Gadget Craze: Mark Anderson says high-tech shopping sprees are coming

As futurist Mark Anderson sees it, we’re all going to be buying a lot more stuff in 2012.

We’ll also have a lot more options: televisions paired with smartphone technology, computer voice-recognition software that will finally come of age and a fiery one-stop shopping destination in

Consumer demand will be the driver.

“There’s nothing but high energy in the consumption market,” Anderson said.

The technology industry foreseer gave his annual tech predictions talk Feb. 17 during a luncheon hosted by the Technology Alliance Group of Northwest Washington in Whatcom Community College’s Syre Auditorium.

Paul Grey, chair of TAG’s board of directors and CEO of Qualnetics Corporation in Bellingham, said his relationship with Anderson goes back more than two decades. The pair met while both served on the board of the Washington Software Alliance, now known as the Washington Technology Industry Association.

Grey said Anderson’s prediction talks have been a great asset to the group’s members. This is the eighth year the speaker has visited Bellingham.

“He loves to research and loves to try to connect dots, sometimes when those dots aren’t so obvious,” Grey said.

As the CEO of the Strategic News Service, an online news source for investors in the technology and communications industries, Anderson is acclaimed for his ability to correctly predict tech shifts in global markets.

He has appeared as a commentator on numerous media outlets including CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC and BBC.

Smart tech takeover

Apple Inc., the now-ubiquitous maker of the iPhone and iPad, played a major role in Anderson’s vision of the coming year.

With increasing integration of television and smartphone technology, Anderson is certain the company will race in 2012 to release the first Apple TV.

High-tech televisions capable of pairing with mobile devices and the Internet have the potential to retake the center of household gravity, Anderson said, much like they did when TVs became a must-have item for most families in the 1950s.

Mobile-device technology will continue to chart new territory as well, he said.

On the heels of Siri, the iPhone personal assistant application that responds to spoken questions and commands, Anderson said voice-recognition software is set to turn a major corner in its capabilities.

“The time has come for humans and computers to talk to each other,” he said.

More tech, more problems

With the business world’s increasing use of mobile technology and online data storage, Anderson said company owners need to take extra precautions to prevent the theft of intellectual property from computer hackers working clandestinely or for overseas competitors.

Grey said Anderson’s warnings on intellectual property theft have been a common refrain in his prediction talks.

“Over the years, Mark’s comments about ‘Watch your IP,” have been ever on my mind,” Grey said. “It just is very relevant to listen Mark, and then go back to business and say, ‘What else do I need to do to protect my IP?’”

Anderson said large companies will likely stay away from the developing technology of “cloud computing,” which stores data on networks of servers and allows users to access it from multiple computers or devices.

Due to the threat of hackers, these “clouds” will remain in the realm of start-up companies and everyday consumers, Anderson said.

Making global local

Sommer Cronck, TAG’s executive director, said in an email that Anderson’s predictions always contain useful information for company owners and employees in just about every sector of the economy.

Though many of Anderson’s predictions tackle global issues in the tech world, Cronck said it’s easy for business owners in Whatcom County to relate to his advice and apply it to their own companies.

The group’s members are fortunate to hear insights from someone so keyed in to what may lie a head, Cronck said.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re an independent bookseller or the county’s largest employer,” she said. “Mark always leaves us with something to think about and consider for the coming year.”

Mark Anderson’s 10 2012 predictions

1. TV will become the household’s new center of gravity, with increasing integration of television and smartphone technology.

2. With upheaval in the cellphone carrier world, Samsung will grow to dominate a market conquered by smartphones.

3. “Cloud computing” technology will stay in the realm of consumers and start-ups. Large companies will stay away out of fear of intellectual property theft.

4. Expect a big jump in corporate spending on digital security.

5. Apple iPhone’s Siri application will stun the world.

6. Voice-recognition software will come of age.

7. E-readers will prosper, but iPads will continue to dominate the handheld market.

8. The consumption world will explode. Brace for tons of new devices.

9. Governments and corporations will place new value on intellectual property. For public CEOs, take notice: The proliferation of hacking of sensitive intel from large companies will only grow. CEOs need to be prepared to protect themselves.

10. Amazon will have a great 2012, regardless of the economy. It will get everything it’s going after—digital streaming included. Netflix should be terrified.

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