Jon Fortt: Technology
1. Amazon expands it touchscreen line.
Amazon had a strong launch for its Kindle Firetablet at the end of 2011 — I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the mega-retailer will expand its touchscreen offerings in 2012. There are two directions I expect to see Amazon go: bigger and smaller. A bigger Fire will come closer to the 10-inch size of the iPad. A smaller Fire will be a phone.
2. Consolidation in cloud-computing business.
There are a lot of big companies with tens of billions of dollars in cash who haven't bought anything big in awhile. Why? High valuations. In 2012 either valuations will come down or big money will start spending anyway. The main area? Cloud and big data. A repatriation taxholiday would help.
3. Big changes for the Android market.
The Android OS gets praise for its market share, but in 2012 the splintering of the OS will start to pose major problems. Google will use Motorola to try to corral the ecosystem, but the bigger story will be Amazon's success in ripping Android's developer community apart. By year's end, there will be many Androids.
4. The return of Bill Gates
Here's what no one's saying about Windows 8: It's such a dramatic departure from the well-loved Windows 7, that one of two things will happen in 2012: It will wildly succeed and finally push Microsoftinto the mobile market, or it will fail and heads will roll. My prediction? Either way, Bill Gates will (temporarily?) take a more active role in the aftermath.