Last year I predicted five plus things that would happen in 2011 and while I didn’t hit any out of the park, I wasn’t too far off on most of them. Google did successfully launch competition to Facebook and cable companies have been bringing in their own streaming services. The hype around private clouds and disk based software has died but in the end, Apple didn’t buy Salesforce.com.
This year to make it a little more interesting, I am going to rate the predictions on a confidence scale of 1-10. 1 being the longest of long shots, 10 being a sure thing.
1. Meetings Go Free
While WebEx and GoToMeeting have been dominating the online meeting space for years the writing is on the wall for these types of services to get challenged from all directions. Remember when Email used to be a paid service and exclusive? Me too. Next year will bring the onslaught of open and free cloud based meeting services that will ultimately take the wind out of the sales of $49.95 a month online conferencing. It will be built into everything and a add-on to most services. Look for Google to include something in their Google Apps package to bolster their offerings.
2. Apple Buys Netflix
I know I am always predicting Apple to buy something, but this just makes too much sense for the consumer. Apple is rumored to get into the television market and needs online content to stream. Netflix has the model and is built into every Apple device via their mobile and Apple TV apps. A purchase like this gets Apple a subscription service and Netflix the capital to expand to new audiences. I would replace Hulu for Netflix if I wanted to hedge my bets.
3. Online Storage Goes Mainstream
With no facts to back me up I think that the world of online document storage services is mostly used by the technically savvy. The prediction is companies like Dropbox, Box.net and Apple heat up the market by making this part of the consumer conscience and something everyone will be talking about around the Thanksgiving table next year. They will be built into every device, be easy to understand, and extremely affordable. Consumers will stop referring to their desktop or hard drive and will look to the clouds. (sorry Microsoft)
4. Email Overhaul
I have been asking for it for years and next year I get my wish when someone steps up and redefines email. It won’t be Google Wave, it won’t be Facebook Messages, it will be a new layer of email that includes all the hooks and interactions of the social networks and the abilities of current email. It will be the start of the resurrection of email and bring it back to relevancy for the consumer and plot a path for the enterprise. It will be game changing.
5. Huge Privacy Attack & Backlash
The golden years of social networking will end in 2012 when multiple social networks will be targeted and successfully attacked exposing millions of points of private data. It will be front page news and the backlash and privacy concerns will come home to roost. It won’t be pleasant and I am hoping to be wrong but it feels like it has been an age where more and more people share more and more information without incident. It will also help to start to put limits on what people share and when, maybe making some of these social networks unhappy, but others smile as it cuts down in nonsense updates.
Long Shot: Bye Bye Blog
The use of “Weblog” or “blog” will make a huge decline next year and the media will start to report it as dead. It will be merged back into social pages and websites where the three will meet in marketing trinity. No longer will you think about a website or a blog or a social page, they will all be combined into one connected source where the start of one and the end of the other is transparent.