Predicting the future is a sucker's game. No matter how smart you think you are, events have a way of overtaking logic and making predictions not just wrong but completely beside the point. That's why we have smartphones instead of jetpacks.
That said, the ReadWrite team couldn't resist the year-end opportunity to gaze into 2013 and come up with 14 things we just know are stone-cold locks to come true in the next 12 months, split evenly between consumer and business technology. In fact, this is just the first set of end-of-the-year predictions and wrap-ups we're putting together on a wide variety of important technologies. Look for them as 2012 winds down.
In the meantime, we absolutely guarantee that every one of these predictions will come true in 2013 … unless, of course, things change. Then all bets are off.
Free-to-Play (F2P) Gaming Goes Mainstream: No longer relegated to tiny little casual and mobile games, the free-to-play concept will expand with at least one big-budget, high-profile, AAA franchise game competing with the best the industry has to offer. Instead of demanding big-bucks up front, though, this game will try to recover its investment via advertisements and in-game purchases. If it succeeds, it will change the way games are sold forever. - Cormac Foster
Louder Social Din Opens Opportunity For Aggregators: The social media din will get even louder and harder to understand. Aggregators that help curate these competing streams and tie together disparate services will become the new social media power brokers. - Taylor Hatmaker
Social Media Erases the Line Between Citizens and Journalists: Real-time social platforms will continue to amplify the voices of citizen journalists around the world, all but dissolving the line between the news as we knew it and the relevance and urgency of crowdsourced reporting.- Taylor Hatmaker
Facebook Buys Something Big: Expect some big moves - and at least one really big acquisition - from Facebook as the company tries to make up for lost time on monetization and mobile. It could be Microsoft's Atlas or some other ad platform. - Taylor Hatmaker
Twitter Gets Competition: Services like App.net, Branch and Medium will gain traction, stretching our collective attention spans beyond the mental claustrophobia of 140-character micro-thoughts. Google+ may be a joke now, but the so-called social ghost town will chug steadily into 2013 as Google patiently plays the long game, bringing its Web of products even deeper into the fold. - Taylor Hatmaker
Mobile Security Meltdown: Security experts have been warning about mobile security vulnerabilities for years, but no one has really been listening. That will change in 2013 when a massive security issue plagues one or mobile platforms, stealing personal information, bricking phones and changing the way people use their devices. - Fredric Paul
Apple Will Release a Television Set: In the spring of 2013 we will see a genuine Apple television, not just the little streaming box that is currently known as Apple TV. The opportunity to make a big splash in the time between big tech conferences like the Consumer Electronics Show, Mobile World Congress and South by Southwest means we should look for the announcement in March. - Dan Rowinski
The Enterprise Strikes Back: 2013 will see a continuing slump in startups that target consumer categories like social media and mobile and renewed strength in startups aimed at the enterprise. As venture capitalists come down from the bubbly days of Facebook, Zynga and Groupon, they'll return to their senses and invest in companies that emphasize solid fundamentals, like paying customers and profits. - Tim Devaney and Tom Stein
The Enterprise Inflates a Bubble: The shift to enterprise is good news and bad news. The good news is the Valley will get back to solving real problems. The bad news is we're going to see a huge bubble in B2B startups just like the one that just popped in B2C. By this time next year we'll all be wringing our hands again, wondering what happened. - Dan Lyons
Governments Tighten Their Grip on the Internet: This year set the table for the government trying to regulate the Internet, with the SOPA and PIPA piracy controversies in the US, and ACTA in Europe. In 2013, a new mutation of the Stop Online Piracy Act will be duked out in Congress. Internationally, fallout from the United Nations-sanctioned International Telecommunication Union's World Conference On International Telecommunications will likely cede more regulatory power to governments around the world, threatening to disrupt the Web's very infrastructure. - Adam Popescu
Apple Cracks the Enterprise: In 2013, driven to the brink by the seismic changes in Windows 8, the difficulty of supporting Windows RT, and lackluster Windows 8 tablets, enterprises will adopt Apple devices with orders in the tens of thousands of units. This won't be the end of Microsoft, but it will put the company back on the defensive after a year of innovation. - Jon Mitchell
Cloud Rules: The early adoption phase of cloud computing is just about over. Up until now, many cloud deployments have been the purview of small capital-poor startups and department-level teams who need resources faster than corporate procurement can move. In 2013 we will see much broader adoption of the cloud across the entire enterprise, as the cost-benefits of elastic computing become too attractive to ignore. Expect some major deployment announcements as OpenStack-based products become more prolific and Amazon Web Services and CloudStack rise to meet the challenge. - Brian Proffitt
Big Data Consolidates: Big Data - defined as companies trying to glean useful insights from vast amounts of data - will be driven by massive investments by large corporations. With all that cash sloshing around, we'll see a big uptick in merger and acquisition activity as traditional tech vendors put big-data startups on their shoping lists. - Antone Gonsalves
Google Will Become an ISP: After a successful trial run with Google Fiber in Kansas City, Google will reveal pricing and options for Google Fiber Internet service in select U.S. cities by the end of 2013. The offering won't have a mobile data component, just home and business Internet, VOIP, and TV. It will seem like a very good deal compared to existing ISPs. - Jon Mitchell
There you have it, 14 can't-miss technology predictions for 2013. Stay tuned for deeper dives into the technologies and trends that will shape our future in the coming year.
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