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2006 Predictions: How Did I Do?

By - December 20, 2006

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As you all know by now, each year I prognosticate, and each year I judge how I did. This year, well, I have to say, if the only thing I got right was that Time was going to put Web 2.0 on the cover (“You” was a proxy for that, trust me), I’d be happy. But overall, I think I did OK, though I was a bit early on many things. Here’s the rundown.

1. Someone, and I do not know who, will make a big pile of Big Media video assets freely available on the web – and not via Google Video. This will be a major studio, or television company, which will realize that once you free content, content will come back to you in mashed up and remixed glory that has – holy smokes! – real business models like advertising and retail attached.

Well, not exactly, but this was certainly the year the majors started very heavy petting with letting their assets up on the web, but they most certainly did NOT let them up for remixing. Save, of course, the BBC. And, come to think of it, this is in fact a major Big Media asset. I still think this model is viable, and I still think it will happen. Stay tuned for my 2007 predictions, coming next week.

2. Google will stumble, some might say badly, but it will be significant. How? My money is on its second or third major deal – something on the order of the recent AOL deal. It may well be a loss (perceived or otherwise) in the Google Book Search case. Or it might be the privacy issue. ..

Again, not exactly, thought if you want my unvarnished opinion, the jury is still out on YouTube. The Big Media world is still extremely suspicious of Google, and supposed bribes aside, Google has yet to win them over.

3. Speaking of privacy, there will be a major court case involving the database of intentions that gets legislators talking about “protecting the common citizen” (or somesuch) from “the perils of unprotected Internet data mining” (or somesuch).

OK, I think I pretty much nailed this one, twice (once with the DOJ case, twice with AOL).

4. Google and Yahoo will both enter the video (nee television) advertising marketplace.

Google: Oh yes, indeed. Yahoo: Sure, but not like Google…yet. The company stumbled by trying a PGM-based approach with Lloyd Braun at the helm.

5. Microsoft will gain five points of search share, at least. But…

Oh man, I was totally, abjectly wrong. Microsoft LOST share. But the reason I was wrong was that Vista did not ship, which leads to my 6th prediction:

6. Vista will launch, and its much anticipated and feared desktop search integration will be viewed as anemic. The whisper as to why? Fear of the DOJ….

I have it on very good authority, really, no really good authority, that it will ship early next year. In fact, Vista did “ship“, but not to all us chickens. It shipped to Enterprise folks. So far, no search bump…

7. “Web 2.0″ will make the cover of Time Magazine, and thus its moment in the sun will have passed. However, the story that drives “Web 2.0″ will only strengthen, and folks will cast about for the next best name for the phenomenon.

Oh God, can I just gloat for a minute? I mean, really. As Time contributor Steven Johnson (a pal) wrote:

No doubt you’ve already seen that Time Magazine has cleverly named “you” as “Person Of The Year.” They’d asked me a few weeks ago to write an essay for the issue about the rise of amateurism online and my own experiences with outside.in, and in asking, they mentioned that Web 2.0 was a candidate for the cover. They’ve chosen non-people before — the computer was “machine of the year” in 1982, but as I was writing this piece, I kept thinking that putting Web 2.0 on the cover was going to be a little odd, almost like nominating “B2B Enterprise Solutions” in 2000. The way they’ve done it is much more elegant ..

Perhaps it’s elegant, but it’s Web 2.0, dammit, and it’s the cover of Time (this week!), and I can gloat. I called it. And now, well, it’s over. Even Time knows it, because they didn’t call it Web 2 on the cover, the called it “You”. But the essay by Josh Quittner, another pal, is as Web 2 as they come.

8. iTunes will begin to get the speed wobbles as the music industry decides it wants to control its distribution just like in the good old days.

I may have a hard time proving this, but I sense this is happening. We had a dustup about a Forrester report recently, and clearly the idea that Apple was vulnerable got some traction. This story will deepen in 2007. An analysis here from the Journal.

9. The massive telephony industry will begin to crush mammals left and right as its core business model continues a long and painful death dance. “Mammals” are defined as anyone who happens to be in its way as it attempts – scarily but unsuccessfully – to force a two-tiered Internet onto all of us.

This is clearly continuing. I cannot provide one succinct link about this, but I can tell you this – I have three good friends who have tried to do innovate mobile startups, and failed, due to the suffocation of the telephony industry. One of them said to me: “There is simply no innovation in mobile, we can’t get traction, period.” As for net neutrality, it’s clear we have a multi-year fight on our hands.

10. The pace of Internet startup acquisitions will not be as torrid as most entrepreneurs and VCs had hoped.

I think this is certainly true. We’ve had a nice, linear line of acquisitions this year, but nothing torrid.

11. There will be one major new IPO that briefly gets the press talking about “the Next Google.” But it won’t live up to the hype.

There may not have been a big one, but man, the story is now all about how IPOs are coming back. I was just a tad bit early on this. Just a tad. The Dow hit an all time high, and the NASDAQ is resurgent…

12. It will be a long year of head scratching and simmering disputes in the “content creation” business as the major platforms shift strategy on RSS, in particular, and blogging, broadly. In other words, we won’t get nearly as much accomplished as we hoped. At issue is how content creators export their business model through RSS aggregation platforms. Near the end of the year, though, there will be a breakthrough deal that clarifies business model standards in the RSS space.

