This post marks my third year of making predictions for the coming year. I’m emboldened by not failing utterly in the past two years (well, for the most part), but I am sure this will only ensure that these prognostications will prove immeasurably off the mark. But what the hell, here we go:
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. The deal will be simple: anyone can download, rip, and mix this video, but if you plan to make money from it – even selling ads next to it – you have to cut a deal with the mother ship. The company that does this will be heralded as either visionary, lunatic, or both.
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. This is not to say the company is going to fail, or the stock, for that matter. Just that it will face a major test in 2006 that it won’t pass with flying colors.
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).
4. Google and Yahoo will both enter the video (nee television) advertising marketplace.
5. Microsoft will gain five points of search share, at least. But…
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….
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.
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.
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.
10. The pace of Internet startup acquisitions will not be as torrid as most entrepreneurs and VCs had hoped.
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.
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.
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. The outlines of such an innovation: it’ll be a way for mobile users to gather the unstructured data they leverage every day while talking on the phone and make it useful to their personal web (including email and RSS, in particular). And it will be a business that looks and feels like a Web 2.0 business – leveraging iterative web development practices, open APIs, and innovation in assembly – that makes the leap.
14. The China Internet Bubble will begin to deflate.
15. Tivo and NetFlix will merge.
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….
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….
As always, thanks to all of you for your feedback, your gracious insights, your not so gracious calling me out when I need calling out, and most importantly, for your support in what has been the most satisfying and energizing year of my professional life.
Happy Holidays and here’s to a Wonderful New Year!
PS – Posting will be light through the New Year…