Predictions 2010

Related: 2009 Predictions 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 A new decade. I like the sound of that. I'm a bit…


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A new decade. I like the sound of that. I’m a bit late on these, but for some reason these predictions refused to be rushed. I haven’t had the contemplative time I usually get over the holidays, and I need a fair amount of that before I can really get my head around attempting something as presumptive as forecasting a year.

So I’ll just start writing and see what comes.

While past predictions have focused on specific companies and industry segments (like Internet marketing), I think I’ll try to stay meta this time. Except for Google, of course, which is still the only company in the Internet economy that can be seen from space. For now. But we’ll get to that.

1. 2010 will mark the beginning of the end of US dominance of the web. I am not predicting the decline of the US Internet market, but rather its eclipse in size and overall influence by other centers of web economies. In essence, this is not an Internet prediction, but an economic one, as the web is simply a reflection of the world, and the world is clearly moving away from a US-dominated model.

2. Google will make a corporate decision to become seen as a software brand rather than as “just a search engine.” I see this as a massive cultural shift that will cause significant rifts inside the company, but I also see it as inevitable. Google, once the “pencil” of the Internet, has become a newer, more open version of Microsoft, and it has to admit as much both to itself as well as to its public, or it will start to lose credibility with all its constituents. While the company flirted with the title of “media company” I think “software company” fits it better, and allows it to focus and to lean into its most significant projects, all of which are software-driven: Chrome OS, Android, Search, and Docs (Office/Cloud Apps).

This shift means Google will, by years end and with fits and starts, begin to minimize its efforts in media, including social media, seeking to embrace and partner rather than compete directly. This is a significant prediction, as Facebook is clearly Google’s most direct competitor in many areas, but Google will realize, if it has not already, that it cannot out Facebook Facebook, but it sure can be a better software company.

3. 2010 will see a major privacy brouhaha, not unlike the AOL search debacle but around social and/or advertising related data. Despite the rise of personalized privacy dashboards for most major sites, there is still no industry standard for how marketing data is leveraged, and there is a brewing war for that data between marketers, their agencies, and third parties like ad networks and measurement companies. Add in a querulous legislative environment, and it’s hard to imagine there not being some kind of major flap in the coming year.

4. By year’s end the web will have seen a significant new development in user interface design, one that will have gained rapid adoption amongst many “tier one” sites, in particularly those which cover the industry.

Despite nearly ten years of blogging, most publishing sites are still stuck in the mode of “post and push down,” which is, frankly, a terrible UI for anyone other than news hounds. Thanks to the three-headed force of social, gaming, and mobile, I think the PC web is due for a UI overhaul, and we’ll see new approaches to navigation and presentation evolve into a recognizable new standard.

apple_newton130_iphone3g.jpg5. (image) Apple’s “iTablet” will disappoint. Sorry Apple fanboys, but the use case is missing, even if the thing is gorgeous and kicks ass for so many other reasons. Until the computing UI includes culturally integrated voice recognition and a new approach to browsing (see #4), the “iTablet” is just Newton 2.0. Of course, the Newton was just the iPhone, ten years early and without the phone bit….and the Mac was just Windows, ten years before Windows really took hold, and Next was just ….oh never mind.

6. 2010 will see the rise of an open gaming platform, much as 2009 was the year of an open phone platform (Android). Imagine what might happen when the hegemony of current game development is questioned – I want open development for Halo and Guitar Hero, damnit!

7. Traditional search results will deteriorate to the point that folks begin to question search’s validity as a service. This does not mean people will stop using search – habits do not die that quickly and search will continue to have significant utility. But we are in the midst of a significant transition in search – as I’ve recently written, we are asking far more complicated questions of search, ones that search is simply not set up to answer. This incongruence is not really fair to blame on search, but so it goes. Add to this the problem of an entire ecosystem set up to game AdWords, and the table is set. Google will take most of the brand blame, but also do the most to address the issue in 2010.

8. Bing will move to a strong but distant second in search, eclipsing Yahoo in share. Of course, with the Yahoo deal, it’s rather hard to understand search share, but I measure it by “where search queries originate.” This is a pretty bold prediction, given the nearly 7-point spread between Bing and Yahoo now, but I think Microsoft will pick up significant share using cash to buy distribution.


