It’s that time of year for the annual Prognosticators’ Ball, when most of us dine on humble pie. I will be opining on what’s coming in 2012 for the parts of tech I follow, but first a report card on how I did a year ago. Here’s what I predicted, followed by my completely unbiased assessment of each:
* There will be at least one monster initial public offering in tech. Take your pick (in more or less descending order of likelihood): Skype, Groupon, Zynga, Demand Media, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook (only if it has to). But despite many stories that will call this event a bellwether, the IPO won’t bring back anything like the bubble days of the late 1990s (and thank goodness for that) because there are still only a few marquee names that can net multibillion-dollar valuations.
Bingo! Four of those companies went public (and one, Skype, got bought by Microsoft), but it remains clear that the IPO window opened only a crack so far.
* App fever will cool. Good apps that encapsulate a useful task or bit of entertainment–Angry Birds, AroundMe, Google Voice–will continue to do well. But those apps that do little more than apply a pretty layer atop Web content won’t get much traction–and moneymaking opportunities are uncertain in any case. The bigger issue: Once HTML5 becomes the widespread standard for creating Web services, enabling much more interactive Web services right from the browser, I wonder whether the need for separate apps will gradually fade.
Wrong! I still wonder, even more this year, about the appeal of apps, which increasingly look like a return to the bad old days of constant upgrades. But the day of reckoning, if it ever comes, certainly didn’t happen in 2011.