Tech Predictions for 2023


Only fools try to predict the future. You can read my earlier predictions, or dig deep into my archives and rate me on how foolish I am.

I tend to look at technology through the lens of "what do I want to happen?" and then assume the worst. So, here goes!

Federation Gets Simpler

As I wrote about in The Social Pendulum we see a swing to extremes of culture. We've had a decade-or-so of big central social networks. Now we're swinging the other way.

Will Twitter, Tumblr, or Flickr start using ActivityPub? I doubt it. But there will be more and more "one-click" installs of personal social networking. It's dead easy to install WordPress these days - I expect Mastodon and Pixelfed to become the same.

With that, I think more news organisations will start to be on the Fediverse. You'll follow @LoisLane@TheDaily.Planet for Pulitzer Prize winning journalism.

Will a brand start offering customer service on the Fediverse? I think that's less likely - they are probably too tied in to the advertising ecosystem of Facebook and Twitter. When you interact with them on those platforms, it sends a strong signal to the content algorithms.

The "problem" that the Fediverse has at the moment is that it has no investors. Which means there's no one to pay for stunts like this:

Will Mastodon survive on organic growth? I hope so. But it probably needs a big event to bring the masses there.

Apple Gets Sauced

I dislike Apple products - but I'm glad they exist. I wish there were more competition than just Android and iOS.

Apple, institutionally, feels the opposite way. I truly believe that they think Apple is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. And that the heretic scum using lesser operating systems should be purged.

So I hope that Apple gets a kick up the bracket and has to open its walled garden a little. Revoking the Apple browser ban will probably lead to a Chrome monopoly, which would be sad. And opening up to alternative app stores might make consumers less safe. But that's necessary competition to force Apple to improve its products.

Perhaps it'll just end up with Apple capitulating to USB-C. But I bet, somehow, they find a way to make it non-standard.

Mobile Technology

I quit the mobile industry about 6 years ago. As I said to Wired:

“We’ve reached an inflection point where things are good enough. If we look at the big sellers at the moment, it’s stuff that’s plateau-level. People have reached a level where they are happy – apart from with their battery life, of course.”

I still maintain that. 5G is a bit faster. Screens are a bit denser. Cameras are significantly better. But... that's about it. iOS's depth-mapping stuff is fun, but isn't exactly a must-have.

All phones look like anonymous black rectangles. Some are cheap Shenzen specials. Others are fragile super-computers.

There's no money left in mobile networks selling services. You can get unlimited calls, text, data for about a tenner. All that's left is loaning you the money to buy an expensive phone and then resell the debt as a Collateralized Debt Obligation. And I don't know how sustainable that is.

I've long argued that mobile infrastructure needs to be a TransCo with a Universal Service Obligation. It's simply too wasteful to put up multiple masts from competitors. I expect, in the next year or so, one of the major UK networks will either go bust or be forced to merge with a competitor.

Energy Prices

The UK has been experimenting with domestic load shedding. I hope - if these trials have been successful - that we'll see more smart appliances which use look-ahead energy pricing to optimise their efficiency.

I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post called "What if your Internet Connected Fridge came with free electricity?" In it, I postulated that an appliance company would bulk buy electricity and sell it with the fridge. That's probably a little too far-fetched.

But I expect a freezer will come out with a link to your smart meter. It will use the data from that to adjust its cooling cycle so it aligns with cheaper energy periods. What else will this extend to?

Perhaps your PS5 will shift to 720p mode for a few hours when the energy mix is at its dirtiest?

Enter The Metaverse

I have an Oculus Quest 2 Headset. When I remember to charge it and put it on, it is pretty neat! The games are OK, and some of the experiences are interesting. But the Metaverse is a Dead Mall. There's no one there. When I go to any of the big experiences, all I find is a handful of people going "is this it?" and then complaining about the many graphical glitches.

Zuck has focussed on socialising because wearing a headset is a fundamentally alienating thing to do.

But the people who like to socialise are already have two options - go out and have fun, or wear a voice-only headset and shout at each other while playing a console game. VR headsets are hot, heavy, uncomfortable, and battery hungry.

But...

There is something there.

I genuinely think holding Serious Business Meeting in the Metaverse is the fucking stupidest thing I've ever seen. Watching VR movies? It's cheaper to get a small projector. The games are good - but the graphics are better on a console.

There is a killer app for VR. But it won't emerge in 2023. In fact, it won't emerge until Shezen start making good enough copies of the hardware at bargain prices.

What did I get wrong?

Please put a note in your diaries to come back here in 12 months and tell me all the ways my predictions failed.


6 thoughts on “Tech Predictions for 2023

  1. says:

    Regarding the UK mobile phone networks, I actually had to remind myself just now which ones are left... just four: O2, Vodafone, EE & Three. Since EE has joined forces with BT, and O2 with Virgin Media, who's got the pockets deep enough to snag Vodafone or (perhaps more likely) Three? I can't see a Vodafone-Three merger getting approval unless the competition regulars are ordered by someone to wave it through. (Given the makeup of our current government, that is a possibility.) But perhaps the network that turns their toes up turns out to be one of the other two, either through their own failure or because BT or Virgin get cold feet...

    I suspect that Apple will open up just enough to a) appease the EU, and b) give Epic, Meta, Google and others enough rope for nooses. I say that because none of those parties will be fully satisfied and will keep complaining, but it'll become obvious that what they really want is to bypass iOS / iPadOS entirely so they can Collect All The Info at their leisure. That will not end well... for them.

    Your prediction on Fediverse stuff getting easier to install and manage is probably the safest one, though it'll be interesting to see who forks and how they go about it.

  2. Neil Lawrence says:

    I wasn't aware of the Apple browser ban - I've been using Brave on my iPhone for a while, and I see that Firefox is available too.

    On the USB-C compliance they are most likely to jump to wireless only charging and drop another port

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