Making the Grade in 2012

When I made my predictions for 2012 in January (, the Las Vegas tech scene was just starting to take off, Facebook was still a private company, and it seemed like Internet poker in Nevada was just around the corner. Now the local scene is more mature, Facebook’s rocky IPO frustrated some investors but didn’t dent the site’s popularity, and it still seems like Internet poker in Nevada is just around the corner. While my predictions were far from perfect, I was close to the mark on most of them.

Ubiquitous social networking—YES

Twitter and Facebook links have become standard for businesses. Apple integrated both services into its latest IOS. And people are increasingly trading Facebook information instead of phone numbers.

The rise of Google+—NO

Google+ isn’t likely to disappear soon, but it will never be a Facebook killer—and it hasn’t even found a significant niche like LinkedIn.

The death of Blackberry—NOT YET

Blackberry developer Research in Motion had a bad year, with more financial trouble and network outages. And Blackberry faithful continue to defect to other platforms. But the dramatic acquisition or bankruptcy I predicted hasn’t happened—yet.

Android finally presents serious competition to Apple—YES

Android smartphones outsell iPhones 3-to-1. Android tablets such as the Amazon Kindle Fire HD provide solid iPad alternatives for less money. Apple still has a light edge in usability, but even that’s changing.

More context-aware mobile devices—NO

Context-aware services have improved only slightly. More smartphone apps use GPS, but sometimes for little apparent reason. You can search for information about an image using Google Goggles, but the mainstream shift I expected is nowhere in sight.

More voice control—NOT YET

Siri, the voice-control app for the iPhone, got a major upgrade and should soon be integrated into many vehicles. But I expected more competing voice apps integrated into more devices. Voice control is developing, but not as fast as I expected.

Cloud computing: More common and less visible—YES

The shift to cloud computing is definitely in full swing. Apple and Android devices seamlessly sync to the cloud in the background. Both individuals and businesses regularly back up and sync to the cloud—sometimes so automatically they don’t even realize it.

More tech startups in Las Vegas—YES

The co-working options downtown didn’t expand like I anticipated, but thanks in part to programs such as the Vegas Tech Fund, more startups than ever were founded in or moved to Las Vegas, such as electronic-publishing company Not Safe For Work, e-mail marketers LaunchBit and bowling innovator Rolltech.

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After a year on the sideline, Khem Birch is set to make his UNLV debut Monday at UTEP, and it's hard to say who the wait has been harder on — Birch himself, or the Rebels fans who have been anticipating this day ever since he transferred from Pitt. The 6-foot-9 center comes with high expectations. A former McDonald's All-American, Birch has elite shot-blocking ability and could transform the UNLV defense. And his arrival comes at an opportune time, as the Rebels frontcourt has been thinned by Mike Moser's elbow injury.



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