A Look Back And A Look Ahead

As the year comes to a close, it is time to reflect on what happened in the past year and what will come in the next year. Conveniently, I wrote a 2010 predictions post last year, so I can easily review how accurate those predictions were:

  • Many tablets are released to much fanfare, and people swoon over Apple‘s offering. Then they realize that any tablet over $400 is a solution looking for a problem, and go back to buying laptops and netbooks… Result: I was correct in some parts and not in others. While there was a lot of swooning over the iPad, casual computing has risen as a dominant paradigm. There is still the problem with pricing, though a price of $500 seems to be the tipping point, and netbooks are mostly a terrible user experience.
  • Google releases serious geo/local offerings. Latitude will become a true competitor to FourSquare and Gowalla and uses your predefined network of email, blogger and Google Reader contacts. Of course, it becomes immediately useful and makes people wonder what ever happened to FourSquare and Gowalla… Result: Google is slow moving in the Geo and Social areas, though they have shown signs of movement. It could be that 2011 is the year that this becomes true.
  • Facebook gets into the geo/location game by purchasing Foursquare. They could technically buy any of the other players if they were looking for functionality, but Foursquare brings a nice amount of buzz with it… Result: I was very close to getting this correct as Facebook and Foursquare had discussions but did not close the deal. Facebook is moving into geo/location by creating Place pages and allowing integration with third party services.
  • Google makes a huge push into ecommerce, buying an ecommerce provider/platform in the process. They also enable smaller stores like Yahoo used to do, but it is based on their Google Sites offering with hooks into their new ecommerce platform. One possible purchase would be Etsy unless they decide to stay independent… Result: This is another prediction that is partially right. Google is making a big push into ecommerce, mostly through search capabilities. They recently added more shopping APIs, so Google Sites could be an interesting ecommerce platform from a simple perspective. Acquisitions are always being talked about, and Etsy has been named at least a few times, but nothing solid has appeared yet.
  • Yahoo continues to close various unsuccessful properties as they get closer to a content only company… Result: Yes, Yahoo is closing a bunch of properties, but recently they talked about closing Delicious, one or their more popular properties. I also mentioned that Yahoo would become more popular towards the end of the year, and I was obviously wrong about that.
  • Twitter will buy one of the third party clients, probably Tweetdeck… Twitter will also create their own URL shortener and make it the default… Twitter will also do something completely unexpected yet completely obvious… Result: They improved their own interface and then bought one of the mobile apps, so I was close on that piece. We now have t.co as Twitter’s url shortener and they are planning on launching an analytics offering, which was definitely unexpected at the beginning of last year but makes complete sense.
  • Some major technical blog will break an embargo and other major blogs will have a fit. Duh. Result: Shockingly true 🙂
  • The semantic web will finally start to make progress into the mainstream, but not in the same way we thought. The main drivers will be augmented reality, geo/location apps and hyperlocal information… Result: This is fairly close to true for the reasons I gave. The Linked Data movement is also providing a boost to semantic technologies.
  • Social media and other Facebook and Twitter applications will go through a major consolidation… Result: Mostly wrong, but not quite. So, Facebook, Twitter and others are making a lot of acquisitions but not in the manner that was expected. There are a lot of “talent acquisitions” where the company that is purchased will integrate their concepts but not a merging of the applications.

So, last year was interesting and my predictions were not all that bad. This year, I am not going to make predictions as much as look at what the popular trends will likely be:

  • Mobile Computing: People thought mobile computing was big with the advent of smartphones. With the addition of tablets like the iPad, mobile computing got a big screen to play with.
  • Tablets everywhere: Not only are tablets gaining a lot of acceptance, they have mostly replaced netbooks as the “smaller than a laptop” device. As the prices drop, expect to see dedicated eReaders convert into tablets similar to what the Nook is doing.
  • HTML5: HTML5 gets included because it has such different capabilities than web sites currently have. There is huge potential with this technology and it can also blur the lines of web site and desktop or mobile application.
  • Instant information: This is the extension of my semantic web prediction from last year. As linked data and geo data become more standardized, more applications will include augmented reality-like functionality. Once acceptance of linked data and geo data is more mainstream, other data silos will follow.
  • Always On: We thought people were always connected before, but the technologies are finally getting to minority report levels. We have the Kinect and other gesture-based interfaces, near field communication to enable proximity computing, and everything is being integrated with social networks.
  • A Massive Data Startup: The one prediction I will make is that some data startup will become huge. We have some players already in Gnip and DataSift, but 2011 is really the year of data and one company will have massive growth.

That is all for now. Have a good holiday season and a prosperous new year!

3 thoughts on “A Look Back And A Look Ahead

  1. The fascinating part about analyzing so-called “wrong” predictions is to look at why they were wrong, and what factors emerged during the year that were not apparent in 2009. For this reason, your discussion of geolocation, Facebook, and Foursquare is interesting. Apparently the buzz around Foursquare was so huge, and the valuation so high, that Facebook determined that it was more economical to make rather than buy. A lesson for future acquisition targets, since Facebook could easily reply, “Your price is too high. We’ll just make it ourselves. (And crush you.)” Reminds me of Microsoft…


    1. John

      I absolutely agree about the Facebook/Foursquare thing. That also plays into the “talent acquisition” idea where they just buy a team that has the appropriate experience. Geolocation is far too hyped right now, but the services are all expanding into additional things. The functionality and usefulness may finally be catching up a bit with the hype.


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