imageEveryone and their mother are throwing out their predictions for 2009 nowadays, it’s a new fad. It’s like you’re not cool anymore if you don’t have twitter, a Mac, and a set of random predictions for the next 12 joyous months.

So I decided to throw in a few ideas of my own to be part of the cool crowd again (how much cooler can I be already, you might think, and I wouldn’t blame you).


Disclaimer (read it, tough guy)

What this post is:

  • about the future of technology and the Internet, 2009 and beyond.
  • my ideas on what is going to happen or should happen. If they happen to match someone else’s ideas – it doesn’t mean I ripped them off, it just means we share the same opinions and they’re more likely to come true.
  • awesome.

What this post is not:

  • predictions I pulled out of my ass, like “the market will bounce in August 2009” because some random douche said so.
  • a collection of stolen ideas. I have reserved a separate post for that purpose.
  • a raptor on hoverboard.


Things That Need To Happen

1. Socially Editable Maps

imageWith the advent of the GPS technology in the last couple of years and GPS prices falling (my originally $800 Garmin Nuvi 660 now costs about $200), the biggest frustration I have now is the accuracy of information. In the world of Google Maps and Wikipedia, why is it that I have to wait a whole year for map updates that are obsolete by the time they come out? The Bay Bridge repairs change the roads on an almost monthly basis, for example.

I want to know about road changes as soon as they occur.

The next big thing will be a company, either existing, like Google, or a startup, that will introduce the social aspect into the mapping technology. It will do for maps and GPS what Wikipedia did for text, using the same approach. The details are of course to be worked out.

After this concept becomes successful, GPS companies, will need to support such updates over the air, with a push of a button. This ties in closely with prediction #2 and #4.


2. Open Source GPS Goes Mainstream

imageGoogle, the father of Android, needs to get behind this one as well. In fact, an open source GPS device would really be a subset of Android’s functionality, in a dedicated device, so it shouldn’t be that hard. In the far future, it will be built into automobile dashboards but I don’t foresee that happening in the near future.

Combined with prediction #1, this will be a killer device. I really believe that free, open source software is the wave of the future, the natural direction of where software development is heading. Look at Linux in the past few years. Look at Android now. Release one and I’m be #1 in line for one. Those who know me IRL know that I can’t go anywhere without a GPS anymore. I once forgot a GPS at home and ended up in Chili.


3. Photo and Video Cameras Will Go Wireless, Anywhere You Go

imagePhoto and video cameras will be able to post pictures and videos to your home computer, sites like Flickr and YouTube, or email themselves directly to your friends… as soon as you record them, over cellular and Wifi networks.

Cell phones with cameras? Think cameras with cell phones. Some Wifi enabled cameras already came out, like this Canon SD430 (DP review here), and this freshly announced at CES 2009 Sony G3, and now it’s time to go cellular.

The next prediction is a generalization of this concept.


4. Wireless Connectivity Everywhere, In Every Device, Anywhere You Go

imageCell phone carriers will sign an increasing amount of deals with companies that want to build devices which connect to the Internet or private networks anywhere you go: GPSes, cameras, digital picture frames, cars, fridges.

The future is completely wireless. People are sick and tired of cords, clutter, and Rick Astley – I know that for a fact and digg says so.


5. Android Will Become Hugely Successful

imageAlright, I’m dead tired of all the posts about how Google’s Android is going to flop in 2009. I sincerely feel that people with that point of view have never experienced Google and open source, played with Android itself, or realized what exactly an open source phone OS means to developers, manufacturers, and consumers.

Android will become a platform of choice in the next couple of years as everyone starts to realize its limitless possibilities, the OS matures, thousands of new apps get written for it, and new Android phones flood the market. The only Android phone released so far, HTC’s G1, has already received praise from consumers, as well as my friends (even the females ones are excited. And yes, I have female friends).

Motorola announced a few months ago that its new phones are going to run Android and Windows Mobile exclusively. If a company with an R&D department as big as Moto’s stands behind something, you bet your ass they’ve done they’re homework. And what’s not to like? They can now:

  • take something that’s supported by the biggest Internet company in the world and the community, for free.
  • stop worrying about writing and maintaining their own OS – BAM, tons of money saved.
  • concentrate R&D on the hardware.
  • if need be, freely develop the features they want that Android doesn’t support yet and contribute them back. Everyone wins, except maybe Symbian developers that don’t have a job anymore.

Android is going to be a revolution. Apple and Android fighting it out will be the best thing that happened to us since the invention of sushi.

Update: An Android desktop phone was just released at CES. By end of 2009 we will be flooded with Androidness.


6. Open Source HDTVs

image The open source revolution will continue and start penetrating the HDTV market.

Personally, I think set top boxes are a waste of effort, time, and money but give me an HDTV that can run Youtube, Vimeo, LastFM, Pandora, and any other site through some sort of a plugin or browser, with a build in Media Center that connects to my computers and goes Wifi, that uses open source, upgradeable software (most likely Linux based), and I will buy it in a heartbeat.

Yes, what I’m saying is if my TV and HTPC did something dirty, I would totally dig their offspring, and so would millions of other people who don’t want/need/care/understand HTPC. TV in general holds a special place in my heart, and make it an even better experience, people.

