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Predictions 2011

By - January 03, 2011

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InnostraD-tm-3-tm-tm-tm.jpg the eighth version of my annual predictions, I’ll try to stay focused and clear, the better to score myself a year from now. And while I used the past two weeks of relatively fallow holiday time as a sort of marination period, the truth is I pretty much just sat down and banged these predictions out in one go, just as I have the past seven years. It works for me, and I hope you agree, or at least find them worth your time. So here we go:

1. We’ll see the rise of a meme which I’ll call “The Web Reborn” – a response to the idea that mobile and apps have killed the web as we know it. In fact, we’ll come to realize that the web is the foundation of nearly everything we do, and we’ll start to expect, as consumers, that all our service providers honor and build in basic principles of “web friendliness” – data portability and user-controlled identity most important among them. Call it a return to the original principles of “Web 2.0”.

2. Voice will become a critical interface for computing (especially mobile apps). This is just not true now, but in a year’s time, there will be a handful of very popular apps that are driven by voice, and in particular, by weaving together voice, text, and identity.

3. DSPs (Demand Side Platforms) will fade into the fabric of larger marketing platforms. In the end, DSPs are the handle by which we understand the concept of technology-driven ad networks. And those have been with us for over a decade. Exchanges, DSPs, SSPs, etc. are all important, but in the end, what matters is that advertisers have scale and efficiency, and consumers have control.

4. Related, MediaBank will emerge as a major independent player in the marketing world, playing off its cross channel reach (outside of digital) and providing an alternative to the conflicted digital platforms at Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo. I could imagine a major tech or telco player trying to buy MediaBank as the world realizes that marketing is, in essence, a massive IT business (among many other things).

5. The Mac App Store will be a big hit, at least among Mac users, and may well propel Mac sales beyond expectations.

6. Related, Apple will attempt to get better at social networking, fail, and cut a deal with Facebook.

7. Also related, Apple will begin to show signs of the same problems that plagued Microsoft in the mid 90s, and Google in the past few years: Getting too big, too full of themselves, and too focused on their own prior success.

8. Microsoft will have a major change in leadership. I am not predicting Ballmer will leave, but I think he and the company will most likely bring in very senior new talent to open new markets or shift direction in important current markets like media/marketing/social.

9. The public markets will be surprisingly open to major new Internet deals, despite the current rise of “private IPOs” and the growing belief that the IPO process is broken. In the end, there’s just too many good reasons for public companies to be, well, public. (See Gurley).

10. The tablet market will have a year of incoherence. Apple will dominate with the iPad due to a lack of an alternative touchstone. Google will focus on providing a clear, consistent experience through Android for tablets and mobile, but it will take a third party to unify the experience. I don’t see that happening this year.

11. “Social deals” will morph to become a standard marketing outlet for all business, and by year’s end be seen as a standard part of any marketer’s media mix. Groupon will lead here, but nearly every major player will have an offering, often by partnering with leaders. I’m tempted to say Facebook will abandon its own Deals offering for a deal with Groupon, but I’m not sure that will unfold in one year.

12. Related, Groupon will fend off an acquisition by a major carrier, probably AT&T or Verizon. It’s possible they’ll sell, but I doubt it.

13. Facebook will decline as a force in the Internet world, as measured by buzz. The company will continue to be seen as Big Brother in the press, and struggle with internal issues related to growth. Also, it will lose some attention/share to upstarts. However, its share of marketing dollars and reach will increase.

14. Related, we’ll see major privacy related legislation in the US brought to the floor of Congress, and then fail for lack of consensus. But that will drive a significant shift in how our culture understands its relationship to the world our industry is building, and that’s a good thing.

I’d love to keep going, but I think those are the major ones, at least from my vantage point. Thanks for reading, it was a great year. I’m not going to make predictions about my own work this year, as I’ve got too much inside knowledge on that topic! Let me know your thoughts in comments, and have a great 2011!


