The arrival of 2012 has sparked much speculation about the latest tech trends that will revolutionize Silicon Valley and the rest of the world in the year ahead. Although there are many exciting advances that are taking place in the technology industry right now, the following tech trends are likely to be the innovations that will drive the consumer market in 2012.


The Rise of Cloud Computing

The wonders of cloud computing have been extolled for years, but its adoption by the general public has been rather slow, thanks in large part to the inability of many companies to create a seamless product. Regardless, the ability to access a document on any device through the cloud has been the siren song of many technology companies looking to turn the Internet into its own rudimentary operating system.

Finally, it appears as if cloud computing is ready for mainstream adoption. Amazon was one of the first companies to fully embrace cloud computing with its Amazon Web Services platform, and other companies have quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Apple, which has seemed to have succeeded in every industry in the past decade except for cloud computing, has decided to devote considerable resources to its iCloud service. In addition, there is Google, a company that has been building data centers as fast as they can in order to get people to migrate away from Microsoft and towards its own suite of products.

As content becomes increasingly digitized, it is inevitable that the cloud will become an ever more important part of the daily lives of consumers.


The Maturation of the Social Web

A year ago, it seemed like Facebook was the undisputed champion of the Web 2.0 era. Indeed, the company now has more than 800 million active users, which is a vast social network that no other company can even come close to matching. However, there has been increasing speculation as to whether Facebook is running out of growth opportunities, a very important consideration given the fact that Facebook is likely to become a public company in 2012.

This maturation process is only exacerbated by other social networks that continue to nip at Facebook’s heels. Twitter, which in many ways rivals Facebook in terms of sheer popularity, has over 100 million active users. As for Google+, which has existed for less than a year, it already has approximately 90 million active users. Facebook can not breathe easily, lest it somehow inconceivably turn into another MySpace.


The Tablet Wars

It seems like for most of the past decade, Apple has had to drag the rest of the technology world kicking and screaming into an age of new ideas and innovation. There was the iPod and the iPhone, but it may be the iPad, Apple’s wildly popular mobile tablet device, that might become the most long-lasting contribution of the late Steve Jobs.

Apple has well more than half of the entire tablet market to itself, but many other companies are looking to get a piece of the action themselves. Google is looking to expand its Android mobile operating system to the tablet space, but that has been more difficult that they had imagined. However, more challengers continue to enter the ring, the most formidable of which may be Amazon with its Kindle Fire. This tablet device, introduced late last year, severely undercuts Apple’s prices and offers an ecosystem comparable to Apple’s vast app marketplace. In short, Apple may finally be facing some serious competition for the first time in the tablet market.


What are your thoughts about these tech trends…what do you see on the horizon for 2012?