No better way to jump into blogging than with a piece predicting the future. It seems that years cannot start or end without lists of past events or lists of predictions about the future. I do love lists -- so this is a great time for me. Other than everyone's cheap attempts to crank up their pageviews by hiding the lists behind slideshows -- this has been a great year for lists.
I am going to resist the urge to create a list of my own. Here are a few thoughts about the things I have read. The ideas in this posting are taken largely from the lists cited at the bottom. So allow me to give credit to the authors by posting links to their posts.
Line Between Consumer and Business
The most important trend in the technology industry right now is the rise in importance of the consumer, and the resulting line that divides consumer and business. Not long ago the consumer technology market was only a fraction of the size of the business market. 2009 marks the first year that more computers were sold to consumers than to businesses. Admittedly the dollar volume to consumers is still less than to business, but the trend is unmistakable. The vendors are lining up on either side of the line with Microsoft, IBM, and HP largely on the business side, and Apple, Google, and Amazon on the other. Sure, these companies all want to be on both sides of the line, but wanting and doing are different things. But what makes a business a business? Is a one person business a consumer or a business? How about a 2 person business? 50 persons? It is an interesting exercise to consider where the line between the business market and the consumer market falls. Watch this page for a future article on the data supporting this thought. No matter where the line is now, it is clearly moving up in 2010 - making the consumer market even bigger and faster growing and the business market smaller. This will be a defining issue in our industry.
Social Networking and Media
Twitter and Facebook will not be the stars of 2010. Twitter will be purchased by someone, and Facebook may even have a wildly successful IPO. Twitter will start advertising and in 140 characters, we are not going to be able to tell the adds from the tweets, and we are going to lose interest in Twitter fast. Someone will then roll out a new thing or add the functionality like Linked In and Facebook did this year and boom -- Twitter will be last year's story. Someone else will come along and be the new star in 2010, and likely another new star in the year after. Facebook will continue to grow users but at a slower pace. At the same time, Facebook will fail to recognize the tipping point against it on privacy related issues and people will stop using the service. So Twitter and Facebook are to 2009 what AOL was to to 2000. We all still want a simpler internet existence without intrusive advertising, pirates or spammers. The very success of these services has brought in the advertisers, pirates and spammers already -- so we are going to be looking for other new new things in 2010.
The Bicycle Will Be Fine, Thanks
For several years we have built more and more features into products that only a fraction of customers have needed. From suburban dwellers buying giant Suburbans they don't really need to consumers buying Microsoft Office, we have foolishly overspent for features we never even intended to use. Many people have said that new simple services offered on the web are bicycles (Google Docs) trying to compete with Ferraris (MS Excel). 2010 will be the year that most of the world will convincingly say - The Bicycle is all that I need. This will stall the overall economic recovery because the dollars spent on the high end products are just not going to come back. It also presents many opportunities for the makers of the bicycles.
All Kinds of Noise -- No Real Change at Microsoft AND Google
In 2010 the competition between Google and Microsoft will get even more intense. The competition will drive all kinds of high profile activities -- mostly personnel changes at Microsoft and acquisitions at Google -- but by the end of the year Google will still get all of its revenue from search, and Microsoft will still make software for big businesses. So lots of action, not much real change.
Here are some of the lists I liked the the most so you can check them out and form your own opinions about what will happen in 2010.
The stage is set for 2010 to be a very interesting year. Your comments are welcome.