Estimated chance: 7%
Affordable 3-D printers
OK ... so, "affordable" is one of those things that's definitely in the eye of the beholder. And by some early-adopter standards, the $2,200 or so you can plunk down for a MakerBot Replicator or other 3-D printer qualifies as a bargain.
But we'd love for 2013 to be the year that these living-in-the-future devices gain enough traction for the inevitable price drop that always eventually comes with new technology. (Witness: The $1,389 VCR)
The potential of 3-D printers is one of the truly exciting promises of emerging tech. The ability to reproduce tiny parts of bigger, more complicated objects -- say, cameras, appliances, etc. -- could help consumers extend the lifespans of our increasingly disposable gadgets.
But, let's be honest. We'd probably use ours to make action figures or dinosaur skulls or a bunch of bad guys from Doctor Who.
So, yeah. Hurry up with that price drop.
Estimated chance: 46%
Made in the U.S.A.
It's not just about the goodwill they'd get from customers, although there would probably be no shortage of that.
But it's increasingly looking like good business for top tech companies to start making their products in the United States.
In 2012, we saw glimmers of hope. Apple announced that it will begin manufacturing one of its computers in the United States in 2013. Lenovo, the Chinese electronics company, announced it will be opening its first U.S. factory in North Carolina.
And Google gave "Made in the U.S.A." a shot as well, with its ill-fated Nexus Q device.
Apple, among other tech firms, has taken some lumps over reports of poor worker conditions on its assembly lines in China. Now, with production, transportation and other costs in China increasing, experts say it might not be long before it makes financial sense to move factories back to the States.
As the U.S. economy continues to slowly rebound, let's hope 2013 sees its fair share of that move.
Estimated chance: 50%
We get it.
We ask our smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices to do more, and do it faster, every year.
We also want them to be small enough to act as fashion accessories (even as their display screens get bigger). And we realize that all that surfing, texting, streaming and downloading burns power.