Gartner Rolls Out Crystal Ball

Market research firms are in a somewhat shaky business: on one hand, they’re expected to apply their expertise and knowledge to form meaningful conclusions about the directions of particular technologies, industries, market trends, and and consumer behaviors—on the other hand, making future forecasts is a good way for these companies to shoot themselves in the foot because, if they turn out to be less-than-accurate, their reputations and bottom lines suffer.

So leading research firm Gartner Inc.‘s decision to go out on a limb with 10 major predictions on trends and market forces which will have global impacts on information technology in 2007 “and beyond” is a little bit bold. On one hand, they hedge some of their bets by saying some of these things won’t necessarily happen in 2007, just “soon” or as far out as 2010. On the other hand, some of the forecasts are pretty specific, and it’ll be all too easy to call Gartner on them if they don’t come to pass.

Among Gartner’s more interesting predictions:

Vista will be the last major release of Microsoft Windows
Gartner feels the age of monolithic operating system releases is coming to an end; instead, operating systems will be incrementally updated on a more modular basis. Naturally, Gartner feels Microsoft will be a major player in this shift.
Blogging and community contributors will peak in the first half of 2007
This particular prediction isn’t likely to go over with blog providers, sites that share everything from photos to playlists to videos and more, and services which thrive on user-generated content…but Gartner points out there are already more than 200 million ex-bloggers, and the number of people who actively participate in blogs really isn’t all that high.
By 2010, 60 percent of the worldwide cellular population will be “trackable” via an emerging “follow-me” Internet technologies
Gartner forecasts that local and national regulations protecting mobile subscriber privacy will be relaxed as growing civil protection and national safety issues become more important in the public’s eye. Furthermore, marketers will entice users to surrender some of their privacy in exchange for incentives and special deals.
By 2008, nearly half of data centers worldwide will lack the power and cooling capacity to support high-density gear
Sure, processors are getting faster and chewing less power, but that also means their density is going up, which means energy consumption and cooling costs will increase, making it more expensive to maintain high-end IT infrastructure or pay to have services hosted by others.

You can view Gartner’s complete list on their Web site, check out their podcast, and, in a fit of irony, read a blog about the predicted peak of blogging.

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