Niels Bohr said "It is very difficult to make an accurate prediction, especially about the future."
As we ruminate on our 2007 predictions we also consider another of his insights... "Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true." Only time will tell!
Every year we take stock of the trends of the past twelve months, and take time out to map ahead.
We've distilled some of our favourites here for your consideration today and possible derision twelve months from now...
Internet connectivity and mobile
- There’s considerable consolidation of ISPs as few but the big boys can afford to deliver triple-play. Today, thinkbroadband.com lists 68 UK ISPs, and this list will whittle down towards 50 by the end of the year
- 2007 will mark the genuine start of the mobile Web (ie, browser based), a critical part of what has been coined Mobile 2.0. Security concerns will come to the fore as uptake drives through the early-majority phase
- Nokia will pass Apple as number one for mobile music devices, by number of devices and usage. iTunes sales will decline versus 2006 (although Apple maintains its refusal to break out the numbers) as the market grows more granular, driven by copyright owners' acceptance of less heavily restrictive digital rights management
- The long-anticipated Apple phone (aka iPhone) will emerge in 2007, but they will need to lean heavily on Motorola, and will it be ready for next week's Macworld expo?
- A second commercial WiMax service will launch in the UK (although Now continues to struggle to get the formula right)
- Mobile VoIP gains traction with Nokia’s Gizmo initiative, mobile Skype and Barablu
2007 is the year of IPTV in the UK (as opposed to TV on your phone, for which we wonder if there will ever be a year).
Web 2.0 +
- The rise and rise of social networks continues, but Myspace's userbase peaks mid-year at 65 million (note: that's users, not the more often quoted but irrelevant accounts) as it becomes apparent such services don't benefit from the same network effect underpinning eBay's continuing success. Indeed, the next generation needs to find "its own cool"; perhaps 2007 is the year of Wallop
- RSS / newsreaders will go mainstream end-07 as its use is simplified and integrated into the general Web experience and browsers
- Digg peaks in Spring and then experiences a decline as it becomes apparent the democracy isn’t working (unless they take some good advice)
- Increasing interest is placed on tapping collective human intelligence to complement machine processing. Compare Digg and RedDit to Google News (whoops!), watch out for Search Wikia, and you'll love this game and why it's very interesting indeed
- The semantic Web gets closer (ie, starts to be applied in earnest) and the pundits argue the merits of top-down text analytics versus bottom-up tagging
- More pundits will try and use the term “Web 3.0″ without knowing why.
- Vista's launch to small business and home users is delayed. Then take up is slower than anticipated as it becomes apparent the OS really needs 2GB RAM not 512MB (alright, maybe 1GB will suffice)
- Microsoft's core business will continue to come under attack. Business will question the need for Office 2007 when most of their "power users" acquire the moniker just because they can create tables of content in Word automatically; Firefox will continue to take market share from IE; and Google will continue its recent trend of cross-selling its web-based applications at the cost of clientside software
- SaaS will rise meteorically. Companies to watch include salesforce.com (of course, and companies building on their Apex platform such as DreamFactory), 37signals and Taleo. Related trends include equipping organisations' non-expert staff with the tools to mashup enterprise data and services, enabled by companies such as Teqlo, and the rise of "serviced clients" to enable offline working and clientside maintenance for user-driven data composition
- 2007 will be the biggest year yet for CRM and Business Intelligence investment as return on investment becomes increasingly tangible.
- The 2006 trend for enterprise storage consolidation will gather pace in 2007 as organisations seek to unify storage, reduce operational costs, instigate server virtualisation and reduce space requirements and heat generation. They'll also continue migration from fibre channel to IP for all but the very highest performance applications. The ROI for such consolidation should be a no-brainer for many
- Saying that, could 2007 be the year of the storage service provider?
- Intel may just make it this year with a WiMax integrated system-on-chip Centrino
- A no-name 32″ HD LCD will cost less than £400 (incl. VAT) by the end of the year, despite a mid-year hike in the cost of LCD panels as demand exceeds supply
- HP will extend its lead as the number one manufacturer of desktop and mobile PCs
- Having been announced in May 2005, Sony’s PS3 finally launches in the UK, and rapidly accrues a fabulous reputation despite the high cost. It becomes a must-have sensation, and the pivot in the Blu-ray .v. HD-DVD war, which will be concluded sometime in 2009! But more about that this time next year.