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I (can see into the future), Cringely
January 2, 2004 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Robert X. Cringely's Predictions for 2004 : first he updates readers on his 2003 predictions (80% accuracy) and then dishings 15 new techie prophecies.
posted by boost ventilator (19 comments total)

 
He predicted a flash-based mini ipod. My guess is there's no way such a device would be feasable with enough storage and good enough price for Apple to find it worthwhile. We'll see in a few days if this one is knocked down.

He predicted there'd be no G6, which is an easy one since IBM and Apple have laid out a roadmap for the G5 stretching through this year.

On the G5 sales figures, Robert must not think that anybody else will want to follow in Virginia Tech's path and build incredibly cost effective supercomputing clusters.

He's probably right on HP and (sadly) Sun continuing to struggle. He hasn't given any reasons for predicting Dell's success in new markets, probably just relying on the 'biggest bully on the block' factor here. Though Dell's continuing inability to build proper high-end hardware (8-way plus servers, etc) strikes me as a huge problem area for them, and if they don't start investing much more substantially in research IBM will smack them around easily enough in the big money markets where technical expertise is a bigger issue than price per box.

I don't see WalMart's music service going anywhere. Again he doesn't give a reason other than "it's wal-mart".
posted by Space Coyote at 5:51 PM on January 2, 2004


2) We still won't see a big example of cyber-terrorism simply because nobody has figured out how to actually kill people that way. When it comes to terrorism, all that matters are body counts.

What an odd thought! I suppose something like a massive power failure mid-winter wouldn't "matter"...? For a society so wedded to the notion of "what I want and when I want it", any widespread disruption of the infrastructure would be traumatic.
posted by 327.ca at 6:33 PM on January 2, 2004


any widespread disruption of the infrastructure would be traumatic.

Except that during major blackouts in NY and SF this year, it wasn't traumatic. The power went out, no catastrophe.
posted by eyeballkid at 6:45 PM on January 2, 2004


Well, mainstream instant messaging spam became prevalent in 2003, so that's pretty a given. I doubt MS really cares much about creating new e-mail protocols to cure spam, and open source attempts haven't gotten past the discussion stage yet.

I doubt SCO will affect Linux that much, as the lawsuits ate away last year's earnings to make for a nice loss. SCO either has to actually show some proof, or they'll just die.

Lastly, I doubt that the government will do anything about IT outsourcing.

But this is all my thoughts, and guarrenteed to not be 100% accurate.
posted by Darke at 7:32 PM on January 2, 2004


1) notice how he doesn't link to the actual column to allow ppl to decide for themselves?

2) oh my god he predicted the g5. *snore* lets see here, the g4 replaced the g3, and at the time BM was working on their ppc line and MOT was asleep at the wheel. Hey rob i got some news for you.. *everyone* knew this one.

3) He predicted that congress would pass more civil rights destroying laws? Ya know predicting that the sun will rise isnt a prediction, its obvious.

I predict that RXC will continue to produce inaccurate and inflammatory articles in the year to come. Oh wait thats obvious too.
posted by MrLint at 8:09 PM on January 2, 2004


cringley is especially good at seeing things that are right in front of him. you'd thing that's stupid, but it's funny just how many people are apparently incapable of that, subconsciously or ignorantly or otherwise.

digital convergence is inevitable. especially when giants like vint cerf are making outright statements along the lines of voip subsuming pstn.
posted by dorian at 8:38 PM on January 2, 2004


That he asks me to come back in 365 days rather than 366 to check his predictions makes me wonder a bit about his attention to detail [skyscraper does a little pedant dance].
posted by skyscraper at 8:58 PM on January 2, 2004


cringley is especially good at seeing things that are right in front of him
Howard Cosell called it "an uncanny grasp of the obvious", an indispensible quote (he used it to describe the sportscasting style of the pre-infamy O.J. Simpson)
posted by wendell at 9:03 PM on January 2, 2004


1) It will happen late in the year, but Microsoft will make a bold run for video game leadership. Sony and Nintendo have both chosen IBM's Cell Processor for their next-generation game consoles. This is a processor that does not yet exist and for which nobody can fathom how to write games. While the two Japanese companies scratch their heads, Microsoft will be trying to make inroads with game developers and introduce its own next-generation machine. In the long run, though, Microsoft won't succeed in taking the gaming lead.

Er, number one is already wrong as Nintendo isn't using Cell Technology to power its next gen system. That's strictly Sony. The IBM part is right, but then... ALL systems are using IBM technology to an extent (though Sony's is more of a collab with Toshiba as well).

Anyway, as we're not even going to get a next-gen machine (not counting the PSP) this year, that prediction is kind of moot. Oooh, Microsoft will try to make inroads with developers! Wow. Genius prediction there... it's what they've been trying to do for three years now!
posted by mkn at 9:25 PM on January 2, 2004


It will happen late in the year, but Microsoft will make a bold run for video game leadership. Sony and Nintendo have both chosen IBM's Cell Processor for their next-generation game consoles. This is a processor that does not yet exist and for which nobody can fathom how to write games.

