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A Look Ahead

By - December 22, 2004

Crystal Ball

Here we are again, the end of the year. Last year I did pretty well with my prognostications, mainly because I chose carefully. This time, I’m feeling a bit more reckless. A year from now, I am sure I’ll be scratching my head – what was I thinking? – but then again, that’s not such a bad place to be.

So in no particular order, here are some things that I believe have a reasonable chance of occurring in 2005 with regard to the intersection of media, technology, and search.

1. We will have a goat rodeo of sorts in the blogging/micropublishing/RSS world as commercial interests push into what many consider a “pure medium.” I’ve seen this movie before, and it ends OK. But it’s important that the debate be full throated, and so far it looks to be shaping up that way. I’m already seeing these forces at work over at Boing Boing, and I am sure they will continue. We’ll all work on figuring out ways to stick to our principles and get paid at the same time, however, I expect that things might get more contentious before they get better, and 2005 may be a more fractious year in the blogosphere as we evolve through this process.

2. Along those lines, things will not go as swimmingly as we’d like with regard to “monetization.” As the majors get into the space and start throwing around their weight and lucre, some folks will make bad decisions, and others will freeze and make no decisions at all. It will get harder to innovate before it gets easier. We’ll all be surprised by the lack of what we consider “progress” in the RSS/Blogging world, and expectations of major publishing revenues will not materialize as quickly as perhaps we think they should. However, we’ll in fact be making huge strides in understanding the path forward, it just won’t seem like it. By the end of the year, the world will begin to realize that “blogs” are in fact an extraordinarily heterogeneous ecosystem comprised of scores, if not hundreds, of different “types” of sites.

3. There will be two to five major new sites that emerge from “nowhere” to become major cultural influencers along the lines of the political bloggers of 2004. One of them will be sold to a major publisher/aggregator for what seems like a large sum of money, driving the abovementioned #2 and #1.

4. Meanwhile, the long tail will become the talk of the “old line” media world. To capture some of that value, we’ll see a slew of deals and new publishing projects from the established brands that seek to capture the idea of community journalism, affiliate commerce sales, and collaborative content creation.

5. Google will do something major with Blogger. I really have no idea what, but it’s overdue. Six Apart will grow quickly but face a crisis in its implementation as its core users demand more features that are “unbloglike” like customer databases and robust publishing support tools. This (and other things) may drive Six Apart or one of its competitors into the arms of Yahoo or AOL or even – gasp – Quark or Adobe or Marcomedia.

6. Ask will continue to consolidate traffic by buying smaller search sites.

7. Yahoo and Google will both test systems that combine local merchant inventory information with search, so that merchants can use search as a direct sales channel. By the end of the year, there will be no question that the search companies are in direct competition with the ecommerce companies, but it won’t matter – there’s room for them all. Paul Ford will continue to get droves of readers to his related, and very prescient, three year old post on how Google takes over the world.

8. Microsoft will lose search share before they gain it back later in the year when the integration of MSN search starts to scale with new versions of Office and IE . Net net, however, MSFT will gain total in total search sessions from last year, and its technology will get much, much better.

9. Firefox will near 15% of total browser share. Firefox faithful will wonder why it’s not much much higher. But MSFT will release a very good upgrade of IE, see #8.

10. A third party platform player with major economies of scale (ie eBay or Amazon) will release a search related innovation that blows everyone’s mind, and has everyone buzzing about how it redefines what’s possible in search.

11. The China question will become a critical issue to the search community. Defining the China question will in itself be a major task of 2005. How do search companies go in without being “evil”? Is the tradeoff worth it?

12. By the end of the year, there will be no question that search is a media business, and that the major players in search are major players in the content business.

13. Something major will finally happen at Tivo. We all hope that it’s a sale to Apple, but if it is a sale, it will more likely be to Comcast or DirecTv.

14. All year, Apple will be rumored to launch a video iPod, but it won’t – it’s still too early. By the end of 2005, we will just be starting to see traction in the video over IP market and its connection to search. Google will introduce Video search at some point in 05, but it will stay in Labs.

15. Mobile will finally be plugged into the web in a way that makes sense for the average user and a major mobile innovation – the kind that makes us all say – Jeez that was obvious – will occur. At the core of this innovation will be the concept of search. The outlines of such an innovation: it’ll be a way for mobile users to gather the unstructured data they leverage every day while talking on the phone and make it useful to their personal web (including email and RSS, in particular). And it will be a business that looks and feels like a Web 2.0 business – leveraging iterative web development practices, open APIs, and innovation in assembly – that makes the leap. (More on this when I start posting again).

