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December 31, 2008

10 Predictions for 2009 In the World of Tech

Following on to last year's 10 Predictions for 2008 In the World of Tech and the recent results: My 2008 Tech Predictions Look Bad As Year Nears a Close.

1) The Real-Time Web Will Become Critical for News and Information Discovery

Delayed news will no longer be acceptable for early adopters, who will gravitate to the quickest sources of news, wherever they may be. As tools like Twitter Search and FriendFeed real-time offer people to rapidly broadcast their updates, reactions and news with true immediacy, a segment of the population will adopt these real-time sources and favor them ahead of delayed or filtered engines, including RSS, and of course, edited mass media. At the same time, while many of us early adopters may be fairly noisy about this development, we will remain in the significant minority, even as the mainstream becomes more aware of these options.

2) Businesses Will Be Expected to Be On Social Media If They Have Web Sites

In the mid and late 1990s, there was a land rush for domain names, as every company jumped in and procured Web addresses and built out Web sites to establish their electronic home. Although many of these sites were rudimentary at best, they knew they needed to be there to participate. In 2009, it will be expected that brands and businesses will be similarly established on social media, using tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed and YouTube.

3) Apple Will Introduce A Succession Plan for Steve Jobs as CEO

While Steve Jobs is not likely in imminent danger, the continued unsettled rumors, as well as a good level of common sense will push Apple to present a succession plan for Jobs, which will not take place immediately, but over the space of a few years. One to three names of potential in-house replacements will be named, as well as a timeline, as Steve fades to the background, but continues to wield tremendous power over Apple's vision and deliverables.

4) TechCrunch Will Acquire VentureBeat or Silicon Alley Insider

Mike Arrington's tech blog continues to be the influence leader in its space. Both VentureBeat and Silicon Alley Insider have forged strong brands with a financial bent which would be good additions for the TechCrunch brand as Arrington and team look to extend their umbrella and wrap up what he considers to be the best blogs. SAI in particular would offer an East Coast/financial bent that the Silicon Valley-based TechCrunch is currently not known for.

5) Android Will Have Less than 20% the Sales of iPhone in 2009

While commoditized PCs managed to put pressure on Macintosh and relegate Apple to a small market share percentage the Cupertino company is still trying to recover from back in the 1980s, history will not repeat itself, as Google's Android partners will be unable to knock the iPhone off its perch as the must-have smart phone for power Web consumers. BlackBerry will continue having a significant share in the enterprise, but it will continue to be iPhone eroding its share, not the Android, especially given the unmatched array of applications available for the iPhone which Android will not be able to match.

6) A Major Alternative to FeedBurner Will Emerge As the Service Stagnates

Google's mismanagement of FeedBurner has many people frustrated with how the feed service has been run since its acquisition last year, as the service continues to see slowness, outages, and recently went dark, shutting down their blog and being gobbled up by the AdSense team. Competitors will emerge, enabling bloggers to move their FeedBurner subscriber base and historical statistics to their new platform.

7) FriendFeed and Twitter Will Both Be Independent Through 2009

Despite Twitter's recent dance with Facebook, it will rely on its existing venture capital funding and find revenue that enables the company to stay afloat at least through the end of the year. FriendFeed, similarly, will not be acquired or merge with any other service prior to the end of 2009. The company, if necessary, will instead do a second round of funding, with its own internal sources providing much of the capital.

8) Companies Will Continue Budget and Staff Cuts Through the Third Quarter of 2009

The layoff parade in 2009 will not be limited to unprofitable companies, small companies or practically any category of companies. The doom and gloom that have hit the financial markets, advertising, real estate and almost every sector will continue through the first half of the year, before starting to see a rebound in the third quarter. You will see strong companies like Microsoft lay off thousands, and practically everyone will not be renewing contract positions that have concluded - even Google and Apple.

9) An Extremist Group Will Manage to Take Down or Deface the White House Web Site

America's political climate is extremely polarized, following the conclusion of two extremely divisive terms. As Barack Obama moves into the White House, the very features that make him a "first" will also make him and his administration the chief target for some incredibly angry and hate-filled groups. One will somehow manage to access the WhiteHouse.gov site and manipulate it this year.

10) eTrade, Digg, StumbleUpon, Skype and Yahoo! Will All Be Sold.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. eBay will want to ditch its non-core assets like StumbleUpon and Skype (I made the sale of StumbleUpon a prediction last year too). Digg, losing momentum, will sell cheap. Yahoo! will eventually be purchased by News Corporation, AOL, or even Google, assuming it passes regulatory approval, by the end of the year. Microsoft, still insulted, won't be back to the table.