2005 Prognositications

Ah yes, it’s that time of the year again: Time to flaunt your ignorance by proudly proclaiming to divine future events.

Hell, it’s just fun to do, and – as are most lists – fun to read.

Without further ado, my 2005 Prognositications:

  • Theme of the year: Security – Hate to start off with a bummer, but that’s the big picture for 2005: Security from trojans, viruses, worms and other exploits. The winners of this derby will be the vendors (think Symantec) and ISPs (think Earthlink/AOL) who can seamlessly deliver this protection (“Mom, what ports does your firewall allow access to?” – there’s a conversation that’ll never happen…). The big loser will be Microsoft: large installed base, large target; OS and software built on pre-pervasive Net code, more brittle. At the same time, I expect MS to spend more $$ on security than any other single company next year.
  • Google will have another remarkable year – I don’t mean this in the financial sense (though I don’t expect their value [currently ~192/share] to tumble in an appreciable way). I think they will continue to innovate and have at least two major impacts next year. This year I count three: Gmail, their IPO and the bookscanning project. The latter has received the least press; in many ways, it will have the largest long-term impact.
  • Google will do something remarkable with Blogger – Google has really goosed up Blogger since the acquistion, but more flash (better tools, JS widgets and so on) than substance. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve taken Blogger to a whole new level, but I think they can do some really interesting things with it if they want to. I think the general dearth of significant improvements (such as those embodied for years in SixApart’s tools) signals that the big upgrade is coming.
  • Six Apart will struggle – As one of the most remarkable Net stories out there, Ben and Mena have a good sense for what users want and so on. However, the generally brittle nature of MoveableType (don’t flame; it’s just hard to upgrade etc for NON-geeks) will become all too apparent this year as blogging becomes mainstream. Look for a buy out.
  • Blogging becomes mainstream: – Bolstered by the divisive nature of the election, blogging actually became mainstream in 2004. Dean was an internet candidate; all candidates had blogs; bloggers brought down CBS/Dan Rather in a manner that would have been inconceiveable a year ago. All this made blogging acceptable; so look for corporate and media blogging efforts in 2005 to become as *yawn* as “..or visit or site at www.companyname.com” is today for just about any TV/radio ad. Simply put, in 2005 your mom will have heard of blogs.
  • Industry consolidation a-go-go – Expect to see more mega-mergers along the lines of Oracle/PeopleSoft & Compaq/HP. Expect some rancor to accompany the big mergers, as the two previously mentioned. One possible target is Gateway: If so, it will be by an off-shore company – not Dell or IBM.
  • Demise/decline of Apple and or Sun – I predict this each year to some degree, sometimes not doom and gloom, but never with expectations of progress. I see this year to be the same. Both companies will endure, gain a lot of press but not gain any market share; Apple will innovate more than Sun; Sun still won’t figure out how to make money off of Java.
  • A serious Linux virus/Trojan will surface – As marketshare increases, so does the size of the target. I hope not, but PHP just got hit with one; Apache 2.x was vulnerable about a year or so ago…it’ll happen.
  • This will be the year of broadband – Half of the US is now connected via broadband, but it’s been a long, painful process to get there. This is the year the incumbent telcos will pull their heads out of their asses and realize they can make money on DSL. SBC finally did this by working with Yahoo!; Verizon is starting to roll out DSL in an aggressive manner. While I love my cable modem, DSL is the answer to the broadband question: Delivered over the copper that’s already installed in just about every home. Yes, there are limitations (old lines, distance from central office etc), but it beats fiber (too costly), wireless (too flakey) and cable (not ubiquitous) in most cases. It’s the 80/20 solution that will make remarkable inroads this year. This always-on connection will help feed the security issue; instead of being online 3 hours a days, you’re connected 24×7. A port-scanner’s delight!
  • Outsourcing – Will keep increasing for manufacturing/development (why not?), but will decrease/not increase appreaciably for customer service. With computers becoming commodities, service is a point of differentiation. Dell has learned this the hard way.
  • Upstart Start-Up – Some new company is going to come on the radar this year and just blow us away (think Netscape/Google/Blogger). And it will probably be just a really well done job of something that – once you see it – is “duh! that’s so obvious!”
  • RIAA & MPAA will again duck and miss getting hit with the clue stick – Let’s settle back and enjoy(?) another year of mindless litigation, chasing after the wrong targets by these two entrenched institutions. The current political climate makes these antics more possible than a regulatory/judicial administration that accepts that the rules have changed/don’t apply to this or that area, but that’s just gravy: The big issue is these organizations have dug in their heels and won’t budge a bit. No, the internet/DVD/VHS revolution doesn’t make us rethink our business models; it makes us want to sue people who are leveraging (uh, stealing with[?]) these tools. Disney is still doing the “lock the items in the vault for seven years” thing. Why? When theaters were the only outlet, this made some sense. Today, someone who’s kid wants to see Toy Story will (if locked away) borrow a friend’s, rent from library, burn a DVD from somewhere, buy on eBay or whatever not because they want to do these (in some cases, illegal) things, but because they can’t buy it. Rather than sue Mrs. Mom for copying Toy Story, why not make it available for sale? In seven years, her kid’s going to be X years old and won’t want to see it anymore. Or has seen it so many times over at the Johnson’s house on their old VHS that there’s no way the kid’s going to beg the parents for it.

Mac Fanatics

Gina wrote a great blog entry describing the steps she took to clean and bullet-proof her mother-in-law’s Win98 computer.

Did the whole AdAware, virus protection, ZoneAlarm etc routine. Great reference for anyone who has to do same (and I’ve done my share of this, as well – believe me).

Yet the comments thread dissolved into (*sigh*) a whole “Why didn’t you just buy her a Mac?” pissing match. Even down to the “Gina, how much is your time worth? If you spent X hours at a $Y/hr rate, you could have bought a Z Mac for that money!”

It’s folks like this that give Mac users the reputation as being a little too religious, shall we say.

Come on folks, let’s look at this a little more rationally:

  • Would mom’s computer have been as hosed if it was a Mac? Probably not, but that’s hindsight. Let’s deal with the hand we’ve currently been dealt.
  • Mom doesn’t want a new computer – she wants her existing one fixed. If I brought a Yugo into a garage for a transmission repair, I’d be pretty pissed if the mechanic suggests I just buy a BMW instead. WTF?
  • The whole discussion of putting valuation on time spent cleansing the machine is just….icky. It’s family. With family/friends and so on, you just do stuff. The clock isn’t running. You’re helping out. As they’ll help you when they can.
  • Let’s pretend the discussion of valuation of time spent had merit. OK, you might be able to get a Mac for the price of your time spent fixing the Windoze box. But what about the cost of the software? A browser is one thing, but to work effectively today (and this may well change) you need MS Office. Pricey. And did mom have Photoshop on the Win98 box? You going to buy her a copy of Mac Photoshop (and so on…)? And installing and configuring same…the cost of converting just went up…
  • Mom’s used to a Windoze machine. You really want to have to have her learn all the new things she’s going to have to do to get stuff in and out of the Mac? She might even ENJOY the solitaire game.
  • If mom has a computer at work, it’s probably a Windoze box. Why learn two different systems? (Fun for geeks, not for non-geeks)
  • Let’s say mom’s up for a change to Mac: Want to transfer all her data and guarantee nothing will be lost in the transition?

And so on.

The comments on Firefox vs. IE make sense (and this is what Gina did): It’s a discrete piece of software that is free, looks and acts like IE and can automagically import all the IE bookmarks and so on. Beautiful. More secure, more versatile and no learning curve for user.