Uh-oh, it’s almost time for my annual technology predictions but, as usual, I will begin by taking a look at my predictions from a year ago, which I fear were pretty dismal. Why I’m the only pundit to voluntarily go through this agony I don’t know, but a cursory look shows that I missed with several predictions that I still believe will happen but my timing was off. Still, wrong is wrong.
In a rare bit of SEO-centrism last year I spread my predictions — right and wrong — over several columns. This year might take more than one as well, because I have a few doozies. But first let’s look at how I did the last time so you can decide whether it is even worth reading further.
I wrote about how bufferbloat was going to be a big problem in 2011. Bufferbloat, you may recall, is the name for our propensity to use hierarchies of buffer memory in our applications, operating systems, routers, gateways, and modems, totally screwing-up the flow control algorithms built into TCP/IP and thence the Internet. You suffer from bufferbloat if you have a multimegabit Internet connection that still needs to periodically rebuffer during that episode of Glee. We all have it. My 12 megabit-per-second cable connection isn’t notably snappier than the 384 kilobit-per-second COVAD DSL I had back in 1998, yet it should be.
I got this one right. Modem and router makers are wrestling with the problem which remains unsolved but things are looking better perhaps in 2012. There’s not a lot of press about bufferbloat because it is so arcane but geeks are reeling, believe me.
Then I said Apple’s white iPhone 4 would be the Verizon iPhone 4. That was just a guess and a bad one like when they try to tie up all the plot lines at the end of a contrived movie. Wrong, wrong wrong.
I predicted that 1.8-inch disk drives would die and 3.5-inch drives would go into decline. Well the world is down to a single 1.8-inch manufacturer in Toshiba and they have talked about an end date for production, but drives are still being built. As predicted 2.5-inch drives are in ascendance, especially following the floods in Thailand, but 3.5-inch drives are certainly still being manufactured. This one’s inevitable in the long run but the timing wasn’t right for 2011 so I got it wrong. That makes two wrong and one right.
I predicted your cable ISP wouldn’t solve bufferbloat because it wasn’t in their interest to do so and that’s true. Bufferbloat may hurt ISPs a little, but it hurts over-the-top video services like Netflix and Hulu a lot and cable TV companies like that. It hurts VoIP phone services like Vonage more than it does the telco’s own VoIP service which uses a dedicated channel. So cable ISPs are ambivalent about the problem. This one was correct: two wrong and two right.
I predicted that Facebook would fork, by which I meant that the company would introduce a professional service to go more directly against LinkedIn while simultaneously dumbing-down their general purpose product. I could argue that this is exactly what happened, but both services grew and morphed so much over the 12 months that it would take an expert to prove much, so let’s call this one wrong. Three wrong, two right. Ugh.
I predicted that Yahoo would barf, by which I meant (and wrote that I meant) the company would begin exploring the sale of its foreign holdings, which it has. Three wrong, three right.
I said Microsoft was the new IBM — big, complacent, profitable, but still adrift in terms of products with Windows 7 Phone a likely failure and tablets still at least a year away. I wrote, too, that Steve Ballmer would survive as CEO. All correct. More on this tomorrow. Three wrong, four right.
I wrote that Google would be the new Microsoft. Based on both attitude and legal bills that’s absolutely correct. Three wrong, five right. I may pull this out after all.
I predicted that there would be the first significant failures of cloud computing http://www.cringely.com/2011/01/2011-prediction-8-cloudburst/ in 2011 and there were three big ones — Google Docs, Windows 365, and Amazon’s EC2 all went down in spectacular fashion. That’s three wrong and six right.
I predicted what I called Apple’s Carolina Strategy, which is what I’d try to label iCloud if I were a less honest guy. The idea is there, I think, to put most of our data in the cloud and run our iDevices as glorified thin clients, but as far as I can tell that Carolina data center isn’t even in operation yet, so I can’t claim this as a win. Four wrong, six right.
Finally, I totally blew it when I said Apple would buy Time Warner Cable. It was plausible that they’d mak such a big move but over-reaching and it certainly wasn’t going to happen while Steve Jobs was dying. I’ll have more — a lot more — tomorrow on how I think this Apple strategy is actually evolving post-Steve.
Final score is five wrong and six right, which is pretty dismal.
You may score it differently of course, but I hope you’ll come back in a few hours to read the first of probably two columns of 2012 predictions, a couple of which are sure to astound you.
This year I’m taking no prisoners.