It's time for our annual predictions post, in which the ReadWriteWeb authors look forward to what 2009 might bring in the world of Web technology and new media.
Looking back at our 2008 Web predictions, we got some of them right! "The big Internet companies will [embrace] open standards" (Google, Yahoo and others did this); "Mobile web usage will be a big story in 2008" (check!); "Web Services platforms will be a fierce battleground" (Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine were released and AWS grew). We also got some wrong, including most of our acquisition picks! Digg, Twitter, Zoho, Tumblr - all remain independent. Not to be deterred, we've made new acquisition predictions for '09... although the names will be familiar ;-)
So check out our predictions for '09 and please contribute your own in the comments.
- iTunes adds social networking features; but it's still a closed development system.
- Facebook signs up to OpenSocial; whether or not this happens, there's no doubt that Google will continue to collect big name supporters for the various open standards initiatives which it has started in the last couple of years.
- Yahoo sells to a big media company, but it won't be Microsoft; Yahoo getting bought is a big call and I hope I'm wrong about it - but e.g. I could see the likes of Rupert Murdoch swooping in if things get much worse for the former dot com high flyer.
- Microsoft releases a cool online version of Office, but then Google releases an amazing new version of Google Docs; Microsoft promised the first bit at PDC '08, but when that launches I forsee it being trumped soon after by Google releasing a more powerful version of its browser-based Google Docs. One that is comparable in user experience (but not features, because that is unnecessary) to MS Word. This new version of Google Docs may be limited to Chrome at first, but it will get a lot of attention and scare the bejeebers out of Redmond.
- Health web apps start getting attention from mainstream people and media; big breathless profiles from the likes of CNN, Time magazine, etc. Unfortunately health system red tape remains a tangly mess, for another year.
- Apps that do filtering, inferring and recommendation have a great year; several will release plug-ins for Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook and other 'sipping from the firehose' apps.
- The usual suspects will remain unacquired in '09: Digg, Twitter, Technorati. The one that does get bought is FriendFeed - by Google probably, given that it was created by ex-Googlers.
- Media properties prominently experiment with different and innovative types of online advertising; in other words the move beyond CPM starts to actually happen, due to the down economy, after years of CPA type predictions. Related, a stunning new metric will emerge that accurately determines the success of media properties beyond mere page views (ok that one's wishful thinking maybe!).
- Lifestreams will continue to evolve; From the explosion of the newsfeed-powered Facebook to the experimental polling technology of FriendFeed, 2008 was a big year for the "lifestream" - the technology of aggregating data from all your activities on different social networks around the web. No one summed it up better than Mark Krynsky in his Lifestream Blog post The Year in Lifestreaming for 2008. In 2009, I'll be watching the parties above, but also MovableType's Motion, social media ping server Gnip, Strands on the iPhone and Chris Messina and friends' new working group on Activity Streams.
- Facebook will continue to surprise; I love to hate Facebook, but Mark Zuckerberg and company keep bringing me back to a state of...impressed. I wish open standards ruled the world, but Facebook Connect is so compelling that it can't be ignored. I'd like to see Data Portability prioritized a touch above full-blown privacy, but Facebook's relatively tame version of portability is getting real traction while others are stuck in the land of promises and proofs of concept.
- Big companies will have incentive to give OpenID more support because of Facebook's domination; Support has been relatively tepid in the past. When you're winning, open standards aren't in your interest. When you aren't, they become much more appealing. MySpace, AOL, Yahoo - all have made meaningful moves to support OpenID before, but now that Facebook is clearly dominating them all, I expect to see these companies make bigger moves towards OpenID and other standards.
- Have cake and eat it too solutions will emerge as a strong option; Have you seen JanRain's RPX plug-in? It lets users log in to a website using OpenID or proprietary methods, like Facebook Connect, through the same interface. It's really pretty, too. There are other examples of this kind of paradigm, but I expect to see them proliferate in the coming year.
