With just a little over two weeks to go until the New Year, technology strategists and pundits are revving their prognostication engines to predict what 2009 will usher in.
But unlike the last handful of years or so, the economic environment is dreadful, with thousands of high-tech layoffs by parched startups seeking exit strategies after coming up dry at the venture capital wells all over the country. Bellwethers may suffer layoffs, but they will largely remain intact should the recession deepen.
IBM is one of the vendors that sees the harsh economic climate as a catalyst for opportunity, particularly for Web 2.0 software in the workplace. Doug Heintzman, director of strategy for IBM's Lotus collaboration software unit, discussed technologies and trends that will change the way we work in 2009.
The answers comprise the usual mixed bag we've come to expect from IBM. UCC (unified communications and collaboration) is getting stronger, supported by SAAS (software as a service), cloud computing, mashups, Web browser technologies, free software and, of course, Linux and open source. Expect to hear more about all of these at Lotusphere 2009 next month.
However, Heintzman said IBM has changed its tune with regard to Linux, noting that the emergence of netbooks -- those cheaper, tiny laptops -- have opened a crack in Microsoft's Windows operating system hegemony. Indeed, given Microsoft's Windows control "we've been pretty cautious about declaring Linux as viable on the desktop," Heintzman told eWEEK, adding:
Heintzman, who admitted to being won over when one of his colleagues let him play with it, predicted that as more and more people begin to use netbooks for play, more robust netbooks and even desktops based on Linux will rise up as more cost-effective, secure and durable machines.
Noting that Lenovo, Dell and HP are getting into this game, Heintzman said "these whole class of cloud notebook may be the thing that changes the viability of Linux on the desktop."
As Microsoft Watch's Joe Wilcox notes on one of his many blog posts regarding threats (and opportunities) to Microsoft, manufacturers shipped 6.5 million mini-notebooks during the first three quarters, according to IDC, which predicts full-year shipments of 10.88 million, up from 181,000 last year.