Revisiting My Predictions for 2006

Since I made a series of predictions for 2006, I thought I'd go back and see how many actually came true.

1) Google Launches All-in-One Suite
I've been expecting this for some time, as have other folks, I'm sure, but I think 2006 will definitely see this announcement. Google will, I predict, launch a converged, multi-purpose, browser-based work environment -- lord knows what it'll be called, maybe GoogleDesk or something like that. Anyway, it will incorporate and integrate many of the disparate services that Google currently offers plus add a few. GoogleDesk will integrate Google search, Gmail (plus an enhanced contacts management function), Google Maps (auto-mapping of contacts, natch!), Blogger (for publication/hosting of created content), a new mini-suite of document tools based on the OpenOffice standard (so you can create word processor documents, spreadsheets, and presentation files), GoogleBase (the use of which will become more obvious with time), and Google News (of course). All these will be wrapped up in a browser-neutral (although I wouldn't be surprised for Google to cozy up to Mozilla to enhance Firefox with some special goodies), Java-based interface. Personally, I eagerly await this.

Kinda, sorta true. Google's offerings did indeed multiply in 2006, with Google Documents and a raft of other new and enhanced online services popping up. Technically, they haven't all been integrated into a single UI, but given they all work in a single browser session, that's pretty close.

2) The HD-DVD/Blu-Ray war ends...Blu-Ray wins
Yes, Sony will finally be able to claim a victory in the format wars. After so many failed attempts at ruling the world (cue Pinkie and the Brain theme) -- Betamax, minidisc, all the various flavors of Memory Stick, etc. -- Sony and friends will edge out the HD-DVD group and Blu-Ray will become the de facto format for HD content. That is, until something better comes along almost immediately, but hey, that's a prediction for next year.

The war ain't over, but I think most people who follow the industry would agree that Blu-Ray, despite Sony's floundering on the PS3, has more behind it than does HD-DVD at this point. It will likely take a few more years for the winner to become obvious -- until then, consumers will just be faced with more options they couldn't really care less about. After all, normal DVD looks pretty good on an HDTV and more people are choosing to take their video with them on the go; high-definition is the least of concerns for the joe wanting to watch Family Guy on his iPod.

3) The Linux-based replacement for Palm OS comes out
To limited acclaim in the West, it is immediately adopted by a significant number of Asian companies for its cheap, flexible architecture. The number of devices (almost entirely phones) running it by the end of 2006 will be around 10 in Asia and zero (maybe 1 or 2) in the West (US + Europe).

Wrong. Well, ALP (Access Linux for Palm) was released, but I've yet to hear of any actual adoption, so I'll just have to chalk this up to pure optimism.

4) Nokia will launch a Linux phone
Following the nascent success of its Linux-based 770 Internet Tablet, Nokia launches its first phone using a Linux-based OS. It mimics the S60 in look and feel. It does well, but not markedly so, causing much speculation and debate around the web about whether Nokia is abandoning S60 entirely.

Nope, didn't happen.

5) Democrats regain control of US Senate, make gains in HOR
The margin won't be enormous, but the Senate will once again be in the familiar (and, arguably, beneficial to the electorate) position of being led by the party not in control of the White House. More negotiation will result in 2007 and something a wee bit closer to "democracy" will return to the US shortly thereafter. Still a long way from acceptable, but closer.

Pretty much right on the money. In fact, you might say I underestimated their gains. Looking forward to a government much more balanced by checks and balances than it has been lately.

6) Windows Vista will launch, Apple users yawn
Windows Vista (launched in early Q4) will excite few, especially in the corporate ranks, due to the combination of a lack of "must-have" improvements and unattractive licensing structures offered by Microsoft. The 17 or so flavors of Vista will also leave consumers puzzled over which version is best for them and ultimately wait until they replace their hardware to upgrade. Given that processor speeds aren't increasing much and hard drives are getting easier to replace, there will be fewer changing out their PCs. Microsoft faces a tougher year than usual next year regarding financials; Windows Mobile and Xbox divisions still not profitable (but closer).

Sounds like a pretty accurate description of what actually happened.

7) Digital/HDTV makes big inroads
2006 will be the year of the migration to HDTV. Falling HDTV set prices (especially DLP and LCD), plus an exciting bounty of converging digital content, will usher in a period of rapid adoption that will continue into 2007. Content providers will actually start getting significant numbers of complaints when they broadcast non-HD content on their HD channels, leading to fewer programming lapses.

For the most part, yup. The sales of HDTVs were so large this holiday season that they actually affected the profitability of several large electronics retailers. So I guess it's clear that HDTV is taking off as expected. What remains to be seen is whether the broadcasters actually start paying attention now that HD viewership is climbing into significant numbers.

8) Satellite radio subscribership grows, but limited
Sirius and XM will continue to gain subscribers, but neither will top 10 million by the end of 2006. Someone will launch a mySatelliteRadio service that lets users listen to their personal music collections via satellite receiver (think MP3.com's old model applied to satradio). The RIAA will eat it for lunch, with a few hundred new downloading lawsuits for dessert.

XM had less than 8 million subscribers at the end of 2006 and Sirius had about 6 million, with the latter growing more quickly. Both are growing more slowly than the companies had predicted (and promised to investors), so that part of my prediction is absolutely spot on. I haven't heard of anything like the mySatelliteRadio service being launched, but given that many satellite receivers now enable playback of MP3 files, the two music sources are definitely getting closer.

9) TiVo is acquired
I don't know by whom, but I think this will happen within the next 12 months.

Ahem, no.

10) Resurgances of sci-fi/fantasy TV shows
The recent success of Battlestar Galactica and Lost, and the big money that the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises generate cause network television studios to start prepping more science fiction and fantasy content. A friend of mine thinks I'm daft to predict this -- we'll see. If not next year, then 2007. Or not.

Not exactly, at least not on the major networks. They are still heading towards the safe-and-familiar lines of reality/unscripted programming, dramas, and situation comedies. Alas, none of those are in space or in a castle somewhere. Too bad.

So, in the end, I had 5 predictions true or mostly correct, 4 that were mostly or completely wrong, and 1 that was unclear. Stay tuned for my predictions for 2007...