9. Internet advertising will see a sharp increase, and not just from increased search and social media platform (PPC/PPA) spending. Brands will spend a lot more online in 2010, and most predictive models are not accounting for this rise.

10. (Image) This is probably a layup, but one never knows, layups are sometimes the ones you miss: The tech/Internet industry will see a surge in quality IPOs. However, at least one, if not more will be withdrawn as public scrutiny proves too costly and/or controversial. A corollary: There will also be a surge in M&A and “weak” IPO filings.

11. I’m out of my depth on this one, but it feels right so I’m going to go with it: We’ll see a major step forward in breaking the man/machine barrier. By this I mean the integration of technology and biology – yes, the same fantasy that fuels the blockbuster movies (Avatar, Matrix, Terminator). I’m not predicting a market product, but rather a paper or lab result that shows extraordinary promise.

12. I’ll figure out what I want to do with my book. SOGOTP, so to speak. Three years of predicting that I’ll start it is getting a bit old, eh? I feel good about branching back out into more contemplative fields, with FM in a strong position and our economy coming out from its defensive crouch.

As always, thanks for reading and responding. I look forward to 2010, it’d be hard to predict anything other than it’ll be a better year, overall, than 2009.

Author: John Battelle

A founder of NewCo (current CEO), sovrn (Chair), Federated Media, Web 2 Summit, The Industry Standard, Wired. Author, investor, board member (Acxiom, Sovrn, NewCo), bike rider, yoga practitioner.

40 thoughts on “Predictions 2010”

  1. Well, John, we will see what 2010 brings. I have for the most part been surprised, even amazed by how right you have been in the past. You make no mention of the impact of the introduction of 3D TV’s for home entertainment, but predict an open gaming platform…that will be a huge score for you if that comes to pass.

  2. Re the tablet. The use case is *not* missing. I am sitting in my front room using my laptop to type this. It is a pain having to use it – too hot, too unwieldy, just too desktoppy. My iphone is next to me on the arm of my chair. It’s great and I use it more and more and for many tings that I would have used my laptop for 6 months ago, but sometimes it is just too small. The mooted tablet is exactly what I want – I *don’t* want a netbook.

    BTW I loved my Newton2K and in that field the iPhone is the first device that beats it and I tried them all.

  3. I’ve got to disagree with prediction 4. I’ve thought about that myself, and did start designing a way around that to some extent.

    But to be honest, I’m not sure there’s any point. Generally news posts are on a quick decline to irrelevance the minute they’re published. All they could offer is context for future events, but a well-written article should offer the reader that anyway. As for non-news posts, I wonder if many people have a site they’re particularly tied to, or would just use a search engine instead.

    Also, 11 would be easy to call true on already. There’s a fair few papers, and some products too (e.g. NeuroSky).

  4. I’ve got to disagree with prediction 4. I’ve thought about that myself, and did start designing a way around that to some extent.

    But to be honest, I’m not sure there’s any point. Generally news posts are on a quick decline to irrelevance the minute they’re published. All they could offer is context for future events, but a well-written article should offer the reader that anyway. As for non-news posts, I wonder if many people have a site they’re particularly tied to, or would just use a search engine instead.

    Also, 11 would be easy to call true on already. There’s a fair few papers, and some products too (e.g. NeuroSky).

  5. Avidly awaiting market reaction to iTablet. Concur on use case that’s MIA, but was there a really a solid use case for iPod? Amazing marketing could set it on fire (as long as the price isn’t original iPhone level high).

    Praying that 9 & 10 occur as your crystal ball predicts. It’s time digital realized more capitalist potential.

    Let’s hope privacy doesn’t put wind in the sails of the suffering Democrats pre-midterm elections. That’s all we need.

    Great stuff as always John!

  6. If the iSlate merely does what the Kindle does but has the benefit of integrating w/ my Apple stuff (AppleTV, Mac, iPhone) I’ll get one. Agree with the commenter above that there is a space for it- lounging on the couch surfing/emailing.

