Predicting the future is easy; predicting what will happen next month is almost impossible. Prediction is especially difficult in the printing industry because we adapt technologies from other disciplines. The laser was not invented for print but it changed print significantly. The computer certainly changed print but it was not specifically invented for print applications.
Futurists and prognosticators even missed the Internet. No one ever predicted the Internet and yet it has changed the world.
That said, here is a list of fearless predictions I gleaned after eating bad Burrito and having a visit by the ghost of printing yet to come, who looked amazingly like Dr. Joe:
1. Biodegradable electronic devices. Old cell phones and computers will decay in traditional waste sites. Their elements came from the earth and will return to the earth.
2. Scalable 3D printing. Instead of toys and prototype parts, 3D printing will be able to “print” furniture and even small houses. It will get weird when 3D printers make other 3D printers.
3. Paper. Sometime in the future, we will discover that paper is a miraculous product that enables communication and re-cycles back to – paper.
4. Foldable screens. Remove it from your pocket, unfold it, and connect to the Internet instantly.
5. Plate-less printing. Think of re-imageable image carriers like the Dicoweb that actually work.
6. Press-less printing. Use your imagination.
7. CIP10. A standard that everyone will embrace without tricks and proprietary approaches.
8. QuarkXPress will see a major return to prominence as Adobe is forcing us to the cloud (where they can’t even protect credit card numbers).
9. Three offset press manufacturers will eventually merge.
10. Three digital printing suppliers will eventually merge
11. Three finishing companies will eventually merge.
12. The three resulting companies will then merge . . . and be acquired by Wal-Mart.
13. Our trade associations will eventually merge and represent the seven printers left in their membership.
14. Inkjet will continue to offer more alternatives than we can deal with.
15. Toxic waste will replace inkjet ink as a new form of warfare – the lethal memo.
16. Inkjet tattoo-ing will be a new business opportunity. Photographic tattoos will be common.
17. Benny Landa will invent print particles so small even the NSA will not be able to see them.
18. Quick printers will use time travel to deliver jobs yesterday. Customers will complain that this is not fast enough.
19. All printing will be done by robots. They will eventually organize and take lubrication breaks.
20. 3D printers will be made by robots and robots will be made by 3D printers. Ut oh.
21. Amazon drones will deliver products to your door. Macy’s predators disguised as Thanksgiving Day parade balloons will shoot them down.
22. Apple will introduce the ii – a product that does absolutely nothing but you must have it.
23. Mircosoft will introduce a competitive product immediately and claim that they can do nothing better than Apple.
24. Pantone will patent the visible color spectrum.
25. Google will patent the invisible color spectrum.
26. The color of the year will be white.
27. A man named Roy G. Biv will save the world.
28. All remaining trade shows will merge and be called IT. “Where are you going?” “I’m going to IT.”
29. Chinese printing will become too expensive and Asian print needs will be satisfied by nine printers in Ohio.
30. Lastly, print will still be with us in the future and all those who said print would die, will have died.