Innovation Might Be The Best Forecaster Of All

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If you're tired of making your way through revenue and spending forecasts for 2005, and want to gauge what will happen in the industry next year without using them, some small but interesting innovations might be a harbinger of a good year to come:

-- Mitch Kapor offers an unofficial glimpse at the new line of Treos that can be expected:

I've pre-ordered a Treo 650 which I'm told by an insider who wishes to remain anonymous is the first Handspring unit being manufactured for quality at high production volumes. The 650 reportedly has a better keyboard (that would help) and Bluetooth support.

-- Microsoft's Susan Bradley wipes a tear from her eye as she explains what could be significant, new functionality in SBS 2003. Pay attention to any new functionality or technology rolled out into the small business space over the next few months. Solution providers have been telling CRN that the small business segment remains hot, and will likely stay hot for a while.

-- Sun's James Gosling sounds awfully excited about improvements to NetBeans, specifically technology that will improve management and functionality of mobile devices.

-- And, even though it's not a commercial product, the new XM Satellite Radio receiver, the MyFi, is scheduled to ship this week. The handheld device not only receives and plays XM's satellite radio programming, it can record up to five hours worth of content on the device's hardware. This advancement could spur significant competition with Apple's iPod. And, as we all know, when Steve Jobs finds himself with any competitive challenge, or a challenge in innovation, the entire industry is forced to take notice.

The industry is also set to enter into the world of broadline, dual-core processor technology next year with chips from both AMD and Intel.

These may be baby steps, but they are definitely steps. And against the backdrop of this morning's GDP report, the signs are positive.

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