GearBits' Predictions for 2007

As per tradition (OK, for at least the third time), here are my predictions for the upcoming year, 2007:

1) Apple's iPod continues PMP domination
Thought I'd start off with a safe one. Yep, I don't think too many would argue that the iPod is poised to remain the de facto standard in portable media players. Given that the #1 seller in Amazon's electronics category during the 2006 holiday season was the iPod by a significant margin, and given that accessories for all other PMPs combined amount to about 1/100th of what's available for the iPod, there's really no doubt that newcomers will have a hard time challenging the king, despite any technical advantages.

2) 802.11n gets ratified and gear floods to market
802.11n, the next generation of that family of wireless networking standards, has been forever in getting off the ground. 2007 should see its final certification, opening the gates to loads of networking hardware compliant to the new standard.

3) Film cameras all but disappear from electronics stores
While you'll still be able to find cheap disposables, it will become nearly impossible to find any mainstream electronics retailer selling more than one or two token models. $99 digital cameras from recognizable brands will become commonplace.

4) Nintendo tops Sony and Microsoft as gaming overlord
Not a big leap here, but Nintendo, through its Wii and DS lines, will lead all brands in game unit sales in 2007. Sony will retain the crown of technological leader (and work though its Blu-Ray production issues), and Microsoft will continue to play the spoiler in the industry.

5) TiVo is acquired
If this prediction was good enough to be wrong in 2006, then it's good enough for 2007 as well.

6) Google launches the GooglePhone
Google, in partnership with some handheld maker and/or carrier, will launch a branded QWERTY smartphone that natively runs its main offerings (e.g., Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Talk, etc.). Maybe I'm predicting this purely out of desire -- I so want such a device -- but I do think it will happen eventually.

7) eBay sells Skype
You heard it here first. Or maybe you didn't. Either way, this is a long-shot prediction, but I think Meg Whitman is smart enough to realize that Skype is worth more to eBay when it's owned by somebody else.

8) Palm brings Jeff Hawkins back to reinvent Treo line
The current Treo line is getting a bit long in the tooth (not to mention the now-ancient Palm OS, which Palm just repurchased the permanent rights to) and its sales are likely getting pinched by slimmer, more aesthetically appealing (while not as functional, but a lot of people by phones based on looks...kind of like how they pick boy/girlfriends in college) offerings from Motorola and others. So, since Palm doesn't seem capable of designing anything anyone wants to buy on its own, the company will announce that Jeff Hawkins is coming back to help lead the development of the next-generation Treo. And many will ask, "What took you so long?"

9) HD-DVD and Blu-Ray persist; nobody cares
More devices will be available at cheaper prices, but sales of both players and media will continue to be tepid. Not only is renting becoming the dominant mode of DVD acquisition, but the current quality of standard dual-layer DVDs is perfectly adequate for 99% of the population. Maybe in a few years, the proliferating 1080p sets will drive people to want high-def movies, but it won't be as rapid an adoption rate as the original DVD was.

10) Robots become sentient, destroy all of humanity
On a related note, iRobot's stock price will double in 2007 as a result of strong sales and the announcement that a first-gen AI will take over as President and CEO.

Have a good year, everyone!