I grew up with the Atari 2600. I was a god at Combat, handicapping myself as the bomber and let my little sister play as the 3 biplanes. I did speedruns of Adventure and Superman before they were called speedruns. And, believe it or not, I actually loved playing E.T.
You heard right.
That much maligned game was absolutely one of my favorites, and I never really understood why it was considered the worst game of all time! It was challenging, and just random enough to have a high-replay value. If you were good, you could finish the game in just a few minutes.
Still, there are plenty of people out there who hate the game. HATE it. You only have to look at the embedded video to see just how much. I’m not saying the game’s without fault – E.T.’s coloring isn’t good, collision detection isn’t optimized, and it’s a difficult game to finish!
If you’re a fan of retro gaming, and I know a lot of you still have a soft-spot in your little digital hearts for those gems, go find yourselves a copy of Stella, the excellent open-source Atari 2600 emulator, download the ROM, and enjoy a snowy weekend with an old friend.
No preamble! Let’s go straight to the predictions!
The iPhone 6 will launch, and will offer a 5 inch screen at 1080p resolution. It will be the same thickness at the 5s, have the same styling as the iPad Air, with an 8MP camera, but with optical image stabilization, and 1.7 micron pixel density on the sensor. No NFC as low-powered Bluetooth will be king.
There will be a wearable device offered, but it won’t be what the pundits wanted, and it will be widely derided, though incredibly successful. It will feature few abilities on its own, but it will be packed with sensors designed to pair with a base-unit like an iPhone or iPad over low-powered Bluetooth.
Speaking of Bluetooth, Apple may release Bluetooth headphones that will connect with a hyperpowered Siri upgrade in iOS7. Any wearable devices will also pair with Siri so you can operate your phone by voice-control, and never have to take your phone out of your pocket.
New phones, new tablets, new capabilities. Sony will get the nod for a Nexus device based on the Xperia line. Rumors will abound about a Google watch. Motorola’s flagship phone, their response to the Moto X, will be slightly larger, 1080p, and be a monster hit amongst the pundits.
Google Fiber service will begin rolling out to another small-to-middlesized city, like Phoenix or Nashville. Perhaps Lexington. AT&t and Comcast will respond with Gigabit service of their own in cities that they’ve already established, but Verizon will be noticeably absent, finding infrastructure upgrades were more expensive than they’ve forecast.
Google will quietly supplant their user’s addictions to Microsoft Office suites in favor of their Google Docs service, and they won’t even notice the transition.
The Galaxy S5 will launch with a 20MP camera, 2k display, and the rank-and-file will go nuts for it in Q1. Samsung may dip their toes in Tizen with a budget smartphone, but nobody’s buying.
Windows 8.1 will drop in price as an upgrade to $50, in an effort to draw pirated copies into the fold. Windows Phone international market share will jump as they release incredibly inexpensive phones into emerging markets. US market share will drop, however.
XBox One will stutter along because new first-tier title releases will be small. Game companies will abandon the 360 for new games, and so there will be a doldrum of game releases as the developers transition. Pundits will declare the XBox One to be a abject failure as gamers get frustrated with limited titles, but the third quarter will explode with amazing new games. Christmas 2014 will be when the XBox One really shines.
Nobody will remember Bezos’s fascination with drone delivery. Anti-drone legislation will make that delivery method a near-impossibility until 2016, even if everything goes right for Amazon.
Amazon’s operating expenses have outstripped their revenue in the past quarter, which I believe to be due to several factors. One, their race-to-the-bottom pricing, and two, Prime shipping. The results being margins are razor thin. They’re already trying to adjust by limiting what can ship alone, and what can’t. They’ll find long-term cost savings by investing heavily in UPS. Already in trouble for underestimating demand in Q4 of 2013, UPS will gladly accept Amazon’s help by leveraging Amazon’s algorithms for sales prediction to estimate shipping needs.
It’s impractical that UPS could be purchased by Amazon, as UPS’s market cap is beyond Amazon’s abilities right now, but give it a few more years. You could see Amazon buying up UPS one day, just not in 2014.
Kindle Fire keeps trying to place itself as a competitor to iPad Air, but customers who get one for Christmas in 2013 won’t be happy with the limited abilities of their new tablets. There will be a major embarrassment with an out-of-control Mayday support technician that will go viral, and the much lauded Mayday button will become a late-night TV punchline. Expect Amazon to focus more on their Paperwhite Kindles in 2014.
Snowden will not return to the USA willingly. Current laws in place regarding discovery and evidence would prevent him from being able to defend himself against espionage charges, so he’ll stay put. More leaks will come out, and the USA will defend against those leaks by dismantling and erasing the evidence of those programs before they get out. Amenable media outlets will begin to call into question the veracity of Snowden’s leaks, which will marginalize the discussion of privacy until we’re fat and happy again with our new gadgets. Privacy minded individuals will, no doubt, be utterly frustrated with the situation.
Flexible displays won’t be the curvy bendable displays we see in news reports. They’ll get rolled out in smartphones this year, but they’ll still be mostly flat. The flexibility will help with keeping screens from getting shattered, but somebody will have to come up with a cool marketing buzzword to help sell them.
4K TVs will be all the rage Christmas 2014, and everybody who had to replace their DVDs for Blurays will have to replace their Blurays with “Ultra-HD” Blurays.
With great cameras in already smartphones, Nikon and Canon will begin to exit the consumer camera market and focus more on the pro to prosumer marketplaces. Expect a lot fewer new models of cameras and big layoffs for both companies.
Heather and I will occasionally jaunt off to the beach, even when it’s cold. Not to go swimming, or get a tan – but just because it’s good to get away from your regular surroundings, and think about other things. Work has my mind spinning, as it does this time of year.
It’s mornings like this that really reset my brains. As ThinkGeek makes its inexorable lurch towards Christmas, my thoughts get overloaded with worry, contingencies, and general cruft that makes everything I do harder. My coworkers suffer having to deal with me being extra grumpy, and my waistline suffers from me trying to drown my fears and frustrations in Snickers bars and cheeseburgers.
And then, the sun comes up like this. The sky was clear, and the air was cold. The only sound I could hear was the crashing of surf. I was forced to take a mental inventory of what was troubling me, and found that the list was empty, and for that, I was grateful for the sun.