It's time for the self-assessment of my predictions for the previous year. Here goes...
Government 2.0 -- if the Obama administration earned a mandate of any kind, it is in the area of government intervention in the free market. There will be opportunities in not just the modernization of government data systems/infrastructure, but also in helping government operate more efficiently and helping government help business. I expect to see billions of public dollars move into areas where Web entrepreneurs can benefit. This may be the biggest story in our industry in 2009.
Grade -- C
Yes, modernization of government has been a key agenda item for the Obama administration. But a few things made this somewhat of a non-story in 2009:
- Bigger problems in the economy and in unemployment,
- Government inertia despite the mandate,
- Policies driven to inject money into the economy quickly which (sadly) is counter to doing it efficiently.
The cycle begins to refresh -- the prospects for early-stage startups should improve throughout 2009. Why? We'll collectively snap out of the panic of 2008 and time will pass. We'll all look ahead more optimistically to the future. Remember, a lot of this panic has been the destruction of capital -- but a lot of it also has to do with capital sitting on the sidelines. It will be increasingly unleashed throughout 2009.
Grade -- A-
By and large, I think this has happened. Advances in real-time, social gaming, and social networking technologies have continued. Economic value has been created. In fact, a second tier of startups is emerging from these new platforms. I don't think things have gotten crazy, but I do think that startup people are a lot more positive today than a year ago.
Forks in the road -- I don't remember a time when the major players in our industry all had tough strategic choices for the future. Google needs a second trick. Microsoft needs a way to make progress in advertising. Facebook needs a business model. Twitter needs a business model. Loopt needs an acquirer? Yahoo needs an acquirer. Apple needs diversification beyond hardware. Some will find the answers and there will be some consolidation. The choices these major players make will determine quite a bit about the future of the Web.
Grade -- B-
Facebook and Twitter have largely figured out their business model issues. Reportedly, Twitter is now profitable on the basis of the search engine deals and Facebook is rumored to be in a position to do $1 billion in revenue in 2010. If that's true, WOW.
But the major players haven't really impressed me with their responses. Clearly, Google is out in the front of the pack with a few innovations in local search and advertising that could respond to actions by the emerging social media giants. Microsoft, Yahoo, and Apple have all done some rather incremental things to take advantage of social media in a big way -- but none have made big, bold moves to compete. I am similarly waiting for Amazon to jump into the pool as well -- we shall see.
The cloud computing platform & developer attention fight intensifies -- "Use my API and host it on our cloud platform" OK, I don't think we'll get to that point in 2009. But the proliferation of web services and cloud computing platforms will only continue this year. Open data has won just about everywhere on the Web. Amazon Web Services will be joined by competitive offerings from Google and Microsoft. What is common across all of this? The need to win over early stage startups.
Grade -- C+
This has happened to some extent, although the battleground has been over social/local/geo data from startups and relatively new market entrants. I do expect the battle over web application hosting to intensify -- just later.
All told, if I'm calculating my performance like a semester in school, I come up with a 2.68 GPA for 2009. Eh. The biggest issue here is my timing -- I was optimistic yet again about things happening fast. We'll see. Have a great remainder of your holiday!