What we can assume will happen: A high–and growing–percentage of the world’s smartphones will run Google’s mobile operating system, whose current version is the very-pleasing-overall 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
What I hope will happen: Google and handset manufacturers will work aggressively to eradicate Android fragmentation, the unfortunate phenomenon that leaves most Android devices running outdated versions of the operating system that have been modified in ways that don’t always improve it. Assuming that Google is able to go through with its planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility, I also hope that it backtracks its promise to run the handset maker as an independent unit that doesn’t get any preferential treatment. I’d rather see it try to make the world’s greatest, best-integrated Android devices.
What I fear will happen: Nobody responsible for Android’s fate will take fragmentation all that seriously. (They might even maintain that it’s a virtue.) And the phones made by Motorola will indeed feel like they’re designed by people outside of Google rather than inside it.
(MORE: Top 20 Must-Have Android Apps)
What we can assume will happen: Microsoft will soldier on with its operating system for smartphones, which is a critical success but currently ships on fewer than two percent of all handsets.
What I hope will happen: Terry Myerson, the newly installed honcho in charge of Windows Phone, will figure out how to make it successful. Not iPhone-and-Android-killer successful–that’s not going to happen in 2012, if ever–but successful enough that consumers and software developers consider it to be a rising star.
What I fear will happen: A year from now, people will still wonder how a piece of software as nifty as Windows Phone can sell so poorly.
What we can assume will happen: Some time before 12:59pm on December 31st, 2012, RIM will finally release the first BlackBerry phones based on its all-new, QNX-based BlackBerry 10 operating system, the replacement for the rickety software used by current BlackBerry models.
What I hope will happen: The next-generation BlackBerry handsets will be spectacular–so spectacular that the line is instantly vibrant and viable, not tired and troubled. The tech punditocracy will stop calling for the ouster of RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie and start congratulating them on pulling off an amazing turnaround.
What I fear will happen: Like other recent RIM products such as the BlackBerry Storm, the BlackBerry Torch and the BlackBerry PlayBook, the next BlackBerry phones will look good in demos but prove to be meh–at best–in real life. As a result, people will refer to RIM in the past tense more than ever.
(MORE: The Tragic Decline of BlackBerry)