Historically, I haven’t been one to make public predictions, but at the behest of my good friend, I’m making some of my predictions public. Please feel free to criticize anything you think is outlandish or way off the mark.
Mobile developers are getting sick of building back-ends for lightweight apps (eventually, heavyweight apps, too) and will increasingly turn to 3rd-party solutions. Parse.com has a best-in-class out-of-box experience and is shipping updates every two weeks or so. Bet on them to emerge as the leader in the near term.
Occipital revitalizes augmented reality by launching API platform.
Today, augmented reality, after having a brief time in the media spotlight, has largely faded from the public’s mind. Why? Most AR products rely on simple positional technologies, like Layar, or act entirely based on image recognition from a limited set of tags, like Qualcomm. It doesn’t help that holding a phone in front of your face makes you look like a doofus.
“Sure, AR will be great one day,” we say as we dream of a future where we wear augmented reality helmets like this. And yet there are few players moving to substantially advance the state of affairs.
Luckily for us, Occipital’s crack team of computer vision experts has developed revolutionary augmented reality tech that combines both approaches, aiming to bring us one step closer to the future. Expect their API to kick ass after a mid-year launch.
For better or for worse, I imagine the first application to take advantage of it and make good $$$ will be some sort of “Yelp Monocole” for Groupon/Foursquare deals.
Wearable computing isn’t there yet.
Despite the awesome gear that Vuzix is putting out like the See-through monocular display for the Army or the trusty Tac-Eye, It probably will be 2013 before we see wearable, see-thru, heads-up displays really take off in the consumer market. By that point, startups like Occipital will be well-positioned to take advantage of the wearable technology boom.
Square blows up.
Square is THE startup to watch in the payments space. Moreover, with the launch (and success) of Square Card Case, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they start contesting Google Wallet on both sides of the POS. Especially since they have Visa’s blessing, it wouldn’t be too difficult for them to add NFC support and be off to the races.
Speaking of NFC, iPhone 5 ships with it.
Apple often likes to wait until technologies are ripe before jumping on board. In the case of NFC, they’ve put out some interesting patents in the past indicating their interest in doing NFC for ticket redemption, so don’t be surprised if we see iTunes start offering concert tickets, redeemable by iPhone.
2012 will be a make-or-break year for Google Plus.
2011 has been lukewarm for Plus and they’ll need something just shy of a miracle to compete with Facebook. My bet is that a startup will find a killer use case revolving around API integrations, connecting Google Voice, Gmail, and Google Plus. I’m especially bullish on these opportunities for building a social/personal CRM.
Android + Defense = $$$
In 2011, we’ve seen Android adopted by the Army as the basis for their “Joint Battle Command-Platform.” Also, Army Cpt. Jonathan Springer released Tactical Nav, an iPhone app for soldiers in the field. Moreover, the DISA has approved Android for use on DoD networks and released official security guidelines.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Special Forces have already been requesting a suite of apps for use on non-sanctioned, off-the-shelf devices. Something like the phone you already have in your pocket.
In 2012, now that Android has official Army, Special Forces, and DoD blessing, we’ll see serious RFPs for mobile military technology.
SxSW Breakout App
Brett and team are hard at work on some killer features, with hopes to launch a blockbuster 2.0 in time for SxSW 2012. Their team has had an influx of bright, new talent recently and I’ve spent some time getting to know them. Since they haven’t formally announced anything yet, I won’t say any more than this: look for Sonar to crush it this year in Austin.
An open source, batteries-included Android Framework emerges.
Android is an amazingly powerful platform, but it’s too cumbersome to become readily productive in. Someone needs to draw up a higher level framework to make it even easier to make awesome apps. If I can make the time for it, that someone will be me.