Last week I posted a brief review of 2009 here, but didn't go much into predictions for 2010. I won't try to predict anything detailed now either, but here's a few things I think will be interesting to monitor over the year. And no, tablet computing isn't on the list. For fairly obvious reasons, this is focused on areas impacting social games. As a further assist, I've .
Social networks and virtual worlds interoperability
As more and more business transforms to use Internet as a core function, the customers of these businesses are faced with a that has already gotten out of hand. It is not uncommon today to have to manage 20-30 different userid/password pairs that are in regular use, from banks to e-commerce to social networks. At the same time, , no doubt in large part because of the minimum-security methods of identification.
Social networks today are a significant contributor to this problem. Each collects and presents information about its users that in a silo of low-trustworthy identification methods. The users, on the other hand, perceive little incentive to manage their passwords in a secure fashion. Account hijacking and impersonation is a major problem area to each vendor. The low trust level of individual account data also leads to a .
A technology solution, is emerging and taking hold in a form of an industry-accepted standard for exchanging identity data between an ID provider and a vendor in need of a verified id for their customer. A few of current backers of the standard in the picture on the right. However, changing the practices of the largest businesses has barely begun and no consumer shift can yet be seen – as is typical for such “undercurrent” trends.
OpenID will allow consumers to use f, which in turn will in combining data from each other in near-automatic, personalized mash-ups via the APIs each vendor can expose to trusted users with less fear of opening holes for account hijacking.
Browsers vs desktops: what's the target for entertainment software?
Here's a rough sketch of competing technology streams in terms of two primary factors – ease of access versus the rich experience of high-performance software. “Browser wars” are starting again, and with the improved engines behind Safari 4, Firefox 4, IE 8 and Google Chrome, a lot of the kind of we're used to thinking belongs to native software or at best browser plugins like Flash, Java or Silverlight . This for sure includes high-performance application code, rich 2D vector and pixel graphics, video streams and access to new information like location-sensing. The plugins will most likely be stronger at 3D graphics and synchronized audio and at like using webcams for gesture-based control. Invariably, especially the new input capabilities will also bring with them which will not be fully resolved within the next 2-3 years.
While 3D as a technology will be available to browser-based applications, this doesn't mean the web will turn to represent everything as a virtual copy of the physical world. Instead, it's best use will be as a tool for accelerating and and presentation concepts – . For social interaction experiences, a 3-degrees-freedom , and other presentations such as axonometric “camera in the corner” concepts will remain more accessible. Naturally, they can (but don't necessarily need to) be tech.
Increased computing capabilities will change economies of scale
The history of the “computer revolution” has been about automation changing economies of scale to enable entirely new types of business. Lately we've seen this eg by Google AdWords enabling small businesses to advertise and/or publish ads without marketing departments or involvement of agencies.
The same trend is continuing in the form of in Cloud Computing, becoming available in costs which allow terabytes of storage to organizations of almost any size and budget, and most importantly, developing data mining, search and discovery algorithms that as automated business practices. Unfortunately, the as well.
Areas in which this is happening as we speak:
- further types and , better targeting, availability of media
- computer-vision based user interfaces which require nothing more than a webcam
- ever and the use of them for game exploits, money laundering, identity theft and surveillance
The escalation of large-scale threats have raised the need for and best practices between organizations regarding the security relevant information such as new threats, customer risk rating, identification of targeted and organized crime.
Software development, efficiencies, bottlenecks, resources
Commercial software development tools and methods experience a significant shift roughly once every decade. The last such shift was the mainstreaming of RAD/IDE-based, virtual-machine oriented tools and the rise of Web and open source in the 90s, and now those two rising themes are increasingly mainstream while “convergent”, cross-platform applications which depend on the availability of always-on Internet are emerging. As before, it's not driven by technological possibility, but by the richness and availability of high-quality development tools with which more than just the “rocket-scientist” superstars can create new applications.
Web-accessible APIs, the security design of those APIs, efficient utilization of services from non-associated, even competing companies, and friction-free interfaces for end users of these web-native applications is the challenge.
In this world, the traditional IT outsourcing houses won't be able to serve as a safety valve for resources as they're necessarily still focused on serving the last and current mainstream. In their place, And as with any such relationship, it must be nurtured. In the case of open source, that requires participation and contribution back to the further development of that enabling infrastructure as the cost of outsourcing the majority of the work to the community.
With the launch of iPhone, the use of Web content and 3rd party applications on mobile devices has multiplied compared to previous smart phone generations. This is due to : the f for the iPhone, and the . Moreover, the wide base of the applications is primarily because of the former, as proven by the wide availability of unauthorized applications already before the launch of iPhone 2.0 and the App Store. Nokia's failure to create such an applications market despite the functionality available on S60 phones for years before the iPhone launch proves this – it was not the features of the device, but the development tools and application distribution platform were the primary factor.
The launch of Google's . Current Android-based devices lack the polish of iPhone, and the stability gained from years of experience of Nokia devices, yet the , and the next couple of years will see accelerated development and polish cycle from all parties. At the moment, it's impossible to call the winner on this race, though.