Forecasting New Year media trends

I believe that the Internet of today at the end of 2004 is just a tip of the iceberg for...

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS IS THE FIRST IN A TWO-PART INSTALLMENT OF MEDIA PREDICTIONS IN THE NEW YEAR. THE NEXT INSTALLMENT WILL APPEAR FRI., JAN. 21.

Early in 2004, I was starting to think that the Web was becoming rather boring. But as the year rolled on, it became a more interesting place again thanks to events like Google’s IPO and all the new competitive energies growing out of Web search, desktop search, weblog’s, podcasting and digital online media.

I have thought all along that the Internet would come back with renewed energy. Indeed, it has done so with energy to spare. Even the 9th Annual Webby Awards for 2005 are going to have a physical awards ceremony again in San Francisco in May. The term Web 2.0 was coined late in 2004 by a successful conference by the same name to describe the Web’s turnaround. Even bloggers are making money blogging. The Web is maturing into a stable platform for its vast future as the home of all human knowledge and communications. The best example of this is Google’s effort in indexing the full text of library books. I believe that the Internet of today at the end of 2004 is just a tip of the iceberg for how important the Internet will become to the world in 2005 and beyond.

The predictions that I made in January 2004 largely occurred; most of them were multi-year trends that are continuing into 2005.

Here are my 2005 Global Internet Trend Predictions:

1. MOBILE DIGITAL MEDIA EXPLODES

The growth in the availability of wired and wireless broadband connectivity has really driven the availability of very popular MP3 and Windows Media video and audio file formats. This availability of cheap bandwidth has triggered the rapid growth in content creation and transition of analog content over to digital media formats. The other two factors that have impacted the rapid growth of available digital content is the recent improvement in media file compression codec’s that have enabled small file sizes for very high quality playback and the rapid release of many inexpensive digital media playback devices. My prediction is also that smart cellular phones with large SD Cards, micro-hard drive memory and integrated Wi-Fi and high speed cellular data networks will become the primary way people view and listen to digital media in 2005 and beyond.

2. WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY GROWS FASTER

Wireless connectivity in 2005 will continue to grow in ubiquity and speed. Technologies like Wi-Fi and Wi-Max continue to rapidly evolve and get cheaper and more widely available. Cellular data network technologies like CDMA; EDGE/GSM in combination with DSP has the potential to bring ubiquity to wireless data plans for cell phones and smart phones in 2005 and beyond. This is the most significant evolving development in my list of predictions.

3. MOST NETIZENS BECOME DIGITAL CONTENT CREATORS

We are currently seeing an explosion of new content creation going on online from the rapid growth of weblogs and citizen journalism. The New Year will see individuals and companies of all kinds view points and expertise create content online. This content will take the form of audio, video and the written word. The availability of inexpensive content creation and editing software and digital recording hardware will drive this content creation. We will see whole new online media entities formed in 2005 that will make citizen journalism opportunities available to all online citizens. Recommended reading: We The Media by Dan Gilmore (http://wethemedia.oreilly.com).

4. MOBLOGS BECOME ALL THE RAGE

Mobile weblogs really are enabled by my third trend prediction for 2005. Mobile smart phones with powerful processors, memory and wireless broadband will enable digital photos to be taken, digital videos to be made and sent to weblogs and citizen journalism sites for real-time news and event coverage. For more information, visit Moblog Wikipeda Area (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moblog)

5. MEDIA SEARCH & ELECTRONIC IPTV PROGRAM GUIDES CONVERGE

The New Year will bring us all access to true media search online as digital media finally gets searchable through work being done by Google and other search engines. The indexing will not initially be of the total content, but of extensive metadata and closed caption data. With the recent expansion of metadata via ID3v2, content producers will see increased attention given to encouraging the inclusion of more extensive metadata in media files like mp3’s. Many companies like Google and TIVO will integrate media search with extensive EPG’s or Electronic Program Guides which will finally give us the software tools to intelligently search and find digital media.

Rob Greenlee is host of the WebTalk Radio Show, a Tacoma-based nationally syndicated radio and webcast show featuring technology news and interviews. He can be heard on KLAY 1180 AM at 11 a.m. or Tuesday on KVTI 90.9 FM at 10 p.m. as well as http://WebTalkRadio.com.

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