- One or two interface developments will blow us away; The iPhone inspired countless people about user interfaces, unlike anything else has in a long time. Somebody's going to blow our minds again. Information overload alone demands radical innovation, and it's in the works all around the world. Maybe it will be Mozilla, maybe it will be in gaming, perhaps in Adobe AIR, or it could be in Microsoft's Silverlight. May it not be a brain implant.
- Twitter announces they have a plan to make money. They do.
- New iPhone is released with video recording capabilities.
- Facebook Connect becomes new de facto way to login to web sites.
- Google Reader gets themes.
- Digg still not acquired by anyone.
- New real-time web app launches that integrates Twitter, FriendFeed & more in ways we never could have imagined.
- Out of work journalists band together and create some killer blogs.
- Google Chrome adds plugins...one of them is a Google plugin that lets you integrate Google Mail, Reader, & other Google products/services right into the browser.
- Netbooks stay hot...get lighter, faster, thinner, but thanks to variable pricing from manufacturers, line between notebooks and netbooks blurs.
- Google backlash begins.
- Apple backlash does not.
- New iPods released...now with VOIP app built-in. AT&T concerned.
- Professional twitterer becomes a real job.
- VCs jump onto the SAAS bandwagon, but most ventures don't need the cash.
- More Indian start-ups go global with price-smashing strategy.
- 2009 will be like 2002 for raising money or exiting.
- P2P shows value for reducing cost of server farms.
- Consumer and regulatory backlash make online privacy into a key differentiator for major players.
- Digg still won't be bought.
- Twitter will start to embed advertising into its users streams as it slowly becomes mainstream.
- Google will finally offer a comprehensive online storage solution and some kind of travel product.
- Lifestreaming apps like FriendFeed will remain niche products that only serve the early adopter market.
- Streaming web video to the living room will go mainstream.
- If Apple finally enables its push server, mobile social networks and geolocation enabled apps will become a major topic next year.
- Google loses goodwill, Yahoo gains.
- Microsoft resurrects WebTV after buying out Netflix.
- Mixx concentrates on usability and starts gaining ground on Digg.
- Facebook has one security incident too many, leading to a decline in popularity.
- The value of having a unified system for data portability and single sign-in services becomes unmistakable after a significant privacy breach.
- Twitter will be acquired (probably by Facebook--but multiple suitors will compete for the deal).
- Due to new leadership and a slow economy that has people more focused on their professional network, LinkedIn will grow in the public's consciousness and more importantly grow their revenue dramatically.
- Exciting new open source projects will emerge and grow due to a growing number of un/under employed engineers.
- Unfortunately, Facebook Connect authentication will become dominant method for authentication on the web (while this is my prediction, I'm still rooting for a more open solution).
- Microsoft will launch a competing platform with Apple's App Store. The reaction from the market will be underwhelming.
- Twitter is going to continue to grow and eventually get acquired, while Facebook is going to see further decline.
- Amazon will further strengthen its position in the cloud computing market, by launching more of its Web Services and gaining more clients for existing ones.
- More contextual browsing technologies will hit the market powered by improved top-down semantic recognition engines.
- The browser wars will further heat up, with Google throwing marketing dollars and distribution deals behind Chrome.
- With the economy continuing to tank, Microsoft will double-down on its Facebook investment, garnering more control of the company - and more access to the data being gathered through Facebook Connect.
- Google will finally solve the issues that have prevented its adoption of OpenID logins for all Google services. That, combined with EAUT, will make Gmail accounts the de facto login credential on the Web.
- One of the major gaming platform companies - Nintendo, Sega, Sony - will begin acquiring small iPhone development shops in an effort to translate titles to the iPhone format and to corner the market on iPhone gaming.
- Under pressure from iPhone, Android, Symbian, and RIM; Windows Mobile will attempt to reinvent itself. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it will be about as successful as Vista and the Zune.
- eBay - the Yahoo! of 2009 - oscillates between break-up and acquisition. After a great deal of drama, it will eventually be acquired by Amazon and incorporated into its seller storefront offering.
There you have it, the picks of the ReadWriteWeb team; what about your predictions? Let us know in the comments, so we can check who among us all has gloating rights at the end of 2009.