The folks at ZapThink have written a report on what they think the "next big thing" will be and they call it location independence and being about the merger of the Web/SOA and mobile. As so often with bold predictions in IT... Bill Joy got there first... almost 12 years ago in fact. In 2006 he presented at MIT on "Six Webs: 10 years on" in particular he coined a term the "here" web which is all about the web that you carry around with you and via which you interact when you are on the move.
One of the bits that I think that doesn't get enough focus right now is temporalization, a sort of made up term that I take to mean "giving something a relevance in time and space". Most applications today are "location independent" and "location unaware" and the closest they get to understanding anything about time is "is it Tuesday" or lobbing something on a log-file.
If I was going to say what the next big thing would be I think it would be much more about applications becoming temporalized than it will be about them becoming location independent. If I'm a shop-owner with special offers, why would I want to put the application anywhere? What I want to do is deploy it to the cloud and have the cloud determine where to put it (for instance in the nearest mobile cell) so its then available as a service only in that location... in other words its only available "here".
This basically means that rather than applications becoming large and learning everything about geo-data like trying to work out where all the war criminals in Washington DC (A wonderful example of how searching can produce comedy) and having every application know all the other option is to go small. So a small application (e.g. an ad server) could be configured and deployed to a local market. This means that when you search for "shops" you have not only the traditional centralised approach but also the ability to "geo search" by which I mean make a query for services available at a given location. This federated model enables greater targeting but has issues in terms of service comprehension that would need to be addressed.
The final piece in the puzzle is then time. "Here" Services would need to know not only where "here" is but they would also need to know when "here" is. I don't want to be told about a show that finished yesterday or about one that is six months away. If its 11pm tell me about the Kebab shop, if its 9am tell me where to get Asprin.
So I think that Zapthink are on to something from an infrastructure perspective but I think that location and time awareness and in particular the federation of services to the "here" could really be the next big thing. Of course what I really want to know is what Bill Joy thinks today is the next big thing so I can understand what I'll be doing in 2020!