I am not sure why all of a sudden I am struck with the urge to prognosticate, but all weekend long I’ve been thinking about what might happen next year in the search/tech/media nexus. I think it has something to do with the book – my plan is to finish it by about mid year, then pray that nothing major changes for another six months while the manuscript wends its way through the vagaries of the publishing process. It’s either that, or Jeremy envy.
So I’ve been thinking about a number of things, some small, some not so small, which might happen in the next twelve months. Given that I’m writing this on the eve of Winter’s Solstice, I give you Battelle’s First Annual Solstice Hopes and Predictions for 2004. I refuse to say which are hopes, and which predictions. This way, I can claim to be right next year one way or another. Take it for what it cost you on the way in…. (see list via link below)
1. The Web becomes a platform (again). Thanks to commerce and service APIs, RSS, and the ubiquitous interface of search, geeks around the world are again leveraging the web as a platform for cool new tools. 2004 will be the year these tools break out in something of a pre-cambrian explosion, reminiscent of the Mac in late 1980s, or CD-ROM in the early 90s. Only cooler. Examples: Grokker, Bloglines, Amazon API.
2. Along those lines (and no surprise to this readership, but still and all…), blog ecologies of like-minded folks will garner increasing cultural and social power. We’ve seen this happen first in the technology and media space, and recently politics has figured it out too. 2004 will see the rest of the world join in, especially in natural communities where power is projected: think professional verticals of finance, law, medicine, marketing. Folks who you never thought would ever blog will be coming online and claiming power. As a result, more blog ecologies will impose registration and/or subscription (the money kind, not the RSS kind…).
3. The Dutch auction/OpenIPO model will be validated. Not that it isn’t already alive and working – WR Hambrecht is proving that – but 2004 is when a major player (and it need not be Google) will take the lead and fly the bird at traditional Wall Street approaches to going public.
4. Speaking of IPOs, we’ll see a major IPO ($100 million+ sold to public) in search that isn’t Google.
5. There will be a “Tylenol Scare” in search. One of the majors – AOL, Yahoo, MSN, Google – or possibly more than one will be caught up in a major privacy and/or corporate responsibility crisis. The press and consumers will freak as they realize how important – and imperfect – this thing called search is. There will be much harrumphing, then everyone will calm down, learn from the incident, and move on.
6. Once a month, a new search player will be crowned in the press as “the next Google.” One of them, in fact, could be the next Google.
7. Second generation blog/RSS aggregation sites will come close to combining directory functions with LinkedIn- and recommendation-engine-like features – think Amazon+Yahoo for the blogosphere….
8. …at about the same time Yahoo, AOL, MSN, and Google will build or buy second-generation blog/RSS aggregation sites.
9. The world will realize the importance of our digital artifacts, and takes further steps to to preserve them.
10. Cable companies will control more than 75% of the PVR market, but a backlash/new TiVo-like device (possibly from Apple) will develop by the end of the year.
11. Microsoft will have a surprise hit product that has nothing to do with Office or Longhorn, causing a minor fire drill in Redmond.
12. I’ll finish my book, try to stop writing this blog, but find it impossible to do so. Meanwhile, a deeply cool, once-in-a-decade-magazine-I wish-I-had-thought-of will launch.
So what are your predictions?