I’ve been intending to write this all month, and until now have had to put it off due to a really busy month on SocialToo. I’ve been tracking multiple web startups this last year, and many news stories around technology. In January and end of December you may have seen the predictions of blog after blog for what they predicted will happen in the year 2009. I missed this opportunity last year, so this year, I noted mine on Twitter, favorited them so I could reference back to them, and will list those here for you to reference next year and see if I was right. Here are 8 predictions that will change the tech space in 2009:
1. SixApart and Automattic will enter the microblogging space (Original Twitter prediction) – Twitter has a monopoly right now in the microblogging space. Even though there are serious contenders like Friendfeed, it’s hard not to leave such a large network of connected people all communicating with each other, so competing with such is a hard task to accomplish. Like it or not, Twitter is still a micro-blogging platform, emphasis on “blogging”. It’s a way to express thoughts and news quickly, in short space, in a very social way. SixApart and Automattic, the two competing blog platforms that make such software as WordPress (that this blog is hosted on) and MovableType, know Twitter hits their audience and fills a void their platforms don’t fill at the moment. They will pose as serious competition by bringing the space of micro-blogging back onto the user’s blogs themselves. We’re already seeing them start this effort with SixApart’s Motion software, and Automattic’s BuddyPress. David Recordon at SixApart is already actively involved in pushing standardization in lifestreaming with Chris Messina and others, an effort Twitter is oddly absent from. Oh, and let’s not forget SixApart’s acquisition of Pownce, solely for their developers! At the same time, I asked Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Auttomatic what their competition to Motion was, and he responded BuddyPress was the answer.
2. Facebook will overtake Craigslist and/or Ebay in online classified sales, or become a very strong competitor (Original Twitter Prediction) – What??? It’s true, Facebook doesn’t even have a classifieds site right now, for the most part. They’ve taken most of it down, and what’s left is rarely used. However, Facebook has announced plans to integrate with existing online marketplace provider, Oodle to integrate their own social offerings and network with the existing Oodle marketplace. I still think there is a huge social marketplace that has not yet been tapped, and of all companies, I think Facebook is the one that gets this, and they’re trying to get it right. I truly believe this year is the year they’ll get it right, and they’ll do such with a combination of developer platform options, micro-payment options, and even more social ways to spread what you’re selling by word of mouth. However, with the tremendous size of Ebay and Craigslist, Facebook has a very steep hill to climb – we’ll see if they’re able to do it this year or next.
3. Robert Scoble and FastCompany will do something truly innovative with all the “likes” he has been sharing on FriendFeed (Original Twitter prediction) – While Gabe Rivera has done a tremendous job responding, Scoble has made no secret his frustrations and love/hate relationship with the service, TechMeme</a. And, as the most followed individual on FriendFeed, he has a unique position to present the news from that which he finds in his huge list of friends, in a social, living manner that others cannot. While, knowing Scoble, I know he does this because he truly enjoys new information, smart people, and innovating startups, I can’t help but wonder if some of his activity is in planning for something he is also doing with his employer, FastCompany. We’ll find out in the next 11 months I guess.
4. Facebook will launch a serious developer platform, solely for mobile phone developers (Original Twitter prediction) – I predicted this middle of last year, and Facebook has confirmed this, sort of, as Ben Ling announced at F8 last year that they would be releasing libraries for Facebook Connect on top of the iPhone at some point. I asked again in the following Press briefing, and he confirmed it there as well. I think Facebook has tremendous potential on the iPhone. While technically it is possible to integrate Facebook Connect and the Facebook platform into any environment with an internet connection, Facebook has not put their focus in this area for developers yet, nor have they made it easy. However, once they do expect an even larger boom for Facebook as they launch to the 3 billion world-wide cell phone subscriber base out there. Imagine not only friend and status information being shared, but geo-location, on-the-spot photos and videos, and more. I think this is the year for that to happen for Facebook.
5. People will grow tired of traditional social media services and move, possibly en masse, to bigger, and better solutions (Original Twitter prediction) – Microsoft has yet to seriously contend in the social media space. Google keeps trying and failing (or so we perceive). Yahoo has yet to be successful. However, each of these have massive chat platforms all with friends lists and networks that, with a little tweaking could be modified to work, just like Twitter, or possibly even Facebook or similar. Microsoft has shown interest in this by having a representative at Steve Gillmor‘s Bearhug camp last year. Each of these platforms dwarfs Twitter in size. I think there is a very strong possibility Twitter will either be acquired by one of these, or the big 3 will start competing in Twitter’s space and we’ll see serious competition out there. I think this is just one example of ways this can happen in the Social Media space we know today.
6. RSS will lose its anonymity (Original Twitter prediction) – one of the strong points of RSS is that anyone can subscribe, and no one has to know they subscribed to the content they want to read. However, in an increasingly “Social” world, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to remain anonymous. I think the days are numbered that RSS keeps its anonymity. With services like Feedburner beginning to fail, and services like Google FriendConnect and Facebook Connect taking shape, there is a serious possibility bloggers will soon be able to know each individual, personally, who subscribes to their blog. If you think I’m blowing smoke about this, just look over there on the right – see all those names and faces? I’m willing to bet each one of them subscribes to this blog.
7. FriendFeed will be acquired by a major news organization. (Original Twitter prediction) – FriendFeed, even more than Twitter, is a news source. It’s a way to gather and read more than just statuses, but blog posts, Google Reader shares, Facebook posts, and more, in one single location. News organizations worldwide are dying. It’s becoming too expensive to produce good content any more, especially as others are producing content for free via blogs and other mediums. For this reason, I think the successful News organizations will be Content enablers, not providers, and will be the ones providing the technology, and services for ordinary citizens to report the news where they are, at the time it’s happening. Of all available networks out there, I think FriendFeed does this best. Think I’m crazy? It already happened to FriendFeed’s competitor, SocialMedian, acquired by news organization, Xing. It happened to MySpace with News Corp. Smart news organizations will realize this and you’ll see many more acquisitions like those.
8. Content aggregation will move to blogs (Original Twitter prediction) – I covered this a little in number one. However, I think it’s worth re-emphasizing. People like to own their content. I think people are getting frustrated that they can’t aggregate, communicate with their networks, and more, through their own home base, being their blog. I think the smarter services will enable the ability to aggregate on users’ own blogs, and network with others’ blogs and content aggregation at the same time.
So there you have it – heard here first, 8 predictions that I think will change the web in 2009. In economically troubling times people are desperate – they work harder than ever to make things work, and I truly believe that much of the landscape as we know it will be different, come 2010.