December 31, 2010

Batting .400 For My 2010 Predictions in the Tech World

At the end of each year, it has been something of a tradition to make wild predictions that few others are making, and then mock myself for those I got wrong. This year should be no different. At the end of 2009, I made concrete predictions for the world of tech, which assumed a strong IPO market, increased acquisitions and some specifics from the big players, including Apple and Google. As usual, I got some right, and others wrong. Let's see how I fared.

History: Predictions for 2010, 2009 and 2008. Results for 2009 and 2008.

1. Twitter Manages to Complete 2010 With No Major Hacking or Security Incidents

Right. After a shaky start to the company's life in terms of both scale and security, Twitter really held its own in 2010. They didn't get hacked and for the most part, they stayed up. There were no large-scale hacking incidents for major users and no strategy docs leaked to TechCrunch. It's the little things.

2. Seeing Android and iPhone, Windows Mobile Will Aim for Parity, and Fail

Right. Fail is a strong word, so maybe I'm presumptuous here. But Windows Phone 7 is absolutely an approach to take on Android and iPhone, and early reports haven't been great in terms of sales. Given the late launch of the product, I would have to take more of a wait and see attitude to see the final result, but thus far, it'd be a stretch to see them in a strong #3 role in the smartphone race.

3. Apple Will End Exclusivity With AT&T, Adding T-Mobile and Verizon

Wrong. Another year went by with AT&T acting as Apple's boat anchor. Rumors again are flaring up around Verizon, but not in time for 2010 to be counted.

4. Facebook Will Announce a Migration Plan for FriendFeed Users

Wrong. FriendFeed is still there, just as it always was, with a dedicated community, not going anywhere. Facebook keeps it alive even though many of the acquired FriendFeed team have since left.

5. Google Wave Will Exit 2010 Still In Beta

Wrong. I expected Google Wave to not be ready enough to consider a solid product, but I certainly didn't anticipate the product being axed outright. Even by Google's standards, that was a very short-lived product.

6. Facebook, Zynga, LinkedIn Will All Go Public

Wrong. Not even close. One thing I hadn't anticipated relative to historic activity was the strong role played by Russia's DST, who has made hundreds of millions of dollars available to late-stage companies like Facebook, Zynga and others. The increased demands of going public at a time when rewards for late stage investment are so high has reduced the need to go public early in a company's life cycle.

7. Chrome OS Netbooks Will Be Available from Major Retailers

Wrong. I may have a Chrome OS Notebook, but it came straight from Google in an early trial. It's too early for this product to be sitting at Best Buy or Fry's, but maybe this changes next year some time.

8. Many Social Media Experts Will Launch Mediocre Agencies

Right. I am sure this is true and don't even have to go back it up. :) Even in looking at some of the lesser-read tech blogs that infiltrate my Google Reader, I can see a lot of folks took side jobs as independent consultants focused on social media, and it doesn't seem they are all that differentiated. Feedback from companies I have worked with in various roles indicates they are pitched often by SMEs with sleazy tactics.

9. Google, Facebook and Apple Will All Make $1B+ Acquisitions

Wrong. Not that it was Google's fault of course. The company made very visible overtures to Groupon and allegedly to Twitter as well, with no success. Facebook remains cheap, while Apple did its spending on Quattro Wireless and Siri early in the year, at prices less than a billion bucks.

10. The Real-Time Search Market Will Consolidate

Right. Very much so. OneRiot got out of the real-time search game altogether and launched an ad network. Twazzup's founders launched a Twitter client and later the Facebook iPad app Friendly instead of focusing on search. Collecta and Topsy are still out there, but I would venture a guess that most users will just turn to Twitter and Google for real-time search instead of going to the lesser-known startups.

Total score? 4 out of 10, just about where I usually bat, not because I am a bad guesser, but because I don't like guessing the obvious and would rather have some fun with each year's predictions. In 2009's predictions, I scored 4 1/2, and only 1 1/2 for 2008. Maybe I'll break 50% next year and maybe not.

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