God, I hate the year-end prediction wrap-up. The PREDICTIONS are fun, I can just sit here with a whiskey pounding them out, but the wrap-up? Gah!!! Fact checking, looking things up. This is actual WORK man...sigh.
Fine, fine....alrighty then. Let's see what sort of a score I can give myself this year - and see if I can outdo my 2008 75% hit ratio. I kinda doubt it since 2009 was so flippin' all over the place, but...let's get started:
I made 10 predictions at the start of 2009, and tried to cover the gambit from consumer electonics, to services, to the tech industry in general.
- Economic recovery begins in early Q3 for the tech and housing industries.
It may not feel like it to everyone, but the economy is definitely picking up steam. In my professional life, I have seen ad revenues increase significantly, and the number of available startup opportunities is on the rise. Both of these things began around August-September of 2009.
In more measurable, and less subjective, trending - the numbers show that the number of layoffs dropped significantly in November, and the leading economic indicators began rising in the US around the end of the summer.
- The Obama Administration revitalizes the tech industry within 6 months of taking office.
OK, I'm going to play fair here. The tech industry is in the midst of a recovery, but this "prediction" I made was pretty vague. Could have meant anything - so I don't really want to claim it. (Of course, I'm not claiming it as a loss, either.) Also, Aneesh Chopra is currently defending himself against Jon Stewart, so, uh....
- MEMS technology for low power / flexible displays hits the market.
OK, second time is the charm, but I'm still taking it. MEMS (microelectronic and microelectromechanical systems) display technologies are moving mainstream - whether its from the cleverly named Qualcomm spinoff (although its probably not a good sign that their COO just left at the end of December), or the nanotech from eInk and others, smaller, flatter, less-power-consuming displays are appearing everywhere. It powers your Kindle, Nook and Sony eReader, and its making its way into still more displays, but it's clear that the nano-based, low-power displays are here. (We'll know more after the Consumer Electronics Show in January.)
- Android phone sales hit iPhone numbers before end of year
Eh, chalk this one up to wishful thinking. Android, however, has started to show its promise in a major way as the year progressed. The plethora of Android based phones that we were promised last year, has started to make its way onto center stage. TMobile has the CLIQ and MyTouch, and, of course, the Verizon Droid needs no introduction. I can tell you from my professional experience, that video access by Android devices is way up, and info from AdMob shows both the distro of Android handsets as well as Android claiming 24% of all smartphone usage as of the end of November - mostly due to the Droid.
Still, total Android units are well below those of the iPhone, although a number of industry research firms are claiming Android will move into the top two spots within the next year or two.
- Digital delivery of home media makes a measurable change in broadcast TV numbers
The numbers are speaking for themselves here, which is why I liked this prediction - its easy to show. it may not be your grandpa and grandma, or even your parents, but viewers are beginning their shift to online - or at least - digitally stored media. Not only has iTunes, Amazon VoD, and Netflix experienced rapid adoption this year, but so has streaming services like Hulu, which now gets as many views as pay cable. In addition, DVR (digital recording and local storage of broadcast television) content has finally been started to be taken seriously.
In the fall, TheCW and Fox unwittingly entered an experiment. Both networks pitted popular genre shows (Fringe, and Supernatural) against each other. The result was that the Nielsen ratings for both shows (along with CSI, Grey's Anatomy, Flash Forward, and others) tanked. In fact, they dropped so much that Fringe, bizarrely enough, was moved to a "on the bubble" (for cancellation) category. However, once people woke up and Nieslen published it's DVR view numbers, it became clear that these shows maintained their viewship numbers, but were simply timeshifted. I suspect the viewing numbers will increase again, once digital downloads from Amazon and iTunes, and digital streaming from Hulu and the network websites are taken into account.
- Significant drops in Blu-Ray player prices combined with content publisher pressure to release existing titles in a new format will push Blu-Ray disc sales past DVD disc sales
Note: all units in the graphs below are in millions. At first glance, this doesn't appear to be a win. Using sales information available from HMM/Nielsen, unit sale market share of Blu-Ray is about 14%. However, when plotted on a dual access along side of DVD sales, an interesting trend occurs.
