2008 Prognostications

Well, it’s that time of the year – to make prognostications for the coming year.

It’s a little late really – more of a Jan. 1 thingee, but last year I did them on the 6th, as well, so let’s call that a precedent.

(If you want to see how I did last year, view my 2007 Prognostications, with updates indicating how I did on each guess. I did pretty well, but my forecasts were – for the most part – pretty broad or no-brainers.)

I really have no strong opinions about this year; in many ways, I think this will be an uneventful year (boy, could I be wrong about that!).

That said, a look into the crystal ball:

  • HD movie format: By the end of the year, HD DVD will be the Betamax of the HD formats, with Blu-ray the standard. The announcement of Warner Bros. re: Blu-ray support is the end of the road for HD DVD, to me. (Update 2/15/2008: It’s over; Blu-ray has won.)
  • HD Standard hoses downloads: With an HD standards war in place, everyone and their brother focused on regular DVD downloads of movies and TV shows (and no one has really cracked this nut). With a standard in place, there will be more demand for HD downloads. And – with everyone whiffing on DVD downloads, it’s unlikely that anyone will figure out how to download HD (much larger) files. Again, I don’t see anything of lasting interest to happen in this space (some interesting efforts, to be sure, but…).
  • Google will stay out of the cell phone biz: I do think they will bid on the 700Mhz auctions, but only so they can license that to other cell companies – with the caveat that said companies support the “open protocols” (in other words, support Android and the ad-delivery system Google has concocted). I really don’t see Google as interested in supporting a cell phone network themselves (Google has great tech; but a Google Customer Support Center?).
  • The Desktop: Microsoft will essentially extended XP support and OEM installations for the near future; Vista will continue to be shunned. Apple will continue to pick up market share, especially via notebook sales. With the execption of the Mac Mini and high-end towers, Apple will become a notebook computer company in 2008 more so than any other year. Apple will be pressured to license its OS; Apple will not do so. Linux on the desktop will continue to be a niche market by Linux hackers and IT departments; no impact on the average user.
  • Yahoo still won’t find its focus: Perhaps that’s a little unfair, but Yahoo – one of the longest/strongest Web brands – is just treading water while Google (the upstart) is jet-skiing away. Yahoo has – in aggregate – more traffic, but it can’t quite seem to figure out what to with it. Such was true in 2007; it will remain true in 2008. (Update 2/2/2008: With an unsolicited takeover bid by Microsoft in February, Yahoo! is showing how [sadly] irrelevant it’s become.)
  • Ruby will remain a niche player: There’s been a lot of buzz around Ruby (especially with the Rails framework), but it remains a niche play. It reminds me of Python, which a lot of folks love – yet Python continues to be eclipsed by Perl, that (relatively) ancient, ugly, incredibly flexible/useful language. Both for Ruby and Python – as well as the Postgres database – standards matter. Like it or not, all servers out there have PHP, Perl and mySql support these days. Not as true for Ruby, Python or Postgres.
  • There will be some sort of DRM showdown: DRM doesn’t work. OK? So, if we’re going to put it on digital media, let’s standardize it, and make it flexible enough for the average user (crackers will always break DRM, if for no other reason than to “stick it to the man”). Or get rid of it for the most part. Music is is going that way; get over it MPAA and other owners of proprietary file formats (yes, that’s you Adobe/Microsoft/others…). Open is in, and I think it’s here to stay to a much greater degree than in the past.
  • RIAs vs. Ajax: Rich internet applications (RIA) – i.e. Flash, AIR (the new Flash) and Silverstream (Microsoft tries to be a Flash-killer) won’t take off this year, but Ajax (i.e. Google Maps and mash-ups) will continue to flourish. By the end of the year, any major site not featuring some DHTML/Ajax widgets will seem, well, quaint.

I don’t know – I just don’t see anything that dramatic coming down the pipe.

But – with the internet – it’s the stuff you don’t see coming that’s often the most interesting.