Every year around this time I do two things: First I look back at my predictions from a year ago and grade myself, then I get around to making a new set of predictions. These are often my most popular posts of the year, proving the old magazine saw that the world loves a list. So who am I to buck the trend? Let’s get cracking on seeing how my crystal ball turned out, shall we?
As you can see from my 2012 predictions roundup, I took something of a new approach to the prognostication game last year. Instead of one lengthy post with all my predictions, I actually broke them into a series of posts, seven in all. I went into detail on why I thought each forecast would prove correct (save the last one, which was a series of “shoot from the hip” predictions.)
I’ll be as brief as I can with this review – this marks the ninth time I’ve done it. Overall, I’ve had a pretty good run of it. I hope 2013 keeps pace.
Predictions 2012: #1 – On Twitter and Media – Twitter will become a media company, and the only “free radical of scale” in our Internet ecosystem.
Predictions 2012: #2 – Twitter As Free Radical, Swiss Bank, Arms Merchant…And Google Five Years Ago – Every major player on the Internet will have to do a deal with Twitter, and Twitter will emerge as a Swiss like, open, neutral player in the battle for the consumer web.
Meanwhile, I do find Twitter’s core DNA and philosophy to be far more “Googley” than any other major Internet company. The management team believes in transparency and openness as their True North, and I wager this philosophy will be both challenged and proven in 2013.
Overall, I’d say this prediction was about half right. A push, neither right nor wrong.
Predictions 2012 #3: The Facebook Ad Network – Facebook will launch a web-wide competitor to AdSense.
Now, one could argue this did not happen in 2012. But I’m going to say it has – in 2012 Facebook made several moves that changed the web-wide business of advertising significantly. First, it tested off-site advertising with Zynga. Next, it launched a game-changing programmatic ad exchange, FBX. While this network only allows access to Facebook’s domain-specific inventory, it’s a massive injection of liquidity into the overall Internet advertising landscape, and laid the groundwork for an Adsense like play across the rest of the web. What I got wrong was that instead of starting with the HTML web, Facebook started instead in the very place it was seen as weak, on the mobile web. Regardless, this mobile network is in fact a “web-wide competitor to AdSense,” if you take the web to include mobile, which I certainly do.
So I’ll score this prediction in the “got it right” camp, even if the final shoe – a PC web network – has yet to drop. It will.
Predictions 2012 #4: Google’s Challenging Year – Despite doing well overall, Google will fumble one big play this year.
Predictions 2012 #5: A Big Year for M&A – 2012 may well be the biggest year of all for Internet M&A.
Predictions 2012 #6: “The Corporation” Becomes A Central Societal Question Mark – We’ll all start to question what role the corporation plays in our society and culture.
It’s very difficult to score this one, because it’s so much about cultural zeitgeist. What is the role of “the corporation” in our world, both personal and social? If nothing else, 2012 was a year where we began to ask this question in earnest. It’s the year that “the 1%” and the “99%” became cultural talking points, where we debated the role of government in moderating the profits of the few over the well being of the many, and where that debate ran all the way to last night – when the fiscal cliff was averted, in the main, by kicking this question down the road a few more months.
I think I overestimated the speed with which we will take up this question in our society. When we look back with the lens of time and history, I think it’ll be clear that the role of the corporation was a central issue of the early 2000s. But to call it in one year was premature.
For me, this one was a push.
In which I cover a number rapid fire predictions. In turn:
- Obama will win the 2012 election, thanks in part to the tech community rallying behind him due to issues like SOPA, visas, and free speech.
Well, this one happened. Score one in the “got it right” column.
- Both Apple and Amazon will make billion-dollar acquisitions. More interestingly, so will Facebook.
Facebook checked the box with Instagram, which was really a bit below the billion dollar mark, thanks to the IPO not quite working out as expected. Apple did not take my prediction to heart, though it did buy AuthenTec for about $350 million, and speculation about its Next Big Move continue. Amazon nearly hit the billion dollar mark with its acquisition of Kiva Systems, but that deal wasn’t the one I was expecting.
So, call this one a mostly miss, which to be fair, means it was a miss….
- Android will be brought to heel by Google, eliciting both massive complaints and cheers, depending on where you sit.
– Microsoft Windows Phone will become the Bing of mobile (IE, move into double digit market share).
– Microsoft Xbox will integrate meaningfully with the web (Kinect is key), and start to compete in social across the digital spectrum
An ecosystem is developing, but this is simply not there yet. I’m not sure if it ever will. Another miss. I clearly need to stop making predictions about Microsoft.
- IBM will emerge as a key player in the consumer Internet.
– China will be caught spying on US corporations, especially tech and commodity companies. Somewhat oddly, no one will (seem to) care.
It’s happening, (more and more), but we haven’t yet had the spectacular news (like the Google hack last year) that gets folks all excited (so they then can ignore it). Instead, it seems we just see it as business as usual. I think this is a mild “got it right” – but upon reflection, it wasn’t so hard to predict in the first place.
- A heads up display for the web will launch that actually is worth using, but most likely in limited use cases.
Thanks, Google Glass!
So that’s it. In review, I made 14 predictions. By my score, I got 7 right, 5 wrong or mostly wrong, and 2 were a push.
But to be fair, four of my “wrong” predictions were in the “shoot from the hip” category. I think I’ll drop that for 2013 and focus on the ones where I put in serious thought. For those six predictions, my score was better: 3 right, two pushes, and one miss (on the M&A front).
How do you think I did?