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Predictions 2010: How Did I Do?

By - December 27, 2010

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Predictions 2010

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2009 How I Did

2008 Predictions

2008 How I Did

2007 Predictions

2007 How I Did
2006 Predictions
2006 How I Did
2005 Predictions
2005 How I Did
2004 Predictions

2004 How I Did

Well, it’s that time of year again, time to see how well, or poorly, I did predicting events in the past year. This is my “keep myself honest” post, next week, I hope, I’ll post my predictions for 2011.

So how did I do for 2010? Overall, I’d say it was a mixed year, but by my score, I hit 7 of 12, with 3 pushes and two outright fails. A fair amount is open to interpretation, as we will see. To the results:

Prediction #1: 2010 will mark the beginning of the end of US dominance of the web. This is a pretty soft one to prove, but I think it’s certainly defensible. First of all, the “rest of the world” is growing far more quickly than the US in terms of Internet use, growth, and related development. In the broader economy, China looms large, and is already far larger than the US in Internet population. In terms of startups, I’d have to say we’re not there yet – the US is still the center of innovation, at least for scaled platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Groupon. But I only predicted that this would be the *start* of this shift, so I’d say the jury is out on whether I was right. But hey, Fred agrees with me…Score: Push.

Prediction #2: Google will make a corporate decision to become seen as a software brand rather than as “just a search engine.” I think this clearly happened in 2010. With both Android and Google Apps in the center of its strategy, Google and its partners poured hundreds of millions of dollars into building the Google brand to mean “an excellent software platform” and next to nothing (OK, one Superbowl ad) into the brand meaning “Search.” Score: +1.

Prediction #3: 2010 will see a major privacy brouhaha, not unlike the AOL search debacle but around social and/or advertising related data. OK, maybe this was a layup, but wow, did this come true, in spades. Take your pick, was it Google’s Street View data collection? Or maybe Facebook’s half-year long meltdown, beginning with sharing all data with search, and ending with the Open Graph? (Not to mention Google Buzz!) In any case, privacy has become the center of attention in Washington, with multiple investigations and pending legislation all brewing, in particular around social and advertising data. 2010 will be remembered as the year privacy took center stage. Score: +1.

Prediction #4: By year’s end the web will have seen a significant new development in user interface design. Well, again, I think this one happened. Not only did Gawker “redefine” what a blog is, the rise of the tablet and touch interfaces, as well as shifts to gestural in gaming (Kinect) have shifted how the web is consumed and produced. 2010 was most certainly the year the web pivoted from boring old HTML to a new approach to user interface based on touch and gesture, not to mention voice (which is coming hard on touch’s heels). Score: +1.

Prediction #5: Apple’s “iTablet” will disappoint. I know, I know, it sure seems like I blew this one. But remember folks, the iPad did in fact disappoint, nearly everyone, when it was announced. It was pretty much universally panned for not having a camera, being the wrong size, being a self-contained universe that shunned the open web, Flash, etc. So in a way, I was right. Then again, the thing went on to be the biggest hit since the iPod, so I was wrong too. I’d score this a push.

Prediction #6: 2010 will see the rise of an open gaming platform. Alas, this did not happen. I thought Microsoft would open up Kinect, as the technology has massive potential. So far, it has not, and no one else has done anything either. Score: -1.

Prediction #7: Traditional search results will deteriorate to the point that folks begin to question search’s validity as a service. I think it’s hard to argue with the overall decline in search results as a core driver of web navigation. Social is clearly on the upswing, and in general, the rise of content farms and the stirrings of data wars between Google and Facebook have meant that search is no longer the presumed king of the web. However, I don’t think it got as bad as I predicted it would, so I give myself a fail on this one, but I predict I’m right here in the long run. Here’s more on why. Score: -1.

Prediction #8: Bing will move to a strong but distant second in search, eclipsing Yahoo in share. This happened, depending on who’s counting, and if you take the Yahoo/Microsoft search deal into account, it clearly happened. Score: +1.

Prediction #9: Internet advertising will see a sharp increase…and most predictive models are not accounting for this rise. I was right on this one as well. Not only did online spend eclipse newspaper spend, but online suprised most forecasters with significant double digit (14% at least) Y/Y growth. By comparison, overall ad spending grew just 3% in the US. That’s sharp by my book. Score: +1.

Prediction #10: The tech/Internet industry will see a surge in quality IPOs. Well, I thought this one would be a layup, and instead, it’s at the very least a push. We did have a surge in filings, but we did not see a ton of companies go public, though compared to 2009, one could easily call this year’s lineup a relative surge. It was the busiest IPO year (overall) since 2007, but we did not see action where we might have expected – from Facebook, LinkedIn, Zynga, or even companies like MediaBank. We did see important filings from Hulu, Betfair, Demand and Skype, but neither have made it out so far. In fact, I did make another related prediction: one, if not more will be withdrawn. That happened, just this month, with Hulu. I’d score this one a push.