16. Perhaps most recklessly…I will finish my book. The reviews will be mixed, as my attempt to satisfy both the exacting audience of Searchbloggers and the more general audience of a major trade hardcover may fall flat. Many will say I tried to do too much, others that I didn’t do nearly enough (how’s that for airing my deepest fears in public?!). However, I’ll be happy with the effort, and the book will do OK, thanks mainly to the support of this community. So, ahead of time, thanks for your support this past year. I learned more from this process than I ever thought possible, and I owe it all to you, who grace my site with your time and input.

17. Lastly, I will be involved in starting a new business in the field of media and technology. It will start very slowly, and I’ll screw up as much as I possibly can in the early stages, before imposing it on the rest of the world. Hopefully, you’ll all be there to keep me honest as I try to figure out a few ideas I’ve been simmering for the past year or so.

Unless there’s a major story which breaks in the next week or so, I’m signing off for the year, and look forward to resuming posting in 2005. Have a wonderful holiday, and a prosperous, healthy New Year. Oh, and please add your thoughts on 2005 below – I know I missed a lot….

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37 thoughts on “A Look Ahead

  1. MikeM says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year John.

    I am looking forward to seeing the book.

  2. fdldd says:

    GOAT RODEO RIDER NEWS
    Will your new business be a goat rodeo? What is a goat rodeo? Can I be invited to a goat rodeo? Should you launch the book at a goat rodeo? Is black tie appropriate at a goat rodeo?
    But most of all, JB, what do you REALLY think about my blog (fdldd.mindsay.com)?

  3. Re 4.
    Announced today in the Publisher’s Lunch newsletter, Wired editor Chris Anderson has signed a deal to extend his article on the power of the tail into THE LONG TAIL, a book-length version of a magazine piece about the end of “mainstream” in popular culture. Hyperion will reportedly publish the book in a major deal for just over $500,000 (as reported by NY Magazine).

    Re 17.
    Should we notify Siebel now that you’ll be needing an implementation?

    Have a wonderful holidays. This past year, it has been wonderful to read your SearchBlog, and I too look forward to The Book.

  4. great stuff, john. inspiring me to write some myself — hope to post within a few days on my fotolog…. happy holidays!

  5. Vanilla Chin says:

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog this year too. Thanks.

    One question I have regarding your predictions, though, is why you suggest that one’s principles must somehow conflict with dreaded “monetization”? I would think that its a good thing for people to be able to do what they love and get paid for it. I know that sounds like a cliche, but I think that is a very principled goal.

    Happy Holidays!

  6. Toby Patke says:

    I think this is about as good a time as any to say that I subscribe to over 75 blogs (all popular technology blogs). …and this year, your blog has been one of the few that has really added value day after day. This “year-end” post is no exception.

    Looking forward to the book.

    Happy Holidays!

  7. Re: #13: Tivo is already superannuated.

    Take a Mac + eyeTV + iTunes + Keyspan Express and you’ve got a DVR, jukebox, DVD player.

    All Apple needs to do is come out with a very tiny Mac designed to do interlaced WebTV-like video output and we’re all set.

    eyeTV doesn’t do tuning for cable boxes yet except through analog coax–they need an IR blaster or serial interface–but as soon as they do, I’m taking my old Cube, a VGA-to-video adapter, a wireless keyboard, and a 200 MB hard drive, and it becomes my entire home entertainment system.

    This is a huge opportunity for Apple, because the only missing piece is the eyeTV gap and VGA-to-video, both easily solvable.

  8. Dick Costolo says:

    This is really a great and provocative list, John. I think #15 is particularly exciting and long overdue. I hope you’re right!

  9. owensoft says:

    apple g5 laptop anybody?

  10. FeldBum says:

    Yet another prediction/hope. None of these search engines will be around in December of 2005
    http://www.georgewblog.com/2004/12/does-everyone-have-search-engine-worst.html

  11. Karl Eldon says:

    “In December 2005 John Battelle will declare #3 remarkably prescient”

  12. tonx says:

    2005: frustration with comment spam will drive someone to go on a multi-state killing spree – unless google does something wonderful like recognizing and eliminating comment spammer’s pagerank attempts, perhaps taking responsibility for its complicity in this ecosystem.