Predictions 2010

2010 How I Did

2009 Predictions

2009 How I Did

2008 Predictions

2008 How I Did

2007 Predictions

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30 thoughts on “Predictions 2011

  1. John says:

    I feel like I missed a lot already… For example, NFC (near field communications for mobile payment and more) is going to be a breakout too this year. … I’ll use comments to add more here…

  2. Gil Press says:

    Sound predictions, all. #13 is the most intriguingfor me and it would be interesting to see how it impacts/drives some of the other predictions (e.g., decline in influence of Facebook, everything related to the advertising industry as we know it today) in 2011. Are “social deals” going to be just part of the marketing mix or already a dominant part in 2011? Are “social deals” going to be limited to the local consumer market or are we going to see them spreading into national and enterprise markets as well? And when are we going to see the first business that is going to be developed from the ground up (not just marketing, everything) on the basis of “social deals”?

  3. Sean Ammirati says:

    Great as always!

    I think your link to MediaBank is broken FYI.

    — Sean

  4. John says:

    Thanks Sean, fixed that.

  5. Tom Nocera says:

    Another good, thought-provoking set of predictions, John. On your prediction of privacy legislation, I wonder if the FCC might take that on, as it has recently asserted its authority to lord over the Internet?

  6. says:

    Related to 1) and 5), app search will grow big. Semantic search, social discovery and app rank akin to page rank for web will rise.

    Voice is definitely going to show as a valuable interface, but still the technology needs to mature.

  7. John says:

    Tom, I think the FTC will lead here, and members of Congress will as well. FCC has way too much on its plate already!

  8. Julie says:

    Liking 3 and 8 a lot. With agency models shifting and ad tech taking over digital – the logical shift is for corporate IT to take over and give control to marketing.

  9. John – nothing on Augmented Reality? Come on! 🙂

    Disagree on #5 and #10 (unless iPad drops price is or is undercut by other players), but agree 100% on #6, #7, #11 and #13 (but I’d argue #13 is kind of a gimme…)

    I also hope 2011 is the last year we have to hear the word ‘app’ 🙂

  10. John says:

    Matthew, good point. I did include some AR related stuff in earlier predictions, but I agree it’ll break out bigger in the next year.

  11. Kirsty says:

    It looks pretty rosy for Groupon in your predictions. I disagree. They will face more competition. If the economy picks up, fewer merchants would be willing to offer huge discount, the massive no. of staff they plan to hire will reduce profit margin.

  12. Nick Lamothe says:

    Very intrigued by #7. To see competitors struggle, learn from them and avoid those pitfalls would be a huge testament to their management team

  13. Stan says:

    #11- I believe the deal model will drastically change. Local businesses can’t sustain the margins necessary to make the current model a permanent part of their mix, yet they need to have a strong deals model to survive. Daily deals will become simpler and smarter and will become paperless in 2011.

    Also, watch out for “Groupon Guilt” from local consumers.

  14. I am not really believe in prediction. For me God is the most decicion maker.

  15. Pankaj says:

    Improved news reader for tablets are going to rock the market!

  16. This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  17. Thanks for this prediction. I think it will help people find out gadget in a future. Thanks a lot.

  18. brian gillespie says:

    15. Really you need to switch Facebook and Apple in #7 and #13. And change “marketing dollars” for “market share” for a better fit. I’ll check back with you next year.

  19. Daniel Phermous says:

    “The Mac App Store will be a big hit, at least among Mac users”

    Heh. Well, it’s sure not going to be a hit with Windows users.

    And, as for number 7… How will you measure whether Apple is focussed only on their prior sucesses? I ask because Apple is highly unlikely to release a new product line this year and they’ll certainly update everything they have. That sounds like it fits your prediction but it’s pretty much what happened in the two years between the iPhone and iPad too. It’s hardly indicitive of nything significant.

