It’s been a tradition on TNL.net to have predictions for the coming year and I will soon have a set out for 2007 but before I move on to that, I need to fulfill the other tradition on TNL.net, which is to look at the previous year’s predictions and rate how successful (or not) I was in predicting the year ahead. So, without further ado, here is a review of the predictions I made last year about 2006:
It wasn’t much going out on a limb to estimate that broadband penetration would increase. However, the implications are generally harder to extricate. The rise of VoIP has been realized, with my predictions about large-scale operators adopting VoIP as their own only partially realized. All the major operators do have a specific VoIP offering but few are using it as a total replacement of their backend so I guess I was overly optimistic in my assessment.
In terms of other implications of broadband, though, my predictions about video where correct: Apple did announce (or is that pre-announce) a living room strategy with the iTV (new name to be announced at MacWorld). My assumption that they would not market it as a computer are correct and that direct access to the media store and emphasis on HDTV seem to be correct. Also in video, Google did offer a pay per view system (on Google video) but not in partnership with AOL… and my assumption of this generating good buzz for AOL, allowing it to do an IPO, was way off base.
TV stations increasing their online position with advertising supported media was also correct. I was, however, early in my predictions about ad insertion mechanisms being better targeted than traditional advertising. Currently, online video advertising is still about equivalent to TV advertising (minus the large audience size) so better targeting is something that will probably come in the future.
YouTube could easily be considered a new type of video aggregator, and its acquisition by Google fits into my thinking about major portals acquiring those new aggregators. I was also (I must admit my own surprise here) partially correct in predicting that Tivo would open up and start positioning itself as a new aggregator for content online and offline. I was dead wrong, however, on it being acquired, as I was about Yahoo! acquiring NetFlix.
TV stations going fully online was also overly optimistic. While a few efforts, like TrioTV, were launched as a way to keep flagging brands alive, no small station went completely online in 2006. What happened, however, was that large stations put popular shows online, rankling some of their affiliates in the process. The idea of putting local news online is what I would consider one of the big missed opportunities for traditional media. It’s content that could be repositioned online easily and could be sold on a network basis in terms of advertising so I’m surprised that it hasn’t been done yet. Maybe in 2007.
My predictions about the trajectory of vidcasting seemed to be pretty dead on. Amanda Congdon signing up with ABC can be seen as the beginning of a trend, in terms of vidcaster moving to traditional media. Traditional media are still seeing this phenomenon as small and largely to be ignored but the rise of citizen journalists has gotten them to pay a little more notice (reference Senator Allen and the Macaca incident and you start understanding the power of citizen powered video).
On the infrastructure end, my predictions about outcries relating to the security of the network were wrong but incumbent line operators asking for more control was not: the fight over Net Neutrality is the battleground pitting operators who want to close up the net vs. people who believe that the Internet has been successful because of that openness. I sit in the latter camp and I think this fight will continue through 2007 and probably beyond.
Growth and Scalability
My predictions about 2.0 sites being unable to cope with explosive growth proved wrong. Looks like there are a lot of people out there who are doing great work making sure that those sites stay up and kudos to them for that.
My fears about mainstream media hedging out the traditional blogs also appeared wrong. Traditional media did attempt to co-opt blogging but, apart from a few exceptions (Business Week comes to mind), few have achieved any major traction in the space. It appears that established bloggers are now the new gatekeepers of the blogosphere and traditional media will not be able to displace them (I suspect that the next move by traditional media organizations will be to co-opt those bloggers now).
Radio stations did offer more shows via podcast, which is a very welcomed improvement I had predicted. However, very few TV stations are offering shows via vidcast. Hosting services offering a share of advertising revenue did start to appear but few podcasters signed on, as it turns out that my predictions about escalating bandwidth cost constraining podcasters were wrong.
On the crash and burn side, few companies actually did so little talk of bubble burst 2.0 have happened. Stories about Google hubris have started appearing and as I write this, Google has lost 10 percent from its highest price this year (the stock is trading at US$461 while its high was US$513) so I guess I got this one right too.
My bets on consolidation were wrong and LinkedIn was not acquired. Oh, and tagging as a market hasn’t really been decimated. Instead, it appears that Yahoo! loves the concept and has gone out to buy most of the players in the space.
My prediction of a massive Google backlash also proved incorrect. While rumblings are starting to happen among tech luminaries, those have had little effect on how business operates and interacts with Google, and thus has had little effect on Google itself so far.
While new companies emerged in the analytics space, none of them really provided anything revolutionary I can think of so my guess on this space being a great new area of activity was wrong. However, I think it’s a space that does need more work.
Trust did not become as hot a topic as I thought it would. While there were a few discussions around trust-related issues in the blogosphere (the most recent examples to come to mind are the payperpost debacle and the recent Microsoft laptop delivery discussion), trust itself did not become a major topic. My prediction about anonymous editing of Wikipedia was partially correct, though, as Wikipedia is working on a tighter policy and better controls. My predictions regarding a major hack of Wikipedia were wrong (thankfully) but I’m glad that they are taking the appropriate steps to deal with minor problems before they became major.
I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised with how accurate a number of my predictions were. This year was a pretty amazing one and my success rate on this effort makes it that much harder in terms of predicting 2007 as I now have to keep up with a good rate of success. We’ll see next year when I review the 2007 predictions I should be making soon.