  13. After reading these, I had to do my own, JB, something a little more dangerous. I hope you like.

  14. Jack says:

    We all hope TiVo will sell to Apple? I guess I’m not ‘we’. Why would anyone want such a great toy to be owned by the most evil corporation in the industry?

  15. mike says:

    Who….f*cking….cares what a pencil-necked geek thinks about pencil-necked geekery????

  16. Hey “Mike” … why bother reading the article, then the posts, just to strike an Atlas Shrugged pose?

    Apple the most evil company ever … LoL
    Keep sipping your kool-aid and go back to sleep.

    I found John’s missives timely and not that out on a limb, actually.

    If your not going to care, try harder please.

    -J-

  17. fdldd says:

    To the reader, “mike” who wrote: Who….f*cking….cares what a pencil-necked geek thinks about pencil-necked geekery????
    I have bad news for you, “mike.” JB is not pencil necked. He is hot.

  18. Yadong says:

    Re. 15, mobile web is happening, innovations are plenty. But I don’t think there will be a single standout ‘that makes sense for the average user’. If anything, voice driven client application on mobile devices would be a good contender.

    Number 18, if I may add, is that in 2005, a high-profile blogger will be fired or ‘resign’ from the his/her day job because of improper blogging.

  19. Robert says:

    My prediction: 2005 will be the year of Bluetooth! And Apple’s stock will plunge back into the teens.

  20. Deepor says:

    Many new technology will appear in 2005, will new competitors emerge?

  21. Greg Georgas says:

    John,

    60 Minutes just did a lengthy piece on Google. Included in the piece was using a cell phone to read barcodes at supermarkets and also using search through cell phones. What are the impications here.It appears to me that for Google to announce that cell search is a future initiative along with barcode reading, they would already have some sort of agreement with the patent holders of that tech(ie. Neomedia). Is Neomedia the third party plaform player that you have listed as number 10?

    Best regards,

    Greg Georgas

  22. Jim Hopper says:

    First of all the internet has become stagnant and is in dire need of something new. All the internet providers and search engines are doing the same things. It has become so big that it is hard for any one particular provider to get an edge on the rest. My plan would do that. I am talking about something that everyone who uses the internet would be very excited about. Something that would attract customers worldwide and not only bring more customers to your internet provider, search engine and home page, but with this new service subscribers would leave the other providers and switch to yours. There is absolutely no doubt about this.

    Once again, the internet needs something new and exciting! Thank you very much for your time!

    Respectively submitted,

    Jim Hopper
    ostrchop@msn.com

  23. DJ UNIMPORTANT PREDICTS THE UNIMPORTANT FUTURE/2005:

    1. Shepard Fairey’s Andre The Giant Has A Posse project will reveal itself to be a vehicle for an international movement. (I thought you knew. Here’s the tip: One does not arbitrarily create a pure vehicle-without-substance *creative common license brand* from every single nazi-centrific (except nazi, of course) identity ever, and leave something like that lying around all over the place, and not expect someone to eventually pick it up and run.)

    2. A new method of internet reading will be produced that functions similarly to Cory Doctorow’s “Eastern Standard Time” but will incorporate the syncopation of the author’s intended authorial voice. By reading single flashing words that arrive as predetermined rhythms based on programmed syncopation replicating the author’s own presentation of the information, the tempo of display can be adjusted until reader absorption rate’s increase anywhere from 20% to 70%, thereby creating the long-anticipated demand for real electronic books.

    3. Someone with less savvitude than you or I will notice that Cannabis Culture magazine, the true largest-read marijuana magazine in the world, has a ten-page bi-monthly seed catalog and has managed to ship top-quality marijuana seed to the underground US growers for years.

    4. My mash-up of songwriter Spearhead’s Bomb The World and Head Automatica’s Brooklyn Is Burning (“track2, please”), produced by Scott Harding (aka Casualty Zero of allmusic.com’s self-immolation this year) will increase the attention I am getting by new rock stars for my guerilla-style, live and recorded obliterations of all things rock music.

