What Won’t Happen on the Internet in 2010

Against my better judgment, I just posted a few predictions for the parts of tech and the Internet that I pay attention to. But maybe it’s just as important to note what won’t happen:
* Tablets won’t be the next big thing in client computing. Oh, Apple will create a lot of buzz over whatever it releases. But as my former colleague Steve Wildstrom notes, the key will be the user interface–specifically, user input. Like it or not, a keyboard is still key to doing (as opposed to watching) anything online. A virtual keyboard might work, and voice commands might work as a way to surf to the most-visited sites. But beyond typing 140 characters at a time, a real keyboard still seems mandatory. So does an easier way to upload video and communicate via voice and video in real-time. This is one reason the iPhone and other smartphones are so popular–you can take a photo or record video, send it, and then communicate about it all on the same device. I’m not sure how a tablet is going to do that elegantly–though if anyone can figure it out, it’s Apple.
* There won’t be as many tech IPOs as venture capitalists and startups are hoping. A lot of folks are predicting a significant number this year, and I don’t doubt there will be a noticeable improvement from the drought of recent years. But I’m skeptical that there will be enough to save the bacon of many startups and VCs. The economy’s too uncertain, and retail stock buyers don’t seem ready to step up for what they surely remember are very speculative investments. If I’m wrong about the number of IPO filings, it will be only because there will be too many offerings that people shouldn’t be buying anyway.
* In particular, Twitter won’t go public. Neither will Facebook (though I’m less sure about that). The thing is, both can afford to wait until the economy or the IPO outlook really turns around. There’s no reason for them to lead the way in an uncertain market and risk getting less than top dollar.
* Real-time won’t be a business, except for Ron Conway and betaworks. Oh, it’s important, but as I’ve said before, I think the appeal of most so-called real-time technologies and companies is the social aspect. In other words, the key thing is less real-time than real people.
* Online advertisers won’t escape a privacy backlash, because they’ve been careless about addressing people’s concerns. I think the real problem is poorly targeted advertising, since the right advertisement is likely to be overcome any sense of spookiness. If the ad scientists hadn’t gone all geeky and named targeting advertising “behavioral targeting,” and then often tried to hide what they’re doing, they would be in a much better position. “Personalized advertising,” fully disclosed, might have worked much better. But it’s probably too late for semantic tricks at this point–especially for lawmakers looking to make headlines. At the same time, this won’t tank online advertising, or even dent it much. Advertisers will find ways to get around any restrictions that are imposed, which will be so general as to be fairly meaningless.
* Google won’t get hit with a major antitrust lawsuit that so many have been predicting for years. It’s just tough to pin particularly egregious competitive behavior on the search giant–not yet, anyway. It also must have learned something from Justice’s slapdown on its aborted Yahoo deal. So while there will be some noise–perhaps around the Google Books agreement–Google may skate by. As it continues to vacuum up more online services, however, the US. or Europeans regulators will keep looking for a way to limit its power.
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  1. [...] What Won’t Happen on the Internet in 2010 [...]

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