Technology is ruled by a handful of high-achieving multinationals whose ‘friendly’ competition keeps our gadgetry evolving. But what would happen if these big guns joined forces to take over the world? T3 imagines a terrifying, if tantalising, future…
The mutant offspring of the two major Japanese superpowers would be a Godzilla-like behemoth, towering over the Tokyo skyline and breathing fire down at any smaller tech company in its path. All products begot of this unholy Panasonic-Sony union would work with each other – but not with any other tech or any standards used by everyone else, of course – and could be programmed to join together to form one giant AIBO-esque robot dog with a TV for a body, camcorders for legs and a MP3 player for a head. The little fella would be fed on only the finest lithium-ion tidbits and trained to cock his leg on competitors’ shops.
Fresh from its successes with the search engine that no one uses (Bing) and the mobile operating system that’s a bit like Android and iOS but with fewer handsets (Windows Phone 7), Microsoft enters the social networking game by joining forces with MySpace, the network that time forgot. Logging on to it would feel like walking into a party two hours after everyone else has left, a bit like Geocities. Remember that? Exactly.
Nintendo needs to push its online strategy in the face of Xbox Live – BBC iPlayer, weather, news and a site where you dress your Mii up as Chris Eubank won’t cut it – and Twitter could use another string to its bow. It’s a match made in heaven. Expect endless in-game chatter and graphics so twee they’d make tweenage girls retch. Watch the Matt Parker and Trey Stone short animation Princess on YouTube and you’ll get the gist.
Facebook reimagined by Apple would be the hottest hook-up since Wills and Kate. It’d be much more usable, as you’d be able to update your status by dragging and dropping set phrases, then pinch-zooming them into the most aesthetically pleasing shape. Also, no ugly people would be allowed to join, like Abercrombie & Fitch but with more black turtlenecks.
While Rockstar and Nintendo have flirted with each other in the past – Table Tennis on Wii, Chinatown Wars on DS – this would be a proper cultural collision. Expect GTA expansion packs in which Mario necks a load of mushrooms and pimps Link to flamboyant gay crime boss Toad before jumping repeatedly on his head and stealing back the cash. Donkey Kong is already readying for his sadistic mob enforcer cameo in LA Noire 2.
The two Korean titans of tech, Samsung and LG, finally merge to produce hybrid products from both their ranges. Expect mobiles that use 42-inch telly screens, Chromebooks with 12-meg cameras on the back, camcorders with a paltry selection of apps, tablets that double as projectors, and washing machines that let you social network, so you can quite literally air your dirty laundry in public.
The Taiwanese mobile-phone master hooks up with FourSquare to produce a location-based service that lets you find other non-Apple users in your vicinity, so you can chat to them about how much better Android 2.3 is than iOS 5, how anyone who uses Apple is an unthinking automaton, and how “quietly brilliant” you are, if you say so yourself. The battle to become the Mayor of iPhonehatesville would reach legendary levels of intensity.
8. Google TT
Imagine Google’s army of camera-bedecked cars working with TomTom on a mapping service that is actually accurate – check out www.googlemapsfail.tumblr.com to see past indiscretions. Features would include real-time updates on every piece of chewing gum stuck to the pavement and a live stream of your current whereabouts sent directly to your Google+ account. Not that you’d know, as you never check it.
With the micro-blogging service and BBM combined, nobody would need to ever communicate verbally again. Businessmen would be able to contact the office while informing the world they’d “just BBMed the office. LOL!”, while youths in hoodies would have the ultimate tool for organising cultural visits to local branches of Comet. Ahem.
Nokia and Microsoft, two former greats, both still tick along financially, but neither could be described as “cutting edge”. Yet with the former’s hardware and the latter’s mobile OS, they could take the frightening step into modernity… Oh, hang on, this is actually happening.