Update: In fact, Vizio just made an announcement at CES 2009 that their TVs will have built-in support for Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon, Yahoo, and more.


7. Twitter’s Popularity Will Explode

imageNow for some social media. Twitter will continue dominating the microblogging arena, similar to YouTube dominating the video space. The site will grow extremely fast, much faster than now.

Competitors, like plurk, will probably secure certain small niches but nobody will be close to touch twitter.

Twitter’s Google PageRank (PR) today is 8 out of 10, which is considered very high.

It has the Alexa 3 month average rank of 599, 1 week average of 414, and 1 day average of 351.

I predict that by the end of 2009, Twitter will move into the top 50 Alexa.

Twitter’s significance in the business world for will be revolutionary. It will become second nature for every company to have one or many twitter accounts as means of connecting to consumers on a personal level. Think an opportunity for mini press releases, many of them, daily, not boring ones, the ones people are actually going to read.

Twitter is already being used by some companies, like Comcast (@comcastcares), for monitoring and responding to customer comments.


8. Social Media Jobs Will Be In Increasing Demand

image SEO, social marketing, and viral campaigns are very cost effective ways of brand promotion, and every company will want to jump on board.

As more and more of them realize this, they will start needing more people with marketing skills of John Chow, Chris Brogan, Nicky Cakes (this dude is hilarious), Jeremy Schoemaker, and the like.


9. YouTube Will Continue To Dominate

image This one is easy:

  • Biggest user base.
  • HD. My favorite greasemonkey plugin YousableTubeFix exposes hi/lo FLVs, MP4, and HD MP4 options. Better quality equals better user experience.
  • Chromeless player. YouTube is the only company I know of that has a Javascript controlled chromeless player, which can be embedded in any other flash player. Combined with already existing millions of embeds all over the Internet, YouTube’s popularity isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
  • Google backed. Anything is possible when you Google owns you. Competition releases a good feature? YouTube has the resources to one-up it in no time. Need for more servers? YouTube will just buy a few thousand more with the $1.65Bln Google gave it. Traffic explosion? No problem – YouTube has been mooching off the Google CDN for months now.

At the end of 2007, I predicted that in a year we will experience unprecedented HD quality online video. This prediction came true when Hulu and fueled by its success CBS, ABC, NBC, and pretty much every other TV network released their free online TV sites. YouTube launched HD a few months later.

So, my YouTube prediction for 2009 is it will sign deals with major TV and movie networks to finally start showing legal TV episodes and movies. It will become the biggest legal TV and movie hub on the Internet.


10. PostgreSQL Will Gain Popularity

image Sun’s buyout of MySQL in 2008 surely sent some shockwaves around. However, I predict that the following factors will contribute to PostgreSQL gaining momentum:

  • certain features of MySQL were moved to Enterprise only. Open source enthusiasts don’t appreciate an open source project going partially closed source, so they will be looking for alternative software, like PostgreSQL.
  • having spent years with MySQL, I am incredibly frustrated with certain quirks that should have been worked out a long time ago. As software architects look for stable, mature, cost effective, and easy to maintain databases, they will find PostgreSQL increasingly attractive.

Don’t take my word for it. I highly suggest taking a look at this whitepaper comparing MySQL and PostgreSQL. here are some highlights:

  • Online operations and reorganization. This is my biggest beef with MySQL. Almost any ALTER table command will prevent writes to the table while it’s being altered. This operation requires double the table size because an ALTER simply makes a copy of the table, a rename, and then drop of the old one. This takes FOREVERRRR. PostgreSQL, on the other hand, supports a lot more online operations that will not take down the table. MySQL promised to support online ALTER TABLE by 2009. Will they keep their word? I highly doubt it.
  • PostgreSQL supports function based and partial indexes.
  • PostgreSQL supports nested triggers.
  • PostgreSQL supports user defined datatypes.
  • PostgreSQL has an IP address datatype (woot!).
  • MySQL’s default engine doesn’t support online backup and recovery (*cough*, MyISAM, *cough*). Don’t even get me started on MyISAM, which doesn’t support referential integrity, transactions, of any other ACID properties. Yes, I know, there's InnoDB. It’s a lot better. But it’s still not good enough.

If you have spent time interfacing with both MySQL and PostgreSQL, I’d like to hear from you. Everyone I talked to so far who had used both, preferred PostgreSQL.

For all the MySQL fanboys, I was and still am one of you, I use MySQL every day. I’m only trying to open your eyes so you can see the rest of the world.

Did you know PostgreSQL was a lot more mature than MySQL? Postgres was started in 1986 (or 1977 if you count its predecessor Ingres), while MySQL was initially released in 1995.

In fact, I think the only reason MySQL is so much more popular than Postgresql nowadays is luck and marketing by MySQL AB (hey, it sure paid off, I’m not saying anything).

So, here’s to PostgreSQL having a bright future.



As a bonus, here is a collection of links to other interesting predictions for 2009:

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Artem Russakovskii is a San Francisco programmer and blogger. Follow Artem on Twitter (@ArtemR) or subscribe to the RSS feed.

In the meantime, if you found this article useful, feel free to buy me a cup of coffee below.