A crystal ball for 2012

MY friend Eduardo Arriagada, the Chilean media teacher and blogger, asked me on Twitter, “Please, at least a clue for 2012—@earriagada.”

Well, why not? My own blog is small enough that I don’t have to worry about a storm of scoffing objections if present a short list of predictions. And, next December, if some items haven’t happened, well, hey, I’ve been wrong before. Maybe one of these will wind up as one of those old-style fillers in the New Yorker, titled “The clouded crystal ball.”

So here goes: What happens in the media world, and beyond, in the next year.

• We stop calling it HTML5, and just call it HTML.

• Algorithmic design becomes more sophisticated and challenges hand-built layout for tablet publications with more regular formatting (like Vanity Fair, as opposed to Wired).

• Open source rules: Android, MySQL, Drupal . . . Treesaver. 

• Treesaver gets a rival, after two years as the unchallenged HTML platform for digital publications that dynamically lay out narrative content to fit all screen sizes. Meanwhile, the open-source community pushes Treesaver in interesting directions, including wider CMS integration and personalized publications. Treesaver is the standard component in major distribution hubs (aka, portals), mostly outside the U.S.

• Web fonts are widely adapted on big web sites, as well as small. Corporations buy worldwide licenses for the fonts used in their visual brand.

• The first multi-platform ad networks emerge, where advertisers can place ads on web sites, mobile sites, and apps, with one buy, and still get full analytic feedback.

• We continue to be annoyed by intrusive alerts when we’re using mobile browsers that say something like, “Hey, would you like to drop everything and download the app? (Yes) (Ask me later) (Go shoot myself).”

• Publishers are still unable to resolve the app vs. site dilemma, and increasingly have to do both. The smart ones are able to feed an app with the same HTML as the web site.

• New versions of the browsers, like IE10, with better integration with the OS platform, enable to developers to make sites that are so much like “native” apps, the difference doesn’t matter.

• But people still want apps.

• Nobody makes a tablet better than the iPad.

• Amazon recovers from the lackluster launch of the Kindle Fire, with an update and launches in Europe, and sales soar to a total of 40 million for 2012.

• Xoom and Playbook disappear.

• HTC ships a webOS tablet.

• Windows Phone 8 makes a strong entry into the mobile market, with the help of Nokia. Doesn’t impact iOS-dominated markets like the Bay Area, Canada and Singapore, but Android growth level off.

• Adobe seems to turn away from Flash and toward HTML, but no one is sure.

• There is a surprising arrival in print: A beautifully produced A4-size lifestyle magazine with superb photographic narratives, and an eclectic design combining retro-modernist typography and punk-expressionist illustrations. The surprise is that enough people are willing to pay the $100/year subscription (for 10 issues) that the magazine breaks even within the year.

And, in other news.

• The economy starts making two steps forward for every step backwards. The unemployment level is down to 7.8 on October 1, largely because there are fewer seeking employment rather than more jobs.

• A cool summer and calm weather confounds the doomsday predictors, but only temporarily.

• The TSA again fails to actually catch a single terrorist.

• The United-Continental merger results in a near-disaster in net revenue: 1 + 1 = 1.8. Meanwhile, American idiotically buys US Airways, and Spirit goes bankrupt.

• After a scary spike during the summer, oil prices settle at $90/barrel.

• Occupy Wall Street matures into an enduring and influential political movement, still without offering an agenda that plays according to old rules. The result: An onslaught of Constitutional and legislative reforms to separate corporations from politics.

• After a degrading campaign, and a big voter turnout, only 12 incumbents in the House and Senate are re-elected. Obama wins by a thin margin.

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