  20. James Katt says:

    “Too focused on their own prior success” is the opposite of Steve Jobs. His focus is always on the Next Big Thing, no matter how big the Last Big Thing was. Apple is the largest startup company in the world.

    The tablet market is not inconsistent. It will be iPad, iPad, iPad, iPad, and copies of the iPad like Android.

  21. abu says:

    7# touches a really intriguing argument.

    Apple has been executing flawlessly for more than 10 years, so everybody wonders when and how they’ll start to miss a beat – because you know, nothing is forever.

    I don’t think the time is this year, anyway, and I don’t think that they currently risk to grow too big and sitting on previous success.

    The 2nd Jobs’ Apple has always, and still is, sharp-focused on product on a level that Google or MS have never been, neither when they were younger, smaller and agile.

    Apple has doubled its head count in the last 3 years, but still has roughly half of MS employees.
    And most of the new hires are in retail.

    The engineering work force is still small and manageable.

    Apple hasn’t been shy of slowing down OS X development to reallocate resources on iOS, instead of resorting to new hires.

    Similarly, they just cut the server division and internal Java development, and they are always been very fast-forward in cutting legacy support.

    All these things show that they know well the risk of growing too big and unmanageable, and they plan accordingly.

    Their product teams are very focused, their C-level staff is small and tight, and there is apparently no division infighting.

    Their mobile computing vision is just starting to take place, and I think they’ve a very clear vision for the next few years.

    They’ll eventually do something wrong, but they’re not risking to suffer from corporate overgrowth and complacency in the next year.

  22. SEO Training says:

    Very interesting, I have written an SEO Training blog post about what to expect in 2011 in SEO and social media, I thought you might find it interesting.

  23. His Shadow says:

    #7 is pretty much not going to happen. You may have forgotten who is in charge at Apple, and the corporate culture that Steve Jobs is building. How many management employees does Apple have now versus 6 years ago in contrast to it’s revenue and market capitalization growth? None of the markers of the bloat, ennui and “drinking the Kool-Aid” mentality that typifies corporate America is in evidence at Apple.

    Apple has not acted like any other US corporation since Jobs returned. Unlike many device makers, Apple does not churn out 50 versions of it’s hit devices and sacrifice margins by trying to fill every conceivable niche. Apple has also mercilessly culled hardware that it either did not do well or was better handled by other companies (think cameras and printers for starters). When there are 15 models of the iPhone (how many versions of any Motorola handset are there? Pretty much one for every carrier), you can voice concerns about Apple’s corporate culture.

  24. Jeff says:

    #2 sounds like Bill Gates at every CES during the 90s. Never happened, and making the prediction 10 years later is a little more reasonable, but to me this is still an area that will see meager change.

    I’d love to see more mobile apps pickup on this though, so the phone could stay in the pocket (“when’s the next bus?”). Or more like Jawbone’s Thought app but from a bigger player that could provide a unify-all-communications box.

  25. ObeyTheFist says:

    You don’t have anything to predict about Windows Phone 7? I think it’s going to be one of the biggest stories of 2011. Finally, real competition for the iPhone and a huge, course altering boost to Microsoft.

  26. Jan G says:

    Good one, just as the previous years, and I think you’ll do pretty well in the “2011 – How I did”.

    On a related note, the link to “2010 – How I did seems to have a wrong URL as target (article about Android apps).

  27. Ashish says:

    What about HTML 5 and all the buzz surrounding it. What kind of mobile OS do you see growing the most?

  28. SugarFree says:

    The Windows 7 phone? you have to be joking! 20 years later and Microsoft are still trying to produce a PC OS that doesn’t take a super computer to run and doesn’t crash every day…they are going to take a lot longer before they crack the mobile space!
    It will however be interesting to see if Nokia continue their demise, or come up with something that captures the imagination again.

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  30. Andrew says:

    Apple’s heads will get bigger? Bigger than they already are? won’t they explode? LOL Nice predictions.