2006 Predictions

crystal ball.jpgNo, I’m not going to predict what’s going to happen this year with the benefit of hindsight. But about this time last year Carlo and I predicted what would happen in 2006, so I thought it would be amusing to review what we thought. Were we clever bunnies or the class dunces?

Here’s what I said would happen and I’ll give myself a point for each right answer, as has become customary around here.

1. I said Apple would launch the iPhone and I was wrong on this, I admit – though I bet Apple wished I was right and had managed to move a little faster, as it looks somewhat inevitable that this will happen.

I actually predicted this back in August 2004, long before the rash of pundits talking about it all the time thse days. Why? Well, the iPod will be killed by phones playing MP3s and if they want to stay in the music game, strategically Apple have no choice but to go in this direction.

I still believe that the prediction is right, just off by a few months on timing. But not a great start for me with null points.

2. After years of false starts, I suggested that 2006 would see the thaw for mobile marketing, which would presage a boom in 2007 and beyond. And how right I was proved on this one. I started talking to Omar Hamoui, the sole founder of AdMob in April 2006 and was so impressed with his idea that I joined the company as the first employee.

Since then,¬†AdMob has¬†really taken off, just passing the milestone of 600 million ads served since the beginning, a monthly inventory of 400 million pages (or more) and¬†around 500 clients enjoying click through rates of up to 8% – and we’re the biggest mobile advertising company in the world.

So, mobile marketing certainly thawed on this evidence alone and I’ll give myself a full point on this one. Actually I’m tempted to give myself a bonus point to make up for being wrong about Apple by a few months, but I’ll be harsh on myself.

Just for the record, I knew nothing about Omar’s idea when I wrote my prediction. My gut feel said that the time was right.

5. If the numbering is confusing, Carlo wrote the ones in between.

My next concept was that the ringtone market would continue to contract (or implode). My thinking on this was a combination of the rise of Bluetooth sharing (unnoticed and unconfirmed until recently) and of user generated content, plus user wariness after being stung by inadvertent subscriptions.¬†And it’s only a matter of time before ad funded content starts to happen, though as it turned out, this wasn’t to be this year.

According to the latest report from¬†Visiongain “revenues from monophonic and polyphonic ringtones are [now]¬†in decline”, so I’ll give myself a point on that one. If anyone can shed more light on actual stats, I’d like to find out more.

6. We’ve written rather a lot about Gizmondo this year, so I won’t rehash the whole sorry tale here. I said they’d go bust this year and 20 days later the UK arm went into receivership, followed by the US parent a few months later. Mindblowing story.

9. I said that mobile TV and P2P video calling would struggle in 2006. History shows that struggle probably is too kind a word. One point.

10. I forecast that one of the UK’s newest products, Happy Slapping, would be exported – probably to Germany or the US. I’m sad to report I was right on this too, as this story on Emily’s Picture Phoning confirms. Doesn’t give me any pleasure being right this time though.

13. Watch the wave come in for java applications, as opposed to gaming, I boldly predicted, pointing to messaging and mobile banking as two areas to watch.

Well, I was certainly right on the trend and to point to messaging as one area to watch. I’ve recently written about Hotxt and Reporo, but there’s a whole bunch of people now in this space, many without funding and who will probably fizzle out.

Bankers have been a little slow on the uptake, but hey, what’s new about that?

But since I was predicting that Java apps would take off as a non-gaming platform, I get a full point. Shame Java is such a bitch to develop in.

14. Wifi enabled phones would be much more mainstream in 2006, quoth I. Hmm, well they are, but not quite as much as I suggested, so no points methinks.

19. I suggested that Microsoft continues to prove that it doesn’t get the mobile space and that Goog and Yahoo! would continue to steal the mobile headlines. I’ve seen nothing to change my mind on this and I’m going to claim my point.

20. My final call was that LBS would continue to disappoint outside pure navigation and it gives me no pleasure to be right on this one either. I remain a firm believer in Location linked to the mobile, especially in areas like MoSoSo and where the phone links the real world to the digital one, like a virtual mouse.

So, I’ll claim 8 out of 10 on that basis and the two I didn’t get are more a matter of timing than being wrong. About the same as the last two years then.

By the way, it’s very hard to remember the context of these predictions and in hindsight, it might seem a little easier than it feels at the time. So if you’re a Doubting Thomas, write 10 or less predictions for next year in the comments below and you’ll find out how easy or hard it actually is. Go on, be brave!

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