The original article was written in Russian on June 6, 2010 and is located here. The text below is a direct translation to English with no significant changes except for some idioms. This translation was made on August 11, 2011.
I haven’t written here for a long time. I’ve had some turmoil this past week. But now it is Saturday, and I’ve got some long-awaited peace of mind, and have remembered my long forgotten goals. And the rush has gone away and does not worry me anymore.
Nirvana. I see the future. I present my vision to you.
Desktop computers are dying. They still have some heavy games market (3D, etc) – because they need a good hardware and air ventilation, – and an enterprise market – because offices need many cheap word-processing machines. All other battles are lost for the desktops: the “cheap” computers are now netbooks; mid-level occasional gaming is best suited for notebooks. And desktops are going to lose the enterprise marker as well: their struggles will end by the year 2012-2013, when the companies will use notebooks almost exclusively.
Users are moving very quickly to the mobile devices — to the devices with very limited capabilities in all possible respects (in terms of both technical specifications and size), but the mobility compensates for all the hardships.
Currently, in the year 2010, plus minus, a huge battles is being fought for the form-factor of future devices: here we have iPads, touchbooks, and not-a-phone-but-something-else’s, etc, etc, etc.
Mobile OSes look innovative, but their built-in wow-effect will soon wear off. All of their system features will be universalized and all user interaction techniques will be unified by the time of their domination; it was the same story with keyboards and mice, so as buttons and windows, which have became dominant.
The method of interaction is going to change, too: the user experience is evolving from mouse moves and clicks to taps and sensor control. Any interfaces which lack tapping errors expectations (big buttons for fingers vs. small hyperlinks and mouse bars), magnification, zooming in & out, or screen rotation will soon be considered deficient and defective anachronisms of bygone ages.
Form-factor directly define information flow: a 7” screen cannot fit a site made for a 19”-22” screen; 1024×600 won’t fit the portals, which barely fit 2048×1024. All of them will have to be re-made, and flexible markup, so popular in Russia, will become the de facto standard.
The information consumption market has already significantly shifted to mobile content. Mobile content differs from the “classic” content in that it is minimalistic and presented only for purposes specific to the geographical, social and other parameters of the user; i.e. it is highly targeted.
In the same way that paper media lost their monopoly on information at the beginning of the millennium, the classic web will lost its monopoly at the beginning of 2010’s. Information will flow through very specific channels, addressed to a very specific user: only what they need, only when they need it, and only the way they need it. Mindless website publication in the public stream will not be useful.
Such a mobile content will win unconditionally and mercilessly in a year or two, i.e. prior to the year 2012. The Web in its current form will die.
By the year 2014-2015, information streaming will become fast enough on mobile devices that augmented reality could come to the masses. Till then, there will be only ideas and prototypes, which will create a lot of wow-effects, but will be too expensive for widespread use.
There is a lot of writing on software: desktop software died in 2004; web services have ruled since then. It is something that has already happened. We can only expect the growth of these services to an incredible scales in the future, including office suites and “desktops” (as in “workplaces”).
This growth will not be revolutionary, but evolutionary and steady. Such a development of the services will continue through the years 2017-2020, approximately, when the software will switch to the swarm architecture en mass (All Heil SkyNet!). We will see the sprouting of swarm software in 2013-2015. As for now, it is too early: networking and computational parameters of the hardware are not strong enough, and the public’s mentality is not ready yet.
The web services, including corporate ones, will go to the Cloud during this time. This does not necessary mean external clouds. Probably, there will be in-office cloud solutions. However, external clouds will be more advantageous and less expensive compared to self-hosted solutions.
Old good file hosters will die; the service hosters will rise. Do you want a blog? Ich bin your source. Do you want your own online shop with shiny galleries, complex taxonomy, payments with bankcards and paypals? Click here please, and choose your style please. Such hosters will appear widely in approximately 2011-2012, and will become a mainstream by 2015.
What is now called “social” will become “collaborative” soon. I don’t know how this concept will be named exactly, but the point is that thousands and millions of people jointly create something meaningful through their actions in common.
This concept differs from current understanding of “social” in that “social” is only a definition and a declaration of the links and their monitoring; it has no joint product yet. However, the transformation of Twitter from a social network to the analogue of mass-media is a first sprout of the new age. But this is only a drop in the bucket; real collaborativity will be general and will become the norm of life.
Although the labor markets will retain their current form, will shift their focus to the new order demands. Professionals will follow the customer’s needs, and so on as in the books.
There will be more mobile application developers and mobile content managers, especially at the beginning, when there is a zoo of technologies from different vendors. The information designer, as a separate kind of professional, will become more popular and widely employed; currently, this function is usually served by graphic designers and similar positions. There is a 50/50 chance that usability specialists will become more common, too.
By the year 2013-2015, the zoo of technologies will start to die and more or less universal development solutions will appear. Most likely, vendors will promote and protect their solutions till the end, and will not create the standards on their own. So, what is coming will be similar to Delphi in its time – a breakthrough in development processes, a shift from the languages to the environment, and it will translate the product to all of the vendor platforms in their native code. Both the wolves have eaten much and the sheephave not been touched!
Here comes the future. It is not far away – only 2-3 years left. The singularity is coming. I cannot predict the future for 10 years in advance, as I could at the end of the 90’s and the beginning of the 2000’s. Even predicting the future 5 years from now is a hard task for me. I doubt someone could see that far ahead now. There are fewer and fewer people who predict the future, who can forecast it. More and more people dream that reality will be the same as their current behavior model is.
But the future does not care about your plans or business-models, believe me. The future is already now. It can already be seen. It will demolish everything that does not fit into it.
And here you are, the programmers, the developers, the designers, whatever. Have you found a place for yourselves in this future? Have you planned your way through it?
And what about your company? Does its management see this future? Or does it try to make profits only in the here-and-now? How long will your company stay in the new world? And what about you in it?