As promised, however late, here are my predictions for 2010:
- Twitter still won't show that it can make money. Twitter doesn't want to show that it can make money: all the better for valuation, according to many. Sure, there will be more deals, including some form of Twitter Pro account I would guess, but I predict you'll find Twitter (and Facebook for that matter, although they've monetized quite nicely) with its ear to the ground for technology and competitive developments in 2010, waiting for sunnier pastures before exiting. What will that exit look like, and when? Ain't nobody saying.
- It's all about the RT. No, I'm not talking about Twitter's "re-tweets" here: I'm talking about the real-time web. The money that Twitter did get in 2009 came because it has its finger on the Zeitgeist of the web: the day-to-day, minute-by-minute trends and interests that content producers and attention whores alike want to get their hands on. Any technology that can help companies (or governments) put their fingers on the pulse of the public will be a prime target for money in 2010, both from private as well as semi-private and public coffers.
- The PDA will be reborn alongside the intention web. The "personal digital assistant" was a really cool idea, but nobody wants to carry around even two devices, let alone three, four or five (e.g., phone, PDA, camera, iPod, ebook reader, etc.). The next generation of the PDA is being incubated inside your smart phone, with umbilical ties to all of your online services, from calendaring to movie preferences to shopping lists. Jeremiah Owyang calls this "beyond real-time" wave of innovation the "intention web" (see graphic below), and your smart phone will be the nexus for it:
- The American auto industry won't die. Speaking of mobile devices, the ultimate mobile devices are seeing a lot of technological advances led by American companies. These advances are taking place inside the car, as well as around it. This reassures me that their death is not yet imminent. Ford's Synch technology comes to mind, thanks in part to the company's forward thinking when it comes to social.
- The newspaper industry deathwatch will lose steam. Speaking of death, the newspaper industry will also stay afloat, thanks to technological and business innovation. Dan Kennedy put it best:
At a moment when the newspaper business is hanging by a thread, it seems strange to suggest that maybe things aren't that bad. After all, as the Newsosaur, Alan Mutter, points out, 142 American newspapers shut their doors in 2009, and nearly 15,000 jobs at US newspapers have disappeared during the past year.
Yet if you had believed the headlines, you would have expected the mediascape to look a lot worse for print.
Most daily newspapers, in fact, operate in the black but massive debt accumulated during multiple rounds of consolidation earlier this decade were threatening their existence. The threat is still there, but it looks like there was more fat in newspaper operating budgets than many observers had believed. Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth has pointed out that her paper employs twice as many journalists as it did during the Watergate years, even after multiple rounds of cutbacks.
- Augmented reality will be a reality, sans the cool shades or half-blind pedestrians. Yes, we'll get a few pedestrian accidents as people try out phone-based augmented reality apps like Layar (below). But the real usefulness of AR aren't quite AR apps yet, but transitional steps toward AR. These include apps like Google Goggles, which does photo-based mobile searches (although it's far from ready for prime time); and the many barcode scanning apps that are starting to tie into price check databases and shopping apps.
- Wave won't be the next Twitter, but people will finally figure out some good uses for it. Recently I compared the launch of Wave to the Segway launch: much ado about, well, not much. But some of the Wave applications I've seen pop up have surprised me, and I remember what I (and be honest, probably you too) first thought about Twitter. I expect a few more practical uses, perhaps from the PR industry...
- The PR lines will continue to blur. Speaking of PR, it's clear that the lines between paid and unpaid media are rapidly blurring, and the consequences are disturbing. While some pros are optimistic about this trend, I share Mark Story's and Shel Holtz's concerns about the trend, as exemplified most recently by the Huffington Post's decision to offer sponsored posts and tweets. As Shel points out, will this prevent companies from participating in conversations about their company online, simply because they don't want to pay to play?
- [LATE ADD] We'll find something more interesting to measure. With all the talk about measurement and ROI this year, I couldn't resist adding one more prediction: we'll finally find something both interesting and useful to measure when it comes to PR and social media success. It certainly won't be ad equivalency or followers, and it probably won't even be ROI. Will it be engagement? No, that's just a fancy way of describing followers. I'd like to hear your thoughts...
- [LATE ADD (29 DEC 2009)]: Amazon will have much more to worry about than the Nook. Rumors abound that Apple will take a stab at a portable tablet device taking aim at eReaders and netbooks both. Will Apple try to get into the book business like it's done with the music business? They'll have a much tougher go at it, but it seems like a logical step.
Okay, that's all I have for you. Let's see how I do. Have a very happy new year, everyone!