Linux, politics, and other interesting things
He predicts that within 2 years the majority of consumer machines will be laptops and have SSD (not rotational media). I predict that by the end of next year more than half of all new consumer machines that are being sold will be laptops (defined as being portable machines with the display and keyboard forming part of a single unit), and that more than half of such machines will have SSD as the primary storage (IE used for booting and for most common file access). I predict that by the end of 2010 the majority of all computers shipped (in all form factors including games consoles and servers) will have SSD as their primary storage. I predict that in late 2010 rotational media will start to go away for most tasks, but for at least the next year the model will be SSD for small/light/fast operations and rotational media for large capacity. I’m not disagreeing with Stewart, just being more precise. Also while Val made some good points about the reliability of SSD  I don’t think that this will be an obstacle in the low-end of the market. There is no little evidence of computers failing in the consumer market due to being unreliable – it seems that Microsoft has conditioned people to expect unreliability.
I predict that Sun will not release ZFS under the GPL in time for anyone to care. The release of OpenSolaris was way behind schedule and I don’t expect anything different this time around.
Stewart predicts that in five years Linux will have significantly more desktop market share than Apple. I agree and also predict that Apple will convert to the Linux kernel. I predict that Apple will become the first Linux distributor to make any significant hardware sales for the mainstream computer market (Linux bundled with hardware has already done well for mobile phones, routers, Tivo, and similar devices where the user doesn’t know what OS is running).
I predict the death of Windows mobile. I predict that in five years the mobile phone/PDA market will be dominated by Android with a variety of other Linux based phones. I predict that some time after five years the iPhone will go away.
As some Netbook class systems already have 3G networking built in it seems a logical extension to have telephony functions built in to a laptop. I predict that laptops with full telephony support will go on sale in 2010.
One promising feature in regard to laptop IO is the new Display Port  video port. It will only be an incremental improvement to the space taken for IO capacity, but I am not expecting anything revolutionary in the near future. I predict that HDMI will be a failure in the market and DVI will never gain critical market share, it will be VGA and Display Port on most systems by 2012.
Predicting that technological developments won’t happen is always risky, but I predict that the mechanical issues which separate the heavier laptops and desktop-replacements from netbooks (in terms of making a large display and keyboard that won’t break frequently) won’t be solved within five years. In the same note, I don’t expect anyone to try building a mobile phone which can have a full-size screen and keyboard connected to it (although it would be possible to do so). So I expect that the phone/PDA, Netbook, and laptop distinction will remain for at least the next 5 years.
One thing that would make sense is to have a small device (PDA or mobile phone) store data that is security relevant and connect it to full-size machines for serious work. So for example you could use a desktop machine for Internet banking (maybe in an Internet cafe) and have your mobile phone ask you to confirm the transaction and then authenticate you to the bank server. I predict a larger role for PDAs and mobile phones as computers as soon as people start to take security seriously. I won’t try and guess when that might be, but I predict that it won’t be for at least five years.
I predict that increasing oil prices will significantly make a significant impact on the price of computers before the end of 2010. Not that I expect the prices to suddenly jump upwards, it’s more likely that prices will steadily increase while at the same time new technology to reduce production expenses in other areas is introduced.
I also predict that increasing oil prices will increase the desire to maintain systems for longer periods of time without maintenance. For example my Thinkpad T41p has had a few significant part replacements (a couple of motherboards, half the case, and a few keyboard replacements). This is OK while plastic costs almost nothing and the manufacturing expenses are also very low. But in future I expect that people will want laptops that can run for years without needing part replacments and which have a service life of 10 years or more. This requirement for strength will counteract the demand for laptops that are as light as netbooks.