It’s the last day of 2021, which means that a) 2022 is right around the corner and b) you’re probably not going to read this until the hangover’s worn off at least a little. That’s fine. We’re just doing a little prognosticating about the year in tech to come.
We don’t need alcoholic beverages to see into the future, though it does help from time to time. These are mostly guesses, in the same way analysts and stockbrokers are guessing what’s about to happen next. But we really wouldn’t be shocked to find that we’re not far off the mark, either. Some trends are obvious, others are logical. But sometimes things just happen, for no reason at all. Here’s what we think is in store for tech in 2022.
The chips remain down
Semiconductor supply, which was heavily strained in 2021, will remain short. This isn’t much of a prediction, however. There aren’t enough semiconductors around and it takes time to build a fabrication plant. Building chips is an exacting business, which is why all sorts of companies are getting in on the act. Expect fewer tech launches and also expect more strategic product announcements. Few companies will launch a niche item in 2022 unless they’re extremely certain it’s going to sell. This means fewer surprises and fewer companies taking chances, at least for the next while. The chip shortage was always boring, now it’s going to be even more so.
The metaverse won’t exist
That metaverse thing Mark Zuckerberg is so excited about? Expect people to keep on talking about it. More or less incessantly. Seriously, it’ll be hard to get away from in the news. But you know what won’t be turning up in 2022? The metaverse. People will speculate about it, and build products for it, and tell you they’ve launched their own versions of it. But nobody will actually produce the thing — at least, not this year. It calls for a substantial increase in computing power to be even remotely useful and while some companies are working on it (Samsung, mostly), it’ll be a while before it exists. On that note…
Virtual reality will push for acceptance
No matter what Facebook/Oculus/Meta tell you, the Oculus Quest 2 (or Quest 3, which will probably launch in 2022) is not the metaverse. No, not even if that’s what it says on the press release. No, no even if Mark goes on stage and tells you that’s what he’s done. He hasn’t. He’s lying. It’s virtual reality, and it’s still a curiosity with little applicable value. There isn’t a single thing it can do, beyond entertainment, that can’t be done with less overhead on a Zoom or Teams call. One day, perhaps, virtual reality will launch its so-called ‘killer app’ but it probably won’t be in 2022. Unless Apple launches a VR headset, in which case all bets are off. Pity we’re only expecting from 2023 or beyond. Still, virtual reality will keep trying, and that’s a good thing.
NFTs will make (and lose) money
By now you must be aware of what an NFT is. If not, here’s some reading material. Non-fungible tokens are the hot new property on the block(chain). Except they’re not property, because they’re not real. It’s as if the World of Warcraft auction house leapt out of WoW and into the real world, only you can’t use what you buy on a raid and anyone can make an exact duplicate of the thing you just spent $60,000 on. For free. Regardless, this won’t stop vast swathes of people from minting and selling NFTs in 2022, and it won’t stop people from buying them. But it’s going to get tricky. Expect scams, expect bankruptcies, and expect entire fortunes to be made overnight. Everyone might be promising lucrative NFTs, but the bottom could drop out of this one with absolutely no notice at all.
5G will expand
This is more of a regional thing. South Africa’s already got 5G in place, but expect it to extend its availabilty. This is less of a prediction and more common sense. It’s in the various mobile operators’ interest to expand access to faster network speeds, so they’re going to do it. The tricky thing will be going through ICASA — here’s a 75-page report on the current state of 5G in SA. It’s dry, but you can drink it.
Meta will make a colossal bugger-up
This also isn’t much of a prediction. This one’s just statistics. Facebook might have rebranded as Meta because they want to show that they’re shifting focus. But it’s probably got more than a little to do with the fact that ‘Facebook’ and ‘data theft’ are more or less synonyms. Mark might be confident that he’s got things under control but the social network is gigantic and there’s bound to be another massive data breach. It’s probably already happened. We just need to find out about it. Expect at least one massive revelation in 2022, because Meta’s a very large target. People fire large weapons at large targets.