4 tech rumors almost as big as iPhone 5

    By John Brandon | Small Business

    Usually rumors are... just rumors. But in the world of tech, they can help you plan your business strategy.

    Which tech rumors are bigger than the iPhone 5? Not many. In the shadow of Apple, every other tech company has to work much harder to even get on the radar of tech pundits and consumers. We already know the next version of the popular smartphone will probably run on a faster processor (the same one in the iPad 3) and feature a 4-inch screen that runs at a higher resolution.

    Yet, experts say major companies like Samsung and Sony also have a few products in the works that could lead to a sea change in how you do business. Time to prepare now for them.

    1. Samsung Flexible Display

    Samsung doesn't just make phones, tablets, and televisions. Jeff Haynes, the editor of TechBargains.com, says the Korean company appears to be ramping up production of flexible displays that use OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology that's bright and uses minimal energy. Why is this important? Flexible displays like those shown in the movie Minority Report could change how a retailer does signage, or have a major impact on law firms who still use printed legal documents.

    2. Hulu Authentication

    Here's one that might surprise you. Hulu is a popular video streaming service, but the glory days of free access to television shows may be coming to an end. HBO set the precedent: To use the HBO Go app, you have to sign in as a cable subscriber. Haynes says Hulu might move to that same authentication model as well. This could have a dramatic impact on streaming television services and products like the Roku. For small companies that work in the streaming media market, the change could be monumental.

    3. Massive MacBook Air

    OK, I had to get one Apple rumor in here. The MacBook Air is the first and one of the most popular ultrabooks. Patryk Bukowiecki, a computer consultant, says Apple may be about to release a massive new version with a large screen—something around 17 inches. That could be a major shift in the competitive ultrabook market if Apple can figure out how to keep the weight around 2 or 3 pounds, making smaller 13-inch models look quaint.

    4. Sony PlayStation 4

    Is a new PlayStation in the works? Bukowiecki says it is a possibility. The PS3 video game console, released in 2006, is a media entertainment system in disguise and can play 3D movies. For small businesses, the new console could open up a brand new market: apps. The console may become more like a smart television that plays much more than games and media.

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