Trends & predictions for SXSW 2012

Heading to the airport in a pick-up truck with the windows down, blasting country music, I thought about the week I spent in Austin, Texas. What was this year’s SXSW all about and what’s in store for next year?

Although it’s practically impossible to predict exactly what trends will be huge at next year’s SXSW, it is safe to say that the most talked about trends will have a social element.

SXSW represents a microcosm of early adopters and influencers who can either make or break a new technology.

The technology at SXSW is not new consumer electronics like phones or TVs, the type of technology announced at SXSW are applications or ways to make our lives easier and more productive.

This year’s SXSW focused mostly on mobile group messaging and location-based check-in services.

The most popular apps focused on technology’s role in our real lives, and how it can help us better interact with the real world.

According to social media analytics from SimplyMeasured, Austin logged 48,000 location-based check-ins through the five days of SXSW Interactive. Like the festival, it was about interaction and sociability.

What began in 1999, SXSW Interactive started to pick up steam into the early years of 2000. The festival garnered major attention in 2006 with keynotes from the founders of Wikipedia and Craigslist, and again in 2007 when Twitter became the main focus.

Can one say that without SXSW, Twitter may not have become the huge hit it is today? Well, we can’t give SXSW all the credit, but buzz from the festival certainly pushed the social networking site forward, faster.

For next year’s SXSW, it’s safe to say that check-in services will continue to grow with more capabilities perhaps. I’m thinking some kind of hybrid between check-in services and music applications to create some cool social music applications.

Or, perhaps video-based tweets and video sharing or editing simplified from a mobile phone. Now that would be cool!