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Smart meters – boon for you, or boon for the power companies?

4. Paywave and NFC

As highly connected early adopter supergeeks, we find it increasingly weird the way the automated checkout at the supermarket demands little slips of plastic as payment, and spits out little bits of paper as acknowledgement of that payment. What’s worse, these things are so slow when it comes to handling coins.

More and more points of sale are upgrading to near-field-communication (or NFC) systems; PayWave is just one standard. Today, a chip in your traditional credit card authorises the transaction. Hopefully some time in 2013, it will become legal for the NFC functionality in your phone to do the same.

The NFC technology built into credit cards may migrate into smartphones for more ubiquitous cashless payments.

You don’t always have the right change, but you do always have your phone. NFC might not kill cash, but it will probably ultimately kill the plastic credit card, and 2013 will be the beginning of that end.

 

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.