Ooops.

Nintendo and Microsoft have both thrown their hats in the PowerPC ring, even sharing the same graphics chip manufacturer, ATI (albeit different teams). Rumour has it that MS has dropped the hard-drive (to surprisingly little developer reaction) for cost reasons, which will make it increasingly difficult to seperate the two in terms of raw stats.

Cell is a Sony/Toshiba/IBM co-development initially for the PS3 but exanding to pretty much everything later. It's a risk, but Sony is hyper-aware of this, and has been preparing developers for a while now. The PS2 was criticised by developers for a lack of initial libraries (later in the cycle it doesn't matter, but for early titles, good libraries are essential), Sony have said that they will not make that mistake again.

BUT this is all irrelevant, because while all three may announce the next gen this year (and possibly ship early dev-kits), no-one will launch the actual consumer hardware until the end of 2005 at the earliest.

This year it's Sony's PSP (PlayStation Portable), more features for XBox Live, and an outside bet on a secret Nintendo hardware project.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:28 PM on January 2, 2004


>My guess is there's no way such a device would be feasable with enough storage and good enough price for Apple to find it worthwhile.

Why not? iRiver has a 1gig mp3 player that's all solid state on the market right now.

If Apple chooses this path it would probably be very, very profitable as the iPod is too damn expensive and not everyone wants to carry every piece of music they own everywhere they go.

1 gig device holds around 16 HOURS of music. That's plenty for the casual public trans commuter or the teen on the go. The iPod jr would allow you to put your favorite songs and the last few albums you bought to take anywhere you go. Give it a good price and they will fly off the shelves. Apple can probably get away with 512 megs of memory too.
posted by skallas at 12:57 AM on January 3, 2004


As always, the dude is so full of himself he distorts gravity the wrong way. Or something. All of his predictions, for all the years, are trivial, idiotic, self-promoting, or a combination of the three.

Watch his only non-trivial prediction this year - the one about Linux - fail. Of course, each of these predictions has significant leeway for positive interpretation, so this becomes standard prophetizing business.
posted by azazello at 1:18 AM on January 3, 2004


Im noticin so muny grammer problems in the repleyes its haurd to keep focused.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:38 AM on January 3, 2004


ebk : "Except that during major blackouts in NY and SF this year, it wasn't traumatic. The power went out, no catastrophe."

327.ca : mid-winter

I think this is the operative word. I don't recall when the blackout in SF occurred, but SF is generally pretty mild. If the blackout in NYC had happened when the temperatures were below freezing instead of during the sweltering heat of summer, I imagine it could have been much more gruesome.
posted by crunchland at 5:03 AM on January 3, 2004


On the G5 sales figures, Robert must not think that anybody else will want to follow in Virginia Tech's path and build incredibly cost effective supercomputing clusters.

It's very unlikely that anyone else will go with G5 desktops for a supercomputer cluster. For one thing, what most people want in cluster-based supercomputers are blades. Not desktops. Blades are thin computers that fit into standard racks. You'll probably be able to buy g5 blades from IBM, so why screw around with desktops?

And you can also build a similar performing system with intel chips as well.
posted by delmoi at 5:32 AM on January 3, 2004


Is blowing up a power plant really "cyberterrorism"? I mean, either the power is on or it's not. That's only one bit of information.

The power grid may have it's problems, but no one is going to be able to shut it down via 'hax0ring'.

Also, apple would never sell something called the "Ipod jr". Come on. I'm sure they could think up something better sounding that. I'd call it the Ipid, but that's just me.

Anyhoo... Yeah, these predictions are all pretty obvious.

=---=

I predict I'll win the world series of poker.
posted by delmoi at 5:39 AM on January 3, 2004


IT outsourcing, as covered ad nauseum in this column, will become a political issue in the 2004 U.S. Presidential campaign. Whichever candidate comes out in opposition to outsourcing will have the advantage. And they'll be correct, though the extent of real damage to the U.S. economy and IT industry won't be apparent to those bozos for several more years. As for the touchscreen voting scandal, nothing will be resolved or improved. Don't get me started.

I would think that this is also a non-trivial prediction.
posted by y2karl at 11:06 AM on January 3, 2004



And you can also build a similar performing system with intel chips as well.


Can you? No one's done it yet with nearly the price / performance ratio of the Big Mac cluster.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:36 PM on January 3, 2004


>Can you? No one's done it yet with nearly the price / performance ratio of the Big Mac cluster.

Good point. You really have to get into the Athlon-64 to do it cheaper.
posted by shepd at 4:03 AM on January 4, 2004


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