It’s that time again! The baton was passed over to me by James Thomas, and I’ll kindly oblige. Mark this as “Sid’s Return” to Rev2, too, I promise!
My top eight predictions for next year (note: I know saying so much about so many things makes me vulnerable, but at least I’ll have something to look back to next year to see which way my predictions went and what my thoughts they were at this time.):
- Acquisitions: The following startups and companies will be acquired (and two most possible buyers in that order):
- Facebook: Facebook won’t die. The new Facebook is Facebook. Instead, it will continue to grow and grow — internationally more so. How will they do that? Simple, like they’ve always been — introduce revolutionary new features, fail, fail, fail, jackpot, fail, fail, fail (note that I use the term “fail” very loosely — a more appropriate phrasing would be “wen’t nowhere” or even “didn’t make the NYT.”) Contrary to many of the skepticisms over Facebook’s revenue model, Facebook will find a revenue stream and thus a way to keep its $15b valuation. If 2007 was a sky-rocketing year for Facebook this year, 2008 will be a period of steady growth, where things get a little more settled and stable. Less valuation talk, more actual work done.
- Google: The number and rate of new Google products introduced will decrease. Instead, what will increase is the quality and reach of them — Google Reader will very possibly be among the first RSS readers to make the mainstream, the Google Office suite products (i.e. their eventual “release” updates) will continue to offer unique and interesting functionality pushing some consumers to ditch the Microsoft, Google Video will branch out into a niche: video search and attempt to do it in an awesome way, and lastly, Google News will turn into an AJAX startpage-esque product (or opt for some of that functionality). Oh, and speaking of startpages, iGoogle will either hit the mainstream jackpot or die in the minds of its current users.
- Yahoo!: 2008, in general, will be a huge test for Yahoo! and its revival. For years they’ve been thriving on the old mainstream model, and as the web’s current highest trafficked website, they’ll be needing a Plan B to keep it alive, or simply put, hit a few jackpots from their current 10 – 20 “lab tests.” I’m not sure what to think of Jerry Yang’s recent 60-day revival strategy period and it’s fairly difficult for anyone to predict what — if anything — came out of it, but surely, Yahoo! doesn’t seem like one that is going to go away anytime soon. They won’t grow as fast as they’ve been, and at worse mostly irrelevant to the Internet industry, but as a company I think they’ve got some big challenges ahead and the advantage of playing a contender where failure isn’t a possibility but success is the golden cookie. And one of the things that’s going to be trivial in their revival strategy, I think, is going to be acquisitions and lots of them. (read: point #1)
- Microsoft: As if Steve Ballmer’s Web 2.0 keynote wasn’t enough to say it, 2008 will be a big year for Microsoft. Obviously, we’re looking at a lot of acquisitions, products, and murders (yes, I’m talking to you, the 5 or so Live products that no one uses.) In any case, I think 2008 will be the year we know Microsoft’s stance on the web. We’ve been trying to figure it out for years and it always seems like there’s something right around the corner that is going to make it for them (remember the new MSN Search, anyone?) In any case, Bill Gates’ exit — for the good or the bad — will mean that there is increased activity in Microsoft’s Web properties. And will we find out whether the Web Office is Microsoft Office? I don’t think so, I think we’ll be needing two or three more years for that, but this won’t be stopping them from trying.
- Buzzwords: “AJAX” will die. “The Long Tail” will die. “Folksonomy” is dead. “Crowdsourcing” hasn’t really gone anywhere, and it may or may not. “Web 2.0” is at its peak, so I think next year is going to be when its use really reduces, and 2009 when it dies completely. RSS will be replaced by “feeds”, and the buttons with simply “Subscribe.” “New media” will survive for a couple more years. “Podcasts” will survive. “Social Network” will survive to refer to anything not Facebook, and “social graph,” until Facebook is alive, will be used to refer to Facebook. And lastly, “Web 3.0” is the most unoriginal and ambiguous word that ever exists, so it’s NOT going to be the successor of Web 2.0. At least, I hope so. Need I say more?
- iPhone: If 2007 was a big year for the iPhone, I think 2008 will be when its survival is really tested. That 10 million mark Apple’s aiming for? They’re going to get it, and not only that, I think they’ll surpass it. And with more iPhone users comes increased activity on the mobile web, which, iPhone user or not, I think is good for everyone. Of course, with the web apps not really getting anywhere among users web developers have something to cringe about, but native apps coming February and more iPhones in circulation will in the long run will prove best for all developers — web or not. And what about iPhone 2.o, you’re wondering? I’m not one to predict specific features, but I think the web experience will continue to get better and better and I can imagine a day where I’d opt for the iPhone because it’s close to me than open my Macbook and wait for Firefox to boot (yes, I know the iPhone has a great web browser interface already, but I’m still really attached to the traditional Firefox on my traditional Macbook. Either I’ll change, or the iPhone will.)
- OpenSocial: I know you’re only reading this paragraph to find out where I think it will flop or not, so I’ll cut to the chase. I think OpenSocial has a lot to offer, but I think Facebook apps — and their usage — is more powerful that all the others combined, and there lies the future of OpenSocial. I think it’s a good attempt — great attempt — by Google, and better than any social network they could’ve built (or have), but it won’t be enough to bring down Facebook or even hurt it in any way. If anything, OpenSocial is going to validate Facebook’s model of social apps and attract more developers into the landscape. However, this doesn’t mean developers are going to not adopt it. They are, and many existing Facebook app developers are too, but what won’t equate to the Facebook advantage is the number of users and the usage.