It's rather difficult to write a prediction based on an abstract concept such as Proximity. But I'll start with a consumer change that you'll recognise, and hopefully you will get the point.
In good old 2012, the majority of online searches were unrelated to where you were geographically - they were more about looking for things from your computer at home or work. But in a relatively short period of time, the mass adoption of smartphones and tablets means that your search results will increasingly be concerned not just with what you're looking for, but also where you are.
Social, Location and Mobile (SLoMo) has taken off and is set to dominate our internet consumption over the next 10 years. And for the first time in a decade, it's not clear that Google, Bing, Facebook or the other Silicon Valley players have the best solutions for helping people understand what's going on around them.
And this is about so much more than maps. There is a global advertising market out there ready to connect to the five billion mobile internet users forecast to come online in the next decade.
Hence the Proximity War - a battle between a variety of apps, services, protocols and devices designed to capitalise on location-aware connection to the internet. Here are a few of the contenders - limbering up to compete for your attention in 2013:
- Google Glasses - developers are working now on connected glasses that can be your eyes onto the world of the internet. Expect these to become available stateside during 2013. A very funny parody can be found here (mild swearing).
- Augmented Reality (AR) - applications like Aurasma and Layar let content creators overlay their content onto the real world. AR brand recognition is being tested now and AR applications are rapidly being incorporated into the basic operating systems for mobile phones.
- Near Field Communications (NFC) technologies - swiping your phone a few centimetres from connected devices to pay for goods, tickets or to trigger advertising tailored to your own profile is likely to be released in earnest in 2013.
- GPS - already around of course, but a wave of new applications filtering via GPS technology will offer an unprecedented range of social services in 2013. Think Twitter + Grinder and you have some idea.
Anyone serious about Proximity will know that the examples above remain highly experimental. For example, do people want to wear glasses connected to the internet all the time? Are you really going to hold up your mobile phone to the world in order to get a decent fix on an AR-generated brand? Would you even want all you friends to know where you are at any moment?
But this early-stage of development just means that the Proximity War of 2013 is likely to be that most marvellous of spectacles - a battle for the dominant design, with our attention as the ultimate prize.