(Pocket-lint) - 2012 is here, but what will we be talking about for the next 12 months, what will be the big trends of 2012, and what will dominate the headlines?
The easy answer is Apple, but that's boring, so instead prepare yourself to be talking a lot about the following topics, be in in the office, down the pub, or maybe just explaining it to people not so clever as yourself.
It has been around for a while we know, but with the launch of iCloud for Apple users and a strong push by virtually every company out there, as boring as it is, The Cloud will continue to dominate the headlines in 2012 as more and more services convince you that downloading or streaming your content over the Internet is the way of the future.
By the end of 2012 there is a very strong possibility that every facet of your multimedia life will be cloud based.
Wireless payments and ticketing
After years in the wilderness, it looks like NFC will finally get to enjoy the spotlight in 2012. Most of the major phone manufacturers have started embracing the tech now, and bigger players like Visa and Starbucks are also starting to promote the idea of paying without cards.
If you are heading to the Olympics expect some element of your day to involve you paying or accessing the venue without even getting out a ticket or card. Think Oyster card, but everywhere.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft are all pushing voice control and those voices are only going to get even stronger in 2012.
Rumours are already abound that Apple is looking to put the technology in a TV, while we should expect the new iPad to have the tech too.
Meanwhile Microsoft has a number of games for the Xbox 360 slated, like Mass Effect 3, that allow you to control the gameplay but talking to it if you've got the Kinect sensor plugged in.
The update to the most dominant operating system it expected at some point in 2012 meaning there will be plenty of chatter about what the new features are, whether you should upgrade, or give this one a miss.
Whether you go for it or not you'll need to make sure you read up so you've got an opinion on what's what and that included whether you are planning on upgrading to the new system.
2012 is going to be a busy year for Facebook. It will more than likely get to 1bn users, see an IPO in what is likely to be a mega $56bn+ valuation, and still make sure it fends off the challenge from other social networks like Google+.
Is it worth that much, are investors going to make any money, just how rich is Mark Zuckerberg going to be? And that's without the company changing the privacy settings once again.
You think that phone in your pocket right now is the fastest thing in the world? Well sorry to break this to you, but by this time next year it is going to look slow and outdated.
Expect the phones of 2012 to be faster, more powerful, and basically vie to replace that tablet you have or want, and even your laptop. How are they going to be faster? Well both Qualcomm and Nvidia will be rolling out updated processors with Nvidia going all out with quad-core. If you're in the US chances are you'll be pushed towards a 4G phone for greater speeds when you surf the internet. The downside of course is that you'll probably have a battery that doesn't last anywhere long as it should do.
Intel is throwing a lot of weight behind the MacBook Air challenger and with plenty of support from Asus, Acer, Toshiba, Lenovo and others like LG and HP. Expect there to be plenty of Ultrabook announcements over the next 12 months as Intel looks to promote the new form factor to you. In reality it should prompt all laptop makers to make thin laptops meaning the name will eventually mean nothing, but it will mean that either way your next laptop is going to be thin.
Read more about Ultrabooks.
2012 is an Olympic year (it is also a leap year, but that is beside the point) and that means there will be plenty of chatter on the technology to power the games, how we watch the games, how we talk about the games, and how we even go to the games.
And don't expect that to all end when the games are over, what is demoed or experienced at the London 2012 games (ticketless tickets, supervision televisions, streaming content, social networks) will be talked about for months afterwards too.
Read more about the Olympics.
Android, iOS, and WP7
The days of a phones hardware being the centre of why you are buying the phone are over. 2012 will continue to be about the operating system with Apple, Google, and Microsoft continuing to add more and more features.
For Android the next 12 months will be dominated with the roll-out of Ice Cream Sandwich and strengthening of the platform as Google try to socialise it further (Google+). It will also try and rid Android of the fragmentation issues that have so far plagued it.
For Apple it will be a continuation of leveraging the iPhone and the iPad as the ultimate controllers. Apple is all about the ecosystem and we'll see that even more of this in the next 12 months.
Meanwhile Microsoft will start to connect the dots with Windows Phone 7 (or maybe Windows Phone 8), the Xbox 360 and Windows 8 so the whole ecosystem is streamlined to such a point that it won't matter what device you use.
Tech in trouble
We love our gadgets, we all do, but as the competition continues to get tougher and tougher, companies have to make better and better gadgets to stay not just relevant, but in business.
There are a number of companies that are going to find 2012 tough. Some will have the gumption to stay in the game, others however, we believe, will either be bought or sadly close completely.
Expect casualties to include Best Buy, Kodak, Olympus, and MySpace.
Image credit: Teeth Wind Up Toys by nruboc on BigStockPhoto.com
What do you think will be the big trends in 2012? Let us know in the comments below.