My 2 Cents: Here is a little info about the different techâ€™s that stood out in 2008â€¦.I personally use all of them :O)
1. Netflix Rocks Internet Movie Streaming
A year ago, we would have guessed that Apple would become the dominant player in the nascent business of streaming Internet-delivered TV shows and movies to TV with its Apple TV. We would have been wrong. Over the past year, Netflix’s "Watch It Now" feature evolved from a little-used part of its Web site to a killer app that is causing some people to cancel their cable. The secret to the success of Netflix’s streaming movie service: widespread integration into TV-connected devices that are either inexpensive (such as the $100 Roku Netflix Player) or already in people’s homes (such as the Xbox360). Even better: The company is rapidly ramping up its high-definition and first-run offerings, including first-run TV shows just a day after they first air. Unlike Apple, which charges a few bucks for every TV show or movie, Netflix’s streaming is completely free to Netflix subscribers. And unlike Hulu (another sleeper success this year), Netflix streaming is advertisement-free.
2. Pocket Gadgets, on the Cheap
Netbooks and pocket camcorders were, undoubtedly, the two biggest consumerelectronics breakthroughs of the past year. But these distinct new categories were really results of the same winning formula for 2008: No-frills, portable, cheap electronics. Netbook manufacturers found they could bring prices down well below $400 by exorcising features such as optical drives, large screens and even the latest operating systems. Pocket camcorder makers, such as Pure Digital Technologies, the makers of the best-selling Flip, came to the same conclusion, taking out frills for a bare-bones HD camcorder with its tiny, $230 Flip HD Mino. Consumers were willing to sacrifice top-notch performance to have cheap, portable gadgets. With the recent economic downturn, we would bet the demand for these budget-priced gadgets will only skyrocket.
3. Mobile Applications
Hardware- and feature-wise, cellphones have hit a plateau. The battle of millimeters in a rush to be the thinnest phone is largely a thing of the past, and just about any hardware-based feature we want is now standard. That’s why, these days, a smart phone is only as good as its applications. This is the new battleground for mobile technological supremacy, with stores such as the iPhone’s App Store and the Android Market leading the charge, and new entries from Palm and (coming in March) Blackberry close behind. Just because a feature wasn’t thought of in a boardroom doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. All it takes is a good idea and a standard development kit.
(Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)
4. 3D Cinema
This past year’s Journey to the Center of the Earth may not have been a big hit, but it was significant for a few reasons. First: It was the first "live action" (we use that term loosely for any Brendan Fraser movie) digital 3D movie. And second, even though 3D screens accounted for a small percentage of its showings, they accounted for the majority of Journey’s revenue. In other wordsâ€”where it was showing in 3D, people went to see it. Over the next year, 3D will continue its transition from novelty to Hollywood standard. Some of Hollywood’s biggest names, such as Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron are either working on or have already made digital 3D films. The granddaddy of them all, James Cameron’s Avatar (his first feature since the monster blockbuster Titanic) is slated for a3D release in late 2009. Just about every industry expert we’ve spoken to cites this release as the true tipping point for 3D saturation. Cameron has signaled that, at least initially, he wants to release the film only in 3D. So if theater owners want to cash in on what will likely be a huge hit, they’re going to need to install more 3D screens.
5. Location-Based Services
Take open mobile-application development, add widespread proliferation of phone-based GPS, and you get the emergence of location-based programs. Programs based on the global positioning of a user spread like crazy this year, particularly for the iPhone, which has dozens of applications that allow users to find businesses that are near their present location. Urbanspoon’s iPhone app, for example, connects users with nearby restaurants by using a randomized, roulette-style interface. Of course, the most interesting use of location-based programs is its marriage with social applications. Programs such as Loopt allow you to find friends who are nearby. Down the line, look for the emphasis to shift from finding existing friends who are nearby, to making new friends. Stranded at the airport? Soon you won’t think twice about finding a like-minded individual who is also at O’Hare.
Twitter may be the most famous tool for microblogging (the abbreviated, one-or-two sentence cousin to regular blogging), but it’s no longer the most important. That distinction now belongs to something that is rarely even thought of as a microblog: Facebook. Specifically, Facebook "status" updates. Millions of users update their "status" dozens of times a day, letting the world know how they are feeling, what they are doing and what they are looking to do be doing. And, thanks to Facebook’s recent redesign, these updates are broadcast, front on center, to each and every one of a user’s friends. Of course, microblogging has been around longer than the past year. What really sent it over the tipping point in the past 12 months was the meteoric rise of mobile applications. Now, users can update their Twitter or Facebook status in seconds, from anywhere and with ease. Instead of being the domain of desktop-bound bloggers, microblogs are now effectively quick broadcasts from the lunch line ("out of sushi again"), the stadium floor ("at AMAZING show!"), or the streets ("anybody around Avenue A wanna grab a drink?").