05 January 2015
It's that time of year again....
First, as always, we revisit the predictions I made last year, and see how well they stacked up. (Because, as I've said before, anybody can make predictions without going back to measure your accuracy; I believe in accountability, even to my own silly blog predictions.)
On 3 January, 2014, I said:
Windows 8/8.1/9/whatever gains a little respect, but not market share gains. Surface 3 is an awesome device--not because it runs Windows8/9/whatever, but in spite of it, for a lot of people. But beyond the Surface, are any tablets/mobiles running Win8/9/whatever getting much traction? I don't see it. Sadly, Windows remains a laptop-bound OS, though the traditional definition of "laptop" is clearly getting a makeover as PC manufacturers try to muscle in on the iPad space from the other direction.
Overall.... shrug About par for the course, 50/50 by my count.
So what do I see for 2015? Here goes:
"Big data", "Big data", "Big data". You will get sick of this phrase. What I didn't say last year was anything about big data, and frankly, the hype machine is not even remotely close to being done with this. EVERYTHING will be made into a "big data" play before 2015 is over, to the point where nobody knows what "big data" really means anymore... except for the people quietly doing it.
"Internet of Things". You will get sick of this phrase, too. Look, let's just call it right now: IoT is clearly in the overestimate-in-5-years/underestimate-in-10-years Bill Gates quote territory. We have no idea what IoT will end up looking like, practically speaking, and yet billions will be spent on people who claim to know exactly that. Save your money. Or, if you really want to give a smart-sounding consulting some cash to tell you what you already know, send it my way, and I'll show up at your place of business, look wise and distinguished, and tell your boss, "It depends" in fifty pages and with two-hundred PowerPoint slides. Everybody wins.
"Internet of Medicine" or "Big Med". I'm calling this one right here: with all the health-related big data plays going on right now, it's only a matter of time before some chirpy journalist or press agent coins this. It's a fascinating opportunity--there's a lot of really interesting and cool ideas around the intersection of big data-about-your-health, the wearables world, medical AI/data-analysis, and mobile devices, and just about every entrepreneur and VC is going after it. So within the next year or two, many of those are going to ship in some form, and then... I have no idea, but it'll be big/catastrophic, whatever happens.
"Tech bubble" becomes a "thing". Internet- and technology-related firms are getting ridiculous valuations, and those of us who were in the industry in the years leading up to 2000 know what this means. I'm sorry, but when a technology-training company gets valued at $1 billion, which is more than some Fortune-5000 firms that've been around for a half-century or more.... this is clearly "bubble" territory. Trust me, I don't want this bubble to pop, particularly since I'm supposed to be releasing a few courses through them, but I remember when everybody was certain that "Pets.com" was a multi-million Web property, too... and I remember when I worked for a company that thought technology training was a "recession-proof" industry. These numbers are ridiculous, and it's only going to take one high-value collapse to start pulling the rest of the house of cards down. Before 2020, you mark my words. In 2015, though, the warnings and arguments against those warnings are only going to intensify.
C# and Java will both make big announcements. C# 6 will probably ship somewhere in 2015 (they called the product "Visual Studio 2015", after all), and Java9 will probably start to make some news towards the end of 2015, though I don't expect it to ship. Those who care will take note, those who don't, won't. Really, we're kind of past the point where either of those languages are going to be interesting to anyone who's not already in that space.
Go is going to either take off, or crash and burn. Go seems to be approaching an inflection point, and while I'm not smart enough to know what's going to happen there, I think this will be a year of decision for them.
Microsoft acquires Xamarin. Microsoft seems to be coyly flirting with the idea, and really, it makes a ton of sense for them to do so: it gives them a way to be relevant on the two major mobile platforms without abandoning .NET or their own platform. Really, the only question that remains is what kind of cash it would take to do the buyout, and does Microsoft have that money available to it after its rather (IMHO) ill-advised acquisitions of the past (cough Nokia cough).
Amazon just quietly keeps churning. Really, this seemed like a pretty quiet
year for Microsoft's cross-Sound neighbor, and I don't know that'll change in 2015. Kindle seems pretty successful, but the Fire doesn't seem like it's gone far as a full-fledged mobile device. Amazon is fighting some brush fires on its borders over licensing and royalties, and that's probably distracting them in some major ways. (They're also developing a reputation as a firm that burns employees out fast, which also isn't helping, I imagine.) I don't think 2015 is a year of huge developments for them, but in a lot of ways, they don't need them--AWS is, as near as I can tell, the gold standard of "cloud", and as long as they just keep pace with whatever Azure comes out with, they're in good shape there.
Google continues to throw sh*t against the wall, looking for their Next Big Thing. What I mean by that is this: Among wine snobs, there is a story (possibly apocryphal) of a wine-tasting expert who had a wall in his house painted a very particular shade of white. Then, when tasting a red wine, he would throw the contents of the glass against that wall, to observe the color and the way the wine beaded and ran down the wall as part of his evaluation. Frankly, that kind of feels like what Google is doing: throwing idea after idea "against the wall" of public opinion, trying to see what stands out and looks great and garners interest. If I didn't know better, I'd say they're desperately trying to find a new line of revenue beyond AdWords, just as Microsoft a decade ago was desperately trying to find a new line of revenue beyond Windows. Expect a lot of announcements, a lot of "beta"s, and none of it with any kind of realistic or even well-planned business model behind it--including the Google Car.
Web use on mobile devices decreases in favor of apps. This is going to happen whether the public wants it or not, because companies have figured out that it behooves them to have you "trapped" inside their app (where they can control all the content) rather than on their website. More and more websites are going to try and redirect you to inside their app, rather than allow you to casually browse on their site, because then they think they "own" your eyeballs. The only way this changes is if/when some firm gets crushed in the court of public opinion by doing something really stupid... and that won't happen in 2015. Wait for it in 2016.
Hipster "Uber for X" apps will be all the rage. Every technology event is going to be filled with 20- and 30-somethings who are convinced that the world wants/needs an app that will allow customers to get X (service or good) delivered right to wherever-they're-standing, without doing one iota of business research as to whether that model makes any sense anywhere outside of New York or San Francisco. They will get millions in VC, confidently proclaim themselves the next Facebook, and then implode. (This might actually be what starts the tech bubble implosion.)
Mark Zuckerberg grows up a little. Remember his "You're washed up when you're 30" crack? He turns 30, and I suspect he doesn't think he's "done" quite yet. As he tries to become more of a "technology statesman" (which is really the next step for him), however, he's going to get caught up on that remark over and over again from people who just want to see him fail or be embarrassed, until he either admits, "Yeah, OK, I was wrong" or gets so frustrated he buys a small island in the South Pacific, screams "I hate you all!" and flees the country. (Hopefully he remembers to update his status before he goes.)
Larry Ellison buys a sports team. Yeah, he's got a yacht, but now Ballmer owns the Clippers. Paul Allen has the World Champion Seattle Seahawks. If either of the Google boys puts in for the Buffalo Bills or St Louis Rams, this is a given.... and I think he buys the Golden State Warriors.
Perl makes one final gasp at relevancy, fails, and begins to decompose. C'mon, when's the last time the Perl community made a "This time we mean it! Perl 6 is going to ship!" announcement? They're like the Daikatana or Duke Nukem Forever of programming languages by this point. If you're still using Perl, just accept fate, switch to Python, Ruby, or even Node. Nobody can take your memories from you.
... annnnnnnd I'm spent.
Happy New Year, everyone. May your 2015 be everything you want it to be, and a few more things beyond that. Be kind to yourself, generous to others, humble in the spotlight and lavish in your praise of those around you. Cheers!
Last modified 05 January 2015