2021 Prediction #5:  Apple (and maybe Google) saves the world

Back on January 23rd, the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece by Kate Murphy titled America Has a GPS Problem, citing fear at the highest levels of government and industry that international bad actors might bring down the Global Positioning System satellite network, running your Tesla into a guardrail in the process. It’s just the sort of story you’d expect to read here, rather than in the Times, but what the heck. And the story is absolutely correct: we are all in danger. But Ms. Murphy, beyond wringing her hands, doesn’t say how the crisis will be averted or who will do the averting. I predict that Apple will fix the problem […]

2021 Prediction #4: WiFi 6 is a bust (for now) as Bufferbloat returns thanks to ISP greed

Remember Bufferbloat? It’s a subject I was among the first to write about a decade ago, starting with a prediction column just like this one in 2011. The problem at the time was that every video or audio application — the big bandwidth consumers — was trying to solve performance issues through pre-buffering. You’d launch Netflix (just one example — they all did it) and it would pause for a few seconds filling a huge buffer intended to smooth-out any playing glitches. Except performance didn’t improve and in fact got worse because of buffers buffering buffers. These extra buffers were defeating TCP/IP’s own flow control mechanisms, often leading to total […]

2021 Prediction #3: Get ready for more GameStops as hedge funds are no longer the only bullies in town

Sorry I got my puts and calls mixed-up in the e-mail version of this column. It should now be fixed. My 16 year-old copy editor says he won’t make that mistake again. — Bob

Today is my birthday. Thirty-five years ago today I was drinking coffee in my Palo Alto kitchen when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on TV. Thirty years ago today my father fell over, instantly dead of a heart attack while walking between gates in the American Airlines terminal at DFW. I was expecting a call, just not that one. Life is full of surprises and some of them aren’t good, as hedge funds are learning this week while their […]

2021 Prediction #2: Peak Facebook as Zuck runs out of role models

If 2020 was a Trump- and Covid-inspired year of social media excess, 2021 can’t help but see some reversion. But it’s more than that, with big Internet companies coming under greater regulatory scrutiny worldwide, especially Facebook and Google. This year is going to be a tough one for Mark Zuckerberg, especially. And while I don’t expect Zuckerberg to abandon his CEO job this year, he eventually will, simply because it isn’t as much fun as it used to be and there will come a point (maybe in 2022) when leaving the top job will help Facebook’s stock.

At this moment there’s reportedly a bot operating on Telegram selling for $20 or less the […]

2021 Prediction #1: Trump will do fine without Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

I’m no Trumper. This prediction has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with how social media actually works. Following the U.S. Capitol riot of January 6th, President Trump was bumped from nearly all social media, even YouTube, with many of those changes subsequently made permanent. These moves led to speculation that Trump would be hobbled without his beloved accounts, his immediate impact on public discourse muted without the ability to tweet. While this may be true in the very immediate sense, it won’t last. Even Trump, the technical luddite, will figure it out and roar back shortly with or without those accounts.

This prediction is very similar in thinking to a […]