December 24, 2009

My 2009 Tech Predictions: Mixed, But Nailed Real-Time

Another yearly tradition here on Following on to last year's 10 Predictions for 2009 In the World of Tech (and its 2008 predecessor), it makes sense to review how we fared. Recall my 2008 predictions were a complete mess. Unlike some other bloggers, who opt to pick non-controversial items and guess at obvious developments, I like to have fun each year and stretch. That's why I'll never go ten for ten. Besides, that's no fun.

As of Christmas Day 2009, here are how those ten predictions in the world of tech stand:

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

Right. Critical is a subjective word, but real-time ended up being the word of the year in 2009. It was in real-time that the world shared their reactions to the Obama inauguration, and shared feedback to the Iranian elections. It was in real-time that we saw the aircraft land in the Hudson River, with a picture posted to TwitPic alongside. While it is true that Twitter and other real-time mechanisms lack the fact-checking and robustness of more traditional media, there were many many cases that had CNN and others following real-time's lead. Real-time later became such a big deal it was integrated into Google Search and Bing, so this was a clear win.

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

Right. In 2009, the majority of businesses woke up to social media. While there are no doubt many holdouts, and even a bigger number doing a poor job, 2009 was the year that companies realized you could get business done on Facebook, Twitter and other networks. There is still much work to be done, but with tens of thousands of self-proclaimed social media experts out there, and some real help, others will make the leap.

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

Wrong. And it's too bad! While Steve Jobs was out due to liver surgery, his position was well covered by Tim Cook, Apple's COO. Cook did such a great job running the company during his absence, the company's stock is at all-time highs, and its cash hoard is multiples greater than it was at the beginning of the year, even during a global recession. It could be assumed that had Steve Jobs passed away in 2009, Cook would have maintained control - and it would make sense that Apple have an internal plan for how Steve would fade to the limelight.

That said, I would still love it even more if Steve Jobs were proven immortal.

4) TechCrunch Will Acquire VentureBeat or Silicon Alley Insider

Wrong. In 2009, TechCrunch instead acquired only one writer, MG Siegler, from VentureBeat, and MG has gone on to be one of the most recognizable faces for the site. In parallel, Silicon Alley Insider went to more of a copy and paste model, and carries many of TechCrunch's articles in excerpt form, making the whole thing more confusing. But TechCrunch didn't find any need to acquire either site and continues in its highly visible position.

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

Right. (Unless somebody can prove differently) Despite a surge in Android news and new handset introductions in the latter half of the year, including new models from HTC and Motorola, Apple's iPhone still outsold Android in a big way through the year. Though figures are difficult to get for the newest models, and the trend shows Android gaining in market share, it does not appear that their combination managed to pass 20% of the volume of iPhones in the year. 2010 will no doubt be a different story.

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

Right and Wrong. FeedBurner finally got its act together with Google this year, adopting Pubsubhubbub, and rebranding under the corporate name. In parallel, FeedBlitz launched a serious competitor to FeedBurner which could replace the service outright. It hasn't been a "major" alternative, but absolutely works if you prefer it.

7) FriendFeed and Twitter Will Both Be Independent Through 2009

Wrong. FriendFeed's sale to Facebook took many of its hard-core users by surprise, and its no doubt that many are still reeling, unsure what will happen to the popular aggregator and social network. That I linked FriendFeed and Twitter together in my prediction is unfortunate, as Twitter not only remained independent, but flourished, raising more than $100 million, and ensuring profitability, by some reports, thanks to deals with Google and Microsoft. The company's $1 billion valuation makes it a difficult target for acquisition indeed by any potential suitors.

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

Right. While recent months have seen isolated good news, especially in some parts of Silicon Valley, for the most part, companies have kept their belts tight, and unemployment remains high. While the dramatic job cutting that took place from late 2008 to mid 2009 has slowed, the recovery is not yet in perfect view.

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

Wrong. Luckily, I was wrong about this. I don't believe that some groups out there would like to make this happen, but thus far, the White House Web Site has made it through the year unscathed. Of course, that's more than we can say for our good friends at Twitter, who just a week ago were defaced by an Iranian Cyber group.

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

Wrong. (But A Little Right) Again, I failed by linking all these companies at once. eTrade and Digg stayed independent, and Yahoo! managed to keep its name despite giving up on search to Microsoft. Skype was sold, and StumbleUpon similarly was sold, back to its private investors. In my prediction last year, I said, "eBay will want to ditch its non-core assets like StumbleUpon and Skype" and yes, that happened, but we did not see the list of companies change hands as I had expected.

My 2008 predictions, made in late 2007, saw a massive 1 1/2 answers correct out of 10. Contrasted with that year, I did a little better in this calendar year, especially when it came to the expectations around the economy, real-time, and social media. But I still scored below 50%, with 4 1/2 right. We'll see how I do for 2010 when that post rolls around.