Prediction #11: We’ll see a major step forward in breaking the man/machine barrier. I honestly don’t know if this came true. I do know that when machines can translate poetry, and the creation of synthetic life, the strong advances in gene sequencing, and the reprogramming of cells, we’re certainly making progress. I’m out of my depth here, so readers, did this prediction come true or not?! For now, I’ll punt and call it a push.

Prediction #12: I’ll figure out what I want to do with my book. Yep, I’ve figured it out. More on that early next year. Score: +1.

So, overall, 3 pushes, 2 fails, and 7 wins. That’s not a bad year. How do you think I did?

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33 thoughts on “Predictions 2010: How Did I Do?

  1. Grover says:

    Fantastic job overall. But I’d call #5 more of a fail than a push. The iPad at this point has been universally hailed as a massive success and has created a whole new category of computing. And just look at the sales numbers.

    That said I think you can move #11 from push to win. We created synthetic life! Don’t be so hard on yourself.

  2. Chris says:

    #2, Isn’t mobile search bigger than the mobile OS market? Aren’t they just utilizing their ability to create a create software platform to ensure a similar success in mobile search as they enjoy in the browser? If GOOG can maintain similar share in mobile won’t that business easily eclipse any incremental increases in the Android’s (financial) viability? Via Twitter (and TC), “Even if Android makes $0, it has turned out to be a cheaper way to get search defaults on smartphones than paying carriers & Apple.” Microsoft’s Dare Obasanjo. Is the whole strategy a subterfuge? If it is, then GOOG is still very much a Search company and brand.

    #5 iPad is the single most important piece of hardware since….the iPhone. No way you can argue with this.

    Sitting in a SF coffee shop the other day, a woman with three girls all between 8-13 walked in and sat down at a table and pulled out TWO iPads. She gave one to her girls and used the other one for herself.

    I asked her how she liked it. She said it was her favorite ‘computer’ she ever owned and never used her laptop anymore. I assumed she was another tech savvy bay area resident; she was from Indianapolis.

    Name one other product that would introduce a new format and UI with a relatively new OS that has been this universally accepted within LESS than a year. You’ve been doing this longer than me, has there been any other (single) piece of hardware that has achieved this sort of user acceptance or affinity?

  3. Olivier says:

    I agree with the two commenters above. I don’t see how you can call your 5th prediction a push? “The use case is missing” … Not according the million of people who bought it, including myself. Congrats on the rest though. It is pretty amazing. Looking forward to your 2011 predictions. Happy New Year.

  4. Jordan says:

    How is Gawker’s redefining of what a blog is = significant new development in UI? Am I missing something? Doesn’t seem the same thing to me…

  5. Chao Lam says:

    Isn’t Facebook an open gaming platform?

  6. Mike says:

    I’m not an Apple fanboy, but I’ve gotta join the other commenters in saying that the iPad was definitely not a disappointment. The iPhone was also panned by a bunch of critics at the 2007 launch for lacking certain features, but by any other measure it was a huge success. Same goes with the iPad. If your predictions are supposed to cover 2010 as a whole, you shouldn’t put so much weight on critics’ immediate reactions after the iPad’s introduction.

  7. Todd Sieling says:

    I’m having a hard time understanding how early critiques of the ipad by people talking without first hand experience (in other words, bloggers) matches the clear success the device has had in the market. That’s not a balanced push to me.

    But what is demonstrably wrong is that “a self-contained universe that shunned the open web, Flash, etc.” Sorry, but what’s the ‘etc.’ in there? Can you name it? Mobile Safari has among the first and best support for HTML5, and Flash is a closed proprietary framework; in other words, Flash is not open. Many web apps work without modification on the iPad, and it’s very difficult to see how this squares with “a self-contained universe that shunned the open web.” In fact, it’s more than hard to square, it’s completely indefensible. You have great insights John and much to be proud of in your 2010 predictions, but that one is way off the mark by any objective measure. I see a 2011 resolution of ‘more facts less flame-bait’ close at hand 🙂

  8. not-so-convinced says:

    Not convinced. Most of these predictions are subjective as always you make. Many of the predictions you made could have been claimed just last year too. Just look at prediction #8. The deal with Yahoo was announced even before you made the prediction, but you claimed +1.

    Try making measurable objective prediction such as Bing search share will be XYZ% without yahoo and with Yahoo ABC%.

    For precition #9, whatever you considered sharp, you should have defined sharp last year itself.

    In my books you are one of the worst predictors (or best in terms of making predictions which can be claimed true irrespective of what happened).

    Let me make just one prediction and that will come out to be true just next month.

    Prediction #1: John Battelle will make another set of foggy predictions, most of which either are already true or well expected to be true, or can be claimed to be true anyways.

  9. davidi says:

    what I like on visiting here is not only the great content but also the great commenter, I’m agree with the second commenter above.

