Well it’s year-end, once again. And a bunch of people are about to embarrass themselves making predictions for the coming year. These predictions
usually fall into two batches: the blatantly obvious and the ones that can be explained away when they do not happen.
The thing about the future is it’s filled with surprises and those surprises will changes apparent directions in technology, markets and politics.
So let me join the herd of inevitable prognosticators. Here are my predictions for the coming year. Please take them with a grain of salt.
1. The cellphone industry will have a massive shakeout. The top two positions will go of course to iPhone and Android. But then there will be a massive wrestling match by members of a crowded pack for that third slot. Nokia and RIM are the likely contenders, with HP’s Palm the darkest of horses in the race. I’m betting on Microsoft Windows 7 and think Nokia will abandon Symbia for it.
2. Traditional media publishing companies will collapse at a faster rate as electronic and self publish ascend at a rapid rate. EBooks will start accommodating social aspects, such as video clips, the ability to query authors and social networks built on social platforms.
3. The economy will remain tepid throughout in the US and Europe. Developing areas such as South America, Africa, South Asia will make significant gains in use of broadband technologies. These places will become the user-generated innovators of mobile technology. In short, the world will be a flatter place.
4. In the US, the American people will understand the damage of the new TeaParty members of Congress. Moderates will have no choice to defect from the Republican Party to possibly start a serious third-party. This will greatly enhance Obama’s reelection chances from what they are today.
5. It will continue to make less difference which social network you use or whether you communicate with text, sound, video or pictures. What you post will be accessible to people who wish to receive it on other networks. It will work a lot like FedEx, UPS and DHL do today.
6. The action in both consumer and business social media will be in the formation of dedicated social networks where people talk with others who care about very specific topics. Whether the networks are folded into institutions like Facebook or Twitter will be irrelevant.
7. The media and people will talk less about social media and use it more to their jobs and to communicate more with people of similar interests. 73.4% of people calling themselves social media experts today, will have moved on to other fields, most prominently the restaurant service industry.
8. The Boston Celtics will regain their rightful place as world champions in basketball. The Boston Red Sox? Well, we can only hope.
9. The Chinese government will accelerate its suppression of free speech on the Internet. Simultaneously, more Chinese people will bypass the government the censors. It will be many years before the government realizes there are too many voices and they have too few ears and that control simply cannot work.
10. Tech startups will have another flat year as early round investors continue to be dominated by clerks who think like bankers. By the end of the year, a VC shakeout will start taking shape. The survivors will be VCs who embrace big risk for big gains. The benefits of that will probably not be felt until late 2012.