It’s Prediction Time Again

It’s nearly the end of the year, which means it’s time yet again for Russell and I to do our now world-famous predictions for the coming year. I’ll kick things off by going over my predictions for 2007, then we’ll follow with our thoughts on 2008 later in the week. I scored 7.5 points out of 10 with my 2006 predictions; hopefully I can beat that. So away we go:

1. Lots of mobile TV hype, but little in the way of actual success: “CES saw some high-profile mobile TV from US operators and providers, and the news of launches will continue around the world this year. However, the actual results won’t match the hype, particularly in the US.”

Check. Plenty of mobile TV launches this year, but still very few actual users and revenues.

2. Widgetization: “There have been plenty of widget-style platforms for mobile already, but 2007 will see them take off as web content providers look for ways to offer easy access to their content and services, while users demand it.”

2007 certainly saw more widget platforms get launched, but did any of them really gain a lot of traction? Certain ones like Nokia’s Widsets have attracted a decent user base, but they’re far from being a mass-market phenomenon. Think I was a bit ahead of the curve on this one.

3. Mobile data services for automobiles will take off.: “For some time, automakers have been toying with building mobile data connections into cars — for instance, I remember seeing a BMW at CeBIT a few years back that could get traffic data and other info. But 2007 will see these services blow up.”

“Blow up” is a strong term, but I’ll give myself half a point here. Ford and Microsoft’s Sync system launched, and has gotten good reviews, while XM and Sirius’ information systems are working their way into the market. I think this will continue to grow, both with in-vehicle systems in new cars, and through connecting standalone nav units to mobile phones.

4. Mobile social networking doesn’t do much, but the action’s in mobile social media.: “Watch for media sharing apps and services to thrive this year, while big-name social-networking stutters on mobile.”

Well, the statement “I’m not convinced that people necessarily want or need access to their MySpace account from their phone” was pretty wide of the mark, but I’ll again give myself half a point here. There is a demand for social networking services delivered to people’s mobiles, but things are evolving to a more media-sharing-centric model than simply replicating the same experience as on a desktop browser. See Facebook’s BlackBerry app, YouTube mobile, Helio’s YouTube app, and so on.

5. Full-track music downloads over mobile will largely fail, leading operators and content providers to finally realize there are other aspects to mobile music.: “It’s not hard to understand why users avoid most mobile music stores: they’re overpriced and unappealing. That doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon, really, but operators will this year begin broadening their music offerings on a larger scale.”

I get a point here: full-track download stores’ sales remain low, but operators are starting to offer other services, like Vodafone’s MusicStation. Watch this space for more changes next year.

6. Mobile search will continue to run in place.

Check. This is an area where the hype continues to significantly outpace real usage.

7. More flat-rate data — and hopefully affordable flat-rate data — in Europe.: “More and more European operators will begin to realize this in 2007, and abandon their shocking, stupid and incomprehensible data charges.”

Flat-rate data plans certainly proliferated in Europe during the year, so I’ll take a point here too. As for abandoning shocking, stupid and incomprehensible tariffs, the jury is still out.

8. VoWi-Fi’s real impact will be limited to some pricing pressure on certain types of calls.: “ure, there will be more WiFi hotspots built in 2007, and more cities will build out hotzones and muni Wi-Fi deployments. But that’s going to be matched by a realization of the flaws of many of these networks, and further proof that they’re far, far away from being anywhere near capable of replacing cellular networks for voice service.”

No points here, if only because VoWi-Fi had essentially zero impact on the market in 2007.

9. There will be plenty of launches of WiMAX networks and others based on non-traditional or new mobile broadband technologies, but their largest impact will be felt by fixed-line broadband providers.

Check. I’m hard pressed to think of a mobile operator that’s quaking in its boots because of a WiMAX launch in 2007.

10. 10. Mobile payments will struggle in the west, but they’ll be supplanted by other RFID applications in handsets.

Ahead of the curve again here. Payments didn’t make a lot of ground, though we did see announcements like the test of integrating Transport for London’s Oyster card into mobiles.

6 out of 10. Not a great performance, though I hurt myself by being a bit too forward-thinking 🙂

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