10 tech trends for the year ahead

3. Everybody social

Social media is about to come of age. Until now, it’s been a sort of toy. Nice to see what your friends are up to, nice to update your parents without, you know, actually having to speak to them. But in 2013, we’re expecting to get some utility from this technology at last.


Google Latitude lets you see your friends' location at a glance - but they have to opt in.

The new crop of streaming media services, for instance, will use social media functionality to recommend content based on what others in your circle of friends are listening to or watching. The question of where to eat or what to do – on those days where you’re not up for wild experimentation – can already be answered by social media services. And a balance will be struck between personal privacy… and letting your friends know where you are, at a glance (at their smartphone).

2. Why own content?

We’ve mentioned the concept of keeping your music and movies in the cloud for safekeeping, but this raises another question… and exposes a rising trend. Why own that content at all?

When there’s no pretty CD or other collectible element, there are cheaper ways to hear the music you love and watch the latest movies and TV. Services like Spotify and Netflix will give you access to huge amounts of content for a single monthly fee. It might feel like you’re putting your hand in your pocket all the time… but compare it to your $10,000 CD collection that doesn’t get any bigger (your same monthly fee gives you access to new releases too).

Questions of copyright and royalty payments have kept Australia low on the agenda when it comes to rolling out these services here, but we’re becoming increasingly recognised as a market worth servicing.

Is renting rather than owning a good thing? Don’t worry – we think ultra-high-quality versions of your favourite content will still be available to buy in collector-worthy packaging. It’s just that we don’t all have to be collectors now.


With no physical packaging, streaming content services promise to free up bookshelves and cupboards for the items they were intended to store.


1. Ubiquitous computing

The nine trends we’ve identified so far see entertainment, communication and technology combine into an amazing year ahead, all made possible by one thing: ubiquitous computing.

It’s a fancy way of saying that computers – or information processing systems – are no longer big grey boxes in the study. They’re everywhere. They’ve been everywhere for the last three or four years, but until now our mobile computers have played second fiddle to the ‘real’ machine in the office. That’s changing, and changing fast: just think about the power of quad-core smartphones and TVs equipped with powerful CPUs to run everything from 3D to apps.


Computers everywhere? It's already happening


Ubiquitous computing will make 2013 a more connected year, and yes we’ll need to learn new skills to protect our privacy and defend against incessant 24-hour marketing. But the possibilities are huge, and for some the ability to live a modern life with little more than a slim smartphone and a bank account will be attractive indeed.

Here’s to 2013, an exciting year for entertainment and technology both.