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Weekly Column

Rupert Murdoch Doesn't Read This Column: Bob's predictions for 2007.

Status: [CLOSED] comments (140)
By Robert X. Cringely

This is my 2007 predictions column, where I first examine my predictions from 2006 to see how well or poorly I did (my multiyear average is around 75 percent) then provide a list of predictions for the current year that are sufficiently vague that I may be able to squint and claim that they were correct, too, a year from now.

I have to admit up front that it doesn't look good. I still think I am on track, but many things are taking longer to happen than I expected, especially from Apple.

1) I predicted that Apple would announce iPhone and iTV products as well as content deals. The content deals happened and some of the iTV technology was demonstrated, but I think we'll have to wait another week or so for the rest, so I guess I was wrong.

2) I said OS X would run on generic Intel hardware, though Apple wouldn't support it. This is true in the sense that people have made OS X run on generic Intel hardware, but APPLE hasn't, so the item is wrong.

3) More products, services, and a stock split for Google. I was right about the first bits but that's like predicting sunset will come. The split didn't happen because I never realized how much cash Google was going to generate -- far more than they can even spend. So the item is wrong.

4) More bad news for Sun. That's true.

5) IBM customers revolt. It is happening slower than makes sense, but yes, they are revolting. True.

6) More Vista delay. I'm going to claim this one because the Vista that's just appearing was delayed twice in 2006 alone and is a shadow of what it was intended to be. True.

7) PS3 is in trouble as is Howard Stringer. This is all true. The PS3 was late to market, the blue laser diode shortage has hurt the company, developers aren't amused, and the word inside Sony is that Sir Howard is toast. True.

8) WiMax will suffer under Sprint Nextel. My feeling here was that merging the two cell companies would be too distracting for them to do very much with their top asset (in my view) -- all those WiMax licenses. Since they didn't roll out much of anything in 2006, I'd say this one is true.

9) Media Center PCs still won't take off as they try to compete with cheaper embedded devices. True.

10) TiVo will be bought. Obviously wrong, though I still don't see the company surviving as an independent. Wrong.

11) Intel will rebrand itself and nobody will notice. Intel did, we didn't -- true.

12) No desktop OS or PC from Google. People (not me) were absolutely convinced this time last year that Google was going head-to- head against Windows. Nope. It didn't happen, and won't. I was correct.

13) Skype won't make much, if any, money for eBay in 2006 (or 2007). Skype got a lot of press and moved a long way toward building a better service that makes more business sense, but the company is still at least a year away from making money. True.

14) Yahoo will surprise us. Wrong. Yahoo is in a crisis from which the company may not recover with current management. Sigh.

15) Apple will license technology from Burst. They should have by now but the companies are still fighting in court. For those following the fight, a hearing on February 8th will lead to a decision less than a month later that will tightly define this patent battle in a way that will make one party or the other very happy. Nothing will happen until after that so-called Markman Claims Construction ruling, but then events should move forward quickly. Still, I was WRONG.

That is my worst performance EVER. I got nine of 15 predictions correct for a 60 percent average. In my defense I'll point out that just because I am wrong now doesn't mean I'll still be wrong in another week. Three years ago I predicted Intel would support AMD's 64-bit instruction extensions, but they took 53 weeks to do so, making me off by seven days. I think that by the end of February, 2-3 of these predictions could still swing the other direction.

But enough weaseling -- on to 2007! These are in no particular order:

1) Apple releases iTV, a bunch of flat-panel MacTV's that contain Mac Minis, etc. This is broken record and exactly what I predicted last year, but I still mean it.

2) Apple settles with, takes a license, etc. Same broken record, same reason.

3) Apple (this is the last one, I promise) drops Akamai in favor of a different edge-serving CDN (content delivery network) -- possibly Apple's own or one Apple-labeled but Google-owned. I keep looking for a reason why Eric Schmidt is on the Apple board.

4) No one DRM technology emerges as the winner and the RIAA begins to back off as it loses a few legal cases. Still, no Internet-only song wins a Grammy or is even recognized as existing.

5) AMD and Intel continue to beat the crap out of each other with customers gaining but wondering why there is no software that supports those new 8-way processors, as both compilers and third-party developers fail to keep up.

6) Sony solves Blu-ray laser diode problem just in time for IBM to suffer production difficulties with the Cell processor. More bad news for Sony.

7) The Sony news is SO bad that it deserves two predictions. I would predict the fall of CEO Howard Stringer again if there were clearly somebody at Sony who wants his job. The business is in such difficulty that Microsoft is discussing internally how to help Sony from going under, since that would create a raft of antitrust problems for Redmond. I am not making this up.

8) Speaking of Microsoft, Windows Vista SP1 ships in June despite the fact that Vista structurally shouldn't require service packs. Except it will.

9) Zune 2.0 appears, isn't brown, but still nobody buys it.

10) The year the net crashed (in the USA). Video overwhelms the net and we all learn that the broadband ISPs have been selling us something they can't really deliver.

11) This one is subtle, you may have to read it twice. The year will see two kinds of large cap tech and media companies: those that destroy shareholder value quickly by acquiring companies and those that destroy shareholder value slowly by not acquiring them.

12) Some smart or lucky company will buy FeedBurner, which ought to be the YouTube or Skype equivalent for 2007. Yahoo really needs it and ought to buy, but being without a brain or a required sense of urgency Yahoo may miss the opportunity. Google ought to buy it but may not because Google has a similar service in beta that probably won't succeed. But SOME company will buy FeedBurner and start printing money as a result.

13) Sand Hill Road goes into a panic when it becomes clear that there is more money available than good opportunities for investing it, shades of 1999. No bubble this time, though, because the reasons behind the effect are different -- there is a decided lack of IPO activity -- but VCs will still be excessively crashing their MacLaren F1s as they see their era fading.

14) Remember outsourcing and offshoring? That tide turns for a bunch of reasons but mainly because a new class of CEOs will say the old class of CEOs was filled with idiots.

15) Google's Grand Plan is finally revealed, explaining all. Hey, wait, that's next week's column!

Comments from the Tribe

Status: [CLOSED] read all comments (140)

Hey don't forget YouTube videos are going to be available on AppleTV. Whoopee.

Dave Malhotra | Jan 22, 2007 | 10:59PM

Every creature needs to rest. Giraffes, little babies, elephants, dogs, cats, kids, koala bears, grandparents, moms, dads, and hippos in the jungle - they all sleep! Just like eating, sleep is necessary for survival. WBR LeoP

Pharmaceutical | Jan 30, 2007 | 5:37PM

Regarding prediction 5: At least for the Java community...

Wrong already, Bob. Sorry, no problem with 4, 8, 16 or 48 core chips here.

Pervasive DataRush

j2xs | Feb 01, 2007 | 6:22PM