Spurred on by a 12% drop in Blu-Ray disc prices throughout the year, plus the availability of inexpensive Blu-Ray players and the ubiquity of Blu-Ray titles, 2009 Blu-Ray sales trajectory is outpacing the 2009 DVD sales trajectory. This indicates the beginning of the adoption curve for Blu-Ray and the end of the adoption curve for DVD.
Although the raw sales numbers won't catch up until mid-2010 at this rate, I'm a big enough of an asshole to still claim the win for this prediction.
- As Apple pushes deeper into double-digit territory for laptop sales, several serious viral attacks begin in the Mac community. Lack of adequate protection combined with consumer hubris will make the problems significant.
It began right in the beginning of 2009, actually, in late January - coming on board your lovely OS X laptop with, you guessed it, pirated versions of iWork '09. First recognized as a threat by Intego Securities on January 22, and calling itself Black Orange (these virus writers have awesome marketing departments, I must say!) it spread like wildfire through the community, indicating the number of people in the union of the Venn Diagram who think its a) ok to cop a piece of software, b) safe to be on a Mac. The virus was so efficient (well, the host was) that it was still prevalent as late as April.
The iWorks virus was followed by a parade of virus, malware and other yummy bits on the Mac, which - through no lack of coincidence - hit the 10% market share magic number briefly in Q2. The heightened sense of reality finally caused the "gold standard" in windows and linux based antivirus protection, Kasperksy, to release a version its antivirus software for the Mac....in frakin' October.
Mac boards have been all a swirl with confusion this year, some folks still claiming it wasn't possible for Macs to get a virus, and some irresponsible download services blogging that anti-virus companies were fear-mongering to get Mac users to buy anti-virus software. Yeah, not so much.
- At least one other additional security exploits occur in the basic structure of the aging internet protocol and backbones, forcing a rethink of the way packets are carried over the Internets
Late in 2008, Dan Kaminsky's now famous DNS security flaw was revealed to a stunned panel of internet backbone companies. Many complied (thank you Comcast) many did not (screw you Time Warner), but once patched, the 20+ year old security flaw seemed under control, and the fears were to be put at rest...
...until this year. When not one, but three other DNS flaws were uncovered.
- In January, a security flaw in BIND was quietly patched.
- In February it was revealed that a DNS caching error could allow people to redirect you to a false website, much like last year's Kaminsky error.
- On November 23rd, ISC reported another flaw with BIND.
Seriously, guys. It's over 25 years old. It was invented by a newly minted PhD at the request of guy who just wanted to clear up his own bookkeeping for 12 friggin' computers.
OK, I'm not giving these guys enough due, but come on. My bank records are using this thing. Let's clean it up and start again, please.
- Windows 7 arrives at the latter-half of the year, but the PR damage done by the mishandling of Vista's public perception plus the stillborn Microsoft marketing campaign PLUS John Hodgman ensures a tepid reception to the new OS.
Ok, I'm kinda happy about being wrong about this one. I'm not a big Microsoft torch bearer, but I'm not an Apple apostle either. Competition is a good thing, and having viable operating system on the market that hasn't been pre-tarred and feathered is an excellent thing. (Apologies, Linix ...but, come on...be serious please. And Google OS, you're still vaporware, at least in '09.)
Windows 7 is pretty damn remarkable - it made a 1G, 5 year old laptop of mine run like I just bought it yesterday, whereas Vista had it crawling to a stop upon boot up. All indications are that the market loves it too, and its been a critical darling since the reviewers got ahold of the alpha versions of the OS. If Microsoft's ass-backwards, destined-to-get-in-its-own-way marketing crew couldn't stop this product, Hodgman never stood a chance.
- Yahoo breaks up into its original component companies, or at least puts them on the auction block, before Q4.
Effing Yahoos. No, they didn't divest....
...or spit up.
...or fall apart.
...or fade away.
...or come on strong.
What they did do was spend the year playing c-tease with Microsoft, and coming up with this winning multi-bazillion dollar ad campaign. "Yahoo! It's You?"
Eff You! Seriously. What EXACTLY do you guys do for a living? Search? Ads? Email? IM? WHAT? Really, I'd love to know. Oh, that's right, you reactivated rocketmail! Sweet! You know what? I've been missing Compuserve lately, think you could re-animate that dead tissue, too?
Sorry...I'm just bitter at losing a point on this one.
10 predictions...I was right or dead even....7 times. 7 out of 10. 70%. That's a drop from last year. Huh. Uh...well...uh....