    Can you posit an alternative we’ll see to search on #7? It seems like the intelligence for this needs to come from a social/human aspect and not from an algorithmic approach. Is there anything now which approximates what you envision?

    Here are my 10 IT predictions for 2010 if you want some different ones to chew on:


  7. John, re #3, how do you see Google as more open than Microsoft? Sure, they preach openness, but their actions render them as opaque as the folks in Redmond.

    In fact, I think they’re moving in opposite directions with regard to openness, Google hiding their hand with hooding and misdirection just as Microsoft opens up at least a little bit.

  8. Google can definitely out-Facebook Facebook. After all Facebook out-Myspaced Myspace when Myspace was nearly ubiquitous. Google is the master of refining web apps to what users actually want and increasing usability (search, gmail, reader, etc) and then taking over.

  9. When it comes to Google. Haven’t they sort of already done that with Android, Google Chrome OS, Latitude, Googles, Talk, Apps, etc etc?

    Regarding the Apple Tablet I think you’re wrong. Apple will surprise us all, especially on the interface part of the whole project. I think we’ll see a 3rd (OSX and iPhone being 1 & 2) interface.

    I love nr 6 about an open gaming platform.

    Thanks however for great recommendations. I published my own the last day on 2009. Let me know what you think:

  10. After watching Jobs hit it out of the park by reinventing the phone(iPhone), the MP3 player (iPod), animation (Pixar) and domination of the market for computers over $1,000, I have to believe that Apple is about to completely redefine the laptop market by replacing it with the iSlate. Image too that with a camera on the front side and software like video Skype it becomes a nearly life-size face-to-face video phone.

    I love my iPhone after being addicted to the Blackberry and will NEVER go back. Now it’s time to replace my MSFT-based HP laptop with an iSlate. I cannot wait!

    Posted by John Gotts of

  11. John, I together with some of my colleagues wrote a short paper on 4, i.e., estmating the cost of the current user experience and also emhasizing a need of a new user experience (and business model) for the web. The paper is currently under review by a conference.

    If you are interested, I could email you a preliminary version for you to look at.

    Kamal Jain
    researcher, Microsoft Research, Redmond.

  12. Good predictions, John.

    Can you pull out your 2009 ones and see how they stacked up?

    No one’s a fortune teller, but would be a worthwhile exercise.

  13. Re 11. the man-machine barrier: I’m starting to explore this as a long range investment theme for our venture fund (DFJ Esprit). I’m starting to think that there could be a significant wave of company formation exploiting consumer driven wellness innovation. The catalyst will be the availability of low cost and easy to use measurements of body attributes, functions, levels, DNA etc. and the science to interpret/improve them.

    The winning companies will have a consumer focus enabling us all to take control of our health in ways impossible until today.

    Early (maybe too early) companies in this area are those writing sleep apps for the iPhone, Fitbit, Zeo and Whithings.

  14. Some really interesting predictions. I for one will also be fascinated to see how the paid content argument develops as well. There were some big signs that decisions were being made towards the end of last year, this could be a crunch year for those trying to change the model.

  15. iSlate or the Apple Tablet will be like Newton? I bet you think you’re really smart drawing up that analogy.

    Apple doesn’t need to worry about cheap analogies like this but I do think they need to be concerned about the extent of the hype and all the speculation in the computer media and business prognosticators about its success or its ability to save print media; save the planet from extinction and resolve all conflicts in the world.

    The simple truth is there is a huge gap to be filled between the MacBook line and the iPhone; a significant distinction to be made between just another laptop or underpowered netbook; and most definitely a better eReader. A better eReader is a no-brainer since all the devices on the market today look and act like they were designed in the late 1970s.

    All Apple needs to do is come into the market with a better delivery system that is more portable and focuses on accessing and viewing content rather than fulfill every geek expectation for an all-in-one device that does everything and costs $299.

  16. I agree with you on several of these points, but feel like you’re overlooking digital out of home advertising and augmented reality-that will undoubtedly take off big time in 2010, both on the web and in video games like xbox and ps3.

