that is not only the iPhone that is at risk… It’s the iPod, the iBook, the MacBook, MacBook Pro, the Air, the PowerMac’s, the Mini-Mac’s. In other words if Apple loses that fight in a way that get’s really noticeable (and it will), EVERYTHING begins to fall around them… add in that we are currently in a recession, and you can see why Apple MUST do something against this. Something way beyond some really good PR.

Winners…. I would say Linux, but that is really ONLY by extension. The reason that I say this is more or less because of the way that the economy stands currently. And the continued rise to the bottom (<insert your netbook here>)… PC makers have taken notice, CHEAP is good, REALLY CHEAP is great… FREE… that is hard to beat. More and more I am beginning to see that with more new PC’s and Laptops that I see the more that they are inching to the bottom in price point, and the smaller the devices get… the more likely you’ll fine something that fits the small space. Linux is not the best in that field but it’s the most well known and that alone will raise all boats in the Open Source waters as more and more CHEAP PC’s, Laptops, Notebooks and Netbooks (especially the netbooks) make it to market.
But be forwarded… the Year of the Linux Desktop this is not. Customers will not really take notice of this, since, to be honest, it’s been around for years now. It just getting more and more obvious, the lower you go… the willing you are for something that can DO small with few limits. Mac OS X an DO small but only on one device(hi iPhone), Window’s can but there are limits to it… Linux also has limits in the embedded space BUT they are much less that what you find in the Windows attempt…. which will continue to serve Linux VERY well, even within the Distro Noise.

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