I think the first half of this is inarguable. But instead of RSS, it should have been video. Then the whole thing would have made sense. RSS is close, close, but in the end, not the point.

13. Mobile. I repeat my mobile prediction from last year, in the hope that it will come true this year: 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.

Trust me, I was just about three months early on this, if not less. I have personal knowledge – under NDA – that this is going to happen soon. About f*cking time. This has been on my wish list for nearly three years.

14. The China Internet Bubble will begin to deflate.

Honestly, while I have heard anecdotal stories to this end, I can’t say with any authority that things have calmed down there. I’ve got some calls in to folks who know better than I…

15. Tivo and NetFlix will merge.

Shit, there are ten days left. It’s still a good idea….

16. I will not write another book, but my publisher will ask me to update the one I did write. I’ll point him to this site and leave it at that….

OK. I was 2/3rds right. I did not write another book (though I have an idea for one now, wait for the fourth installment of my PGM v CM series for that…). And my publisher *did* ask me for an update. But I failed, miserably, to convince him to just point folks to my blog, and I did write a new chapter for the paperback. Hey, it’s a great chapter!

17. My new business (FM) will grow in fits and starts. By the end of the year, it will either be close to claiming success, or a glorious and noble whiff. Either way, it’ll be one hell of a ride….

My God, has it been a whole year? I won’t gloat, but I will tell you all this: We beat my year’s estimated revenues by nearly 30%, and this fall, we were booking well over a million a month in new business. By mid January or so we’ll be announcing an amazing array of new sites joining FM, and I feel very confident that the model is viable. Perhaps FM won’t be that model’s ultimate expression, but I am so proud of what we’ve built – more than 100 sites, more than 300 million pageviews a month, a more than eight-figure annual run rate, and nearly 30 amazing people, all working toward one goal – making conversational media and marketing work for authors, entrepreneurs, and marketers. I’m very, very happy with how it’s turned out so far.

And I’m also honored by all of you, all your comments, your emails, and your attention. It’s been a crazy, busy year of growth in our industry, and I can’t wait for next year. Thanks to you all, and happy holidays. Next week, I’ll post some predictions for 2007.


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11 thoughts on “2006 Predictions: How Did I Do?

  1. JoeDuck says:

    Nice summary, and props for nailing the Time Cover – totally agree “Web 2.0″ = “you”. Rock on John!

  2. John says:

    I agree – great summary! BTW – “We’ve had a nice, linear line of acquisitions this year, but nothing torrid.” – I think this is a good thing!

  3. Time Magazine: that was an amazing prediction! It is the only one that is absolutely clear cut, either it made it or it didn’t.
    Look forward to 2007 Kazeem

  4. sohbet says:

    Time World: that was an amazing prediction! It is the only one that is absolutely clear cut, either it made it or it didn’t.

  5. Anyone else think it would be fun to come up with John Battelle’s 2007 Predictions Predictions?

    I think since he talks about NDA stuff that surely #13 will make it on the list again. Would that make it the item that will have been predicted for the most years in a row.

    I think he will also predict that there will be a major (internal) integration effort amongst the major search engines, they will remove tools that double up functionality and combine services so that they can focus more on the important stuff.

    Someone will do something really cool with the Alexia Websearch platform.

    Ask.com will continue to pick up search market share.

    Microformats will finally start to see some usefulness to find and aggregate specific types of content.

    Well thats my guesses, maybe I should have a go at making predictions for 2007 as well. Last year mine were automatically generated!
    http://jambecorp.blogspot.com/2005/12/automatic-dotcom-predictions-for-2006.html

  6. Tim Peter says:

    Great stuff, John. I’m particularly impressed with your nailing the Time magazine thing (though Newsweek did a cover piece much earlier in the year and Web 2.0 kept plugging along at least until the Time cover).

    I’d like to match up your 2007 predictions against mine in a year’s time and see who had the better average. Truth be told, if I’m half as close as your latest, I’d be pretty damn pleased. Great work.

  7. Trogdor says:

    2. Google will stumble, some might say badly, but it will be significant. Again, not exactly, thought if you want my unvarnished opinion, the jury is still out on YouTube.

    Um … Google & censorship & China, anyone? This may not have gotten the attention of People Magazine’s readership, but I’d call it significant nonetheless. Google didn’t suffer as much from it as we expected, but it did suffer, and I’d say the biggest reason it didn’t lose market share (or even out) is due to stumblings of Yahoo & Microsoft/MSN/Live.

  8. Rick Hanley says:

    Netflix-Tivo? Why? They can’t compete in download. It is absolutely a completely different space than DVD-by-mail. The studios, cables, telcos, Apple, Microsoft, (maybe Amazon, Wal-Mart, CinemaNow, Movielink, Guba, BitTorrent, Blockbuster) will own download/VOD. Netflix? Not a chance.

  9. Keith Cash says:

    That was some great predictions.

    How about this year 2007 picking superbowl winner, world series winner, etc.

    Tell us how your insites came about, crystal ball or tea leaves.

    Merry Christmas

  10. Whos wrong says:

    Looks like someone is entering some of these predictions into whoswrong.com. cool.

  11. Sounds like you are way ahead of the curve. Those could have been 2007 predictions. I personally think that the minute we replace he cable/dish box with some kind of Internet product, the wealth that is entertainment will spread through a larger section of the population.