  17. Very insightful, as usual. Glad you finally found a little time to contemplate 2010. I like John Gotts’ comment, in that there is probably something significantly useful about the iSlate. Those of us who’ve been around a few decades tend to be rightly cynical, but Apple does create some wonder-filled products. Not a fanboy, but a tech marketer…expect the unexpected.

  18. Funny how the Apple predictions always strike a nerve. Tho my 75 year old mom has an iphone and a mac, the only Apple product I own is an ipod, which I guess makes me just a fan, man.

    My prediction: I get the itablet, which leads to a domino effect of purchases- iphone, mac book and then a wholesale migration over to the apple platform for my business. After nearly doubling market share in the last 3 years, a prediction worth speculating about is when will mac finally re-cross the chasm?

  19. For me, numbers 4, 6 & 7 are the most intriguing.

    #6 is significant not just for games and gaming platforms, but because gaming technologies have historically had an impact beyond mere gaming. Should be interesting.

    #7 has already happened, though not to the degree that it is widely accepted. Already Google’s ‘tweaked’ results over the last year have made the results seem less trustworthy and relevant, not to mention the question of search’s validity at serving current information-seeking needs online and off.

    Your #4 prediction is vexing and exciting – it begs the question what you know that the rest of us don’t. Very, very interesting…

  20. Apple will not release a tablet like the iphone. Apple will release a product using flexible e-ink paper that can be rolled up like a newspaper.

    And it will be in color with wifi and a cellular radio.

    And it will be touch sensitive.

    Yes, this will be revolutionary.

  21. I disagree with 5. I think the iTablet will be a success. Being an avid user of the iPhone, and a 13 inch Mac laptop, I have enjoyed seeing the physical hardware footprint of these devices shrink. The iphone is too small to do many thing, and the laptop a bit too big. I want something lighter on my lap, something even easier to put into a carrying case, something to watch video at a larger size on and brwose the Internet, where so many apps are going. The iTablet seems like it will fit that bill.

  22. I agree that, ” Google will make a corporate decision to become seen as a software brand rather than as “just a search engine.”

    Five or six years ago, Google was THE only tool around. Now with more competition, especially BING, Google will have to ‘brand’ itself in order to compete.

  23. I suppose it’s in Google’s best interests if their users see them as a software company instead of what they really are… a media company. That way people will not think about all of the information that they collect about you. Facebook realized people will figure this out sooner or later about social networking, so they might as well put it all out there. It’s probably contradictory, but I refuse Google’s TOS for location services on my mobile phone while I do have a Facebook account. Though I did come close to quitting over Beacon.

  24. Thanks to DF, I got to read some truly amusing stuff. This was comedy gold. Why is it so many of these “predictions” are nothing more than the writer’s wishful thinking and a want-list?

    I have one big question: WHAT is “culturally integrated voice recognition”? Where did that come from? What does it even mean, besides nothing?

  25. It’s okay to admit it… the iPad is not anything other than a huge, critically acclaimed runaway success. Seriously… a push? Why, because some reviewers said it would need A, B and C to be viable? The entire world spoke… it didn’t need those things.

  26. I’m visiting from Gruber’s blog, so I was expecting the iPad miss. I was more interesting in seeing if you were far off the mark in other stuff..

    1…is a joke. You could say that started to happen in 2009 if you wanted. Or 2010. Or 2011. Pegging the “beginning” of something that’s as fuzzy as that is a bit whimsical.

    2. I’d say nope. Google is certainly trying to do more than search engines, but I’m pretty sure they’re just lying in wait to pounce on facebook.

    3. Nope. Technically, it depends on your definition of major, but it’d have to be pretty liberal in order to be a ‘yep’.

    4. Nope.

    5. Nope.

    6. Completely nope.

    7. Nope.

    8. Nope.

    9. Not sure, but I doubt it.

    10. I don’t recall anything noteworthy here.

    11. Nothing that made news.

    12. Maybe!

    I’m sure this can be spun more positively, but it looks pretty inaccurate to me. I’m not trying to say _at all_ that I’d do better. Predicting is hard stuff.

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