  10. I also have to agree that your prediction for the iPad is a fail. The initial reaction might have been lukewarm but that was more because of crazy expectations and unfamiliarity with the new device.

    Looking forward to your predictions. It has become a holiday tradition for me to read your scores and predictions for next year..

  11. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog,especially on this post. Keep up the good work.

  12. Antonis says:

    Hehehe i have to say i was expecting your answer to your 2010 prediction regarding ipad…and i think i have to agree with the people’s comments before me.

    No matter what the critics said regarding the ipad i think what it matters in the end is the success that it had with its customers. Ipad sold thousands (millions?) copies and created a new trend and a new category of products that quickly other companies tried to follow producing there own tables. Steve Jobs managed again to create a new product and convince us that we need it…and he made money out of it…so it was a success and …a failure on your prediction 🙂

    Have a happy new year 🙂

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  14. Software Search Engine says:

    Important information for me. Thanks for really competent informative article. Ill be in touch with U

  15. Not to bad… Who do you have winning the Superbowl? lol All the best to you in the New Year!

  16. First of all I care for the quality of your post. That was interesting to read and helpful article. And Im lookin’ forward to see your next thinks.

  17. caktakim says:

    I agree with the two commenters above. I don’t see how you can call your 5th prediction a push? “The use case is missing” … Not according the million of people who bought it, including myself. Congrats on the rest though. It is pretty amazing. Looking forward to your 2011 predictions. Happy New Year.

  18. jessica says:

    Thank you for another essential article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a complete way of writing? I have a presentation incoming week, and I am on the lookout for such information

  19. Looking forward to your predictions. It has become a holiday tradition for me to read your scores and predictions for next year

  20. General News says:

    No matter what the critics said regarding the ipad i think what it matters in the end is the success that it had with its customers. Ipad sold thousands (millions?) copies and created a new trend and a new category of products that quickly other companies tried to follow producing there own tables

  21. I agree with “caktakim” how you can call your 5th prediction a push???


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  23. Tom Nocera says:

    2010 might not have been your best forecasting ever, but certainly better than anybody else’s predictions.

    #10 – Given all its technical innovations, it’s support from Google and backing by so many in Silicon Valley, I would have listed or at least mentioned Tesla’s successful IPO in 2010. I wonder if the Tesla IPO crossed your mind?

  24. Rick says:

    In 2011, you should try to be very vague and then at the end of the year you can be even more generous on the results.

  25. Nick R. says:

    #6 – you were wrong on. You could use your defense for almost every product ever. We always want more, but Apple shipped a product that we still wanted.

    #7 – This has started to come true for me. The amount of link farms and Google Ads Google links me to has been making me crazy. Surround my results with ads – fine. Please don’t link me to more and more of them.

  26. Steve says:

    Dude, you totally missed #5. By a long long way. Just because you’d failed to see the use case and still do, you give yourself a push?

  27. His Shadow says:

    Prediction #5: Apple’s “iTablet” will disappoint… I’d score this a push.

    No, you were flat out wrong. Quit equivocating. You blew it. But then, you were the guys that said this about 2009…

    “8. Apple will see a significant reversal of recent fortunes.”

    And you tried pull this “push” crap then as well.

    I’d say this one was a push, not wrong, but not entirely right….yet.

    No. Horsecrap. Wrong again, and not only for that year, but up until this point! Are you still going to give yourself a “push” every time because of what *could* happen after the time period you made the prediction *for* actually expires?

    You do understand what a prediction “for 2009” means, right?

  28. AlfieJr says:

    sorry, but you utterly blow your cred by trying to avoid admitting your were utterly wrong about the iPad last year. trying to rationalize your way out of it is really lame.

    man up and eat some crow. show some class.

  29. e says:

    i) Agree with Chris (2nd commenter from the top) on #2 and #5>>

    #2: should be a fail, given his comments and that “google buzz” was released in 2010 vs. your prediction that “minimize its efforts in media, including social media, seeking to embrace and partner rather than compete directly”

    #5: clear fail. money/purchases are much stronger and clearer votes of success than words

    ii) #7 is a +1 for me. google as a search engine has become progressively more frustrating

  30. Mike says:

    I think the rise of an open gaming platform is a win too- witness the ascendence of Unity3d

  31. Joshua-carpenter says:

    I like the predictions though I confess that I sometimes get a little scary. The prediction 1 for example, I think it would do much evil to the world if it falls that power. I think the world is not ready for that, or the countries against the U.S.. Thank you,Joshua Carpenter – vudu

  32. Jennifer Larsen says:

    Predictions are great, it’s good to have a preview of what will happen in the coming months on the world wide web. Although everything is so changeable that probably many changes will surprise us all! Greetings to all, Jennifer Larsen | Enigmas y Misterios

  33. Christian-wenger says:

    I do not believe much in the predictions though I confess that many times there are people who guess many things in the future and gives a little scary …
    Christian Wenger – hechizos