    5. Videogames will be minorly upstaged as a collective form by the advent of a only part-mechanical type of participative :electronic: interaction that does not rely on narrative as much as it does imaginative real-time application of metaphor, which in turn will make use of corollaries of the recent development in human kind which has taken place. This will happen any day now, actually, as a necessary momentum or critical mass has been achieved of the assorted complimentary human who it is squired towards, and who exist in large enough quantities to constitute a buying power. Furthermore, the kinds of technology for the putting together of this sort of thing is quite common place and does not require large investments of venture capital, so anyone with a good garage and correctright-minded (is correctright a word?) friends can come up with this market-creating item in the same way Ford perfected the automobile engine in his kitchen. (Or was that the Tesla-induced motor?) So, think of it as a highly-demanded hybrid of the wireless phone, a Gameboy, and something with the (previously misunderstood) functioning of a Cloudbuster. In other words, common-market, preoccupative, functional esoterica. (See #15.) Imagine what boingboing.net being about as, in fact, the Ground Zeroing of a reinvention of commercialism that brings into play zen conciousness, *our* collective reincarnative nature, and Buddah-powered toys for everyone who are “what human beings (who are people) have become.” Got all that?

    6. People will start defining record labels and artists such as anticon and the Arrest-The-President All-Stars overground, to differentiate between people who are those who are doing interesting and moving not yet entirely noticeable things

  24. Firt of all you provide very excellent content on internet as well as search engine. At my point of view search engine also do the same as you suggested, search engien are user freindly and every one to use it. When new technology is come it will take a time to accepting. I think this is about as good a time. your blog has been one of the few that has really added value day after day.

    Regards
    Jim
    Tatvasoft

  25. Bangbus says:

    Videogames will be minorly upstaged as a collective form by the advent of a only part-mechanical type of participative :electronic: interaction that does not rely on narrative as much as it does imaginative real-time application of metaphor, which in turn will make use of corollaries of the recent development in human kind which has taken place. This will happen any day now, actually, as a necessary momentum or critical mass has been achieved of the assorted complimentary human who it is squired towards, and who exist in large enough quantities to constitute a buying power. Furthermore, the kinds of technology for the putting together of this sort of thing is quite common place and does not require large investments of venture capital, so anyone with a good garage and correctright-minded (is correctright a word?) friends can come up with this market-creating item in the same way Ford perfected the automobile engine in his kitchen. (Or was that the Tesla-induced motor?) So, think of it as a highly-demanded hybrid of the wireless phone, a Gameboy, and something with the (previously misunderstood) functioning of a Cloudbuster. In other words, common-market, preoccupative, functional esoterica. (See #15.) Imagine what boingboing.net being about as, in fact, the Ground Zeroing of a reinvention of commercialism that brings into play zen conciousness, *our* collective reincarnative nature, and Buddah-powered toys for everyone who are “what human beings (who are people) have become.” Got all that?

  26. Tzecoatl says:

    Cé qui Observabilis ? Qui y’a derrière. Quel groupuscule peu scrupuleux sur la qualité de nos dactylographies il y a derrière ? Il a un petit non, ce gas là (ou cette fille)?

  27. Bangbus says:

    interaction that does not rely on narrative as much as it does imaginative real-time application of metaphor, which in turn will make use of corollaries of the recent development in human kind which has taken place. This will happen any day now, actually, as a necessary momentum or critical mass has been achieved of the assorted complimentary human who it is squired towards, and who exist in large enough quantities to constitute a buying power. Furthermore, the kinds of technology for the putting together of this sort of thing is quite common place and does not require large investments of venture capital, so anyone with a good garage and correctright-minded (is correctright a word?) friends can come up with this market-creating item in the same way Ford perfected the automobile engine in his kitchen.

  28. Betsy Markum says:

    I can’t believe it, my co-worker just bought a car for $36355. Isn’t that crazy!

  29. site ekle says:

    Savoni says the new law violates his privacy, comparing it to America’s antiterrorism law that allows authorities to monitor Internet use without notifying the person in question.

  30. sohbet says:

    friends can come up with this market-creating item in the same way Ford perfected the automobile engine in his kitchen.

    by sevsohbet

  31. forum says:

    Ford perfected the automobile engine in his kitchen.

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  33. wow, we are nearing 2010 and m happy to say that most of the points you have mentioned in your post has been implemented in real time search. will come back at your blog to read the post about new things in 2010

  34. Really nice blog and sharing such wonderful topic thank you..

  35. Software Development Company I says:

    The kinds of technology for the putting together of this sort of thing
    is quite common.
    ite really interesting and useful article.

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