Revisiting My Predictions for 2007

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As I've done in previous years (2005 and 2006), I've gone back and taken a look at what I predicted for 2007 to see how Nostradamusy I was. Here's how I did:

1) Apple's iPod continues PMP domination Thought I'd start off with a safe one. Yep, I don't think too many would argue that the iPod is poised to remain the de facto standard in portable media players. Given that the #1 seller in Amazon's electronics category during the 2006 holiday season was the iPod by a significant margin, and given that accessories for all other PMPs combined amount to about 1/100th of what's available for the iPod, there's really no doubt that newcomers will have a hard time challenging the king, despite any technical advantages.

Like shooting fish in a barrel, this prediction was. Not even a late rally from Microsoft with its redesigned Zune put much of a dent in iPod sales for 2007. +1

2) 802.11n gets ratified and gear floods to market 802.11n, the next generation of that family of wireless networking standards, has been forever in getting off the ground. 2007 should see its final certification, opening the gates to loads of networking hardware compliant to the new standard.

Yep, pretty much true. I think 802.11g gear still well outsold 802.11n in 2007, but 2008 should see that balance shift as 802.11n prices come down and it becomes integrated into more laptops. +1

3) Film cameras all but disappear from electronics stores While you'll still be able to find cheap disposables, it will become nearly impossible to find any mainstream electronics retailer selling more than one or two token models. $99 digital cameras from recognizable brands will become commonplace.

I went into Circuit City a few days ago and they had two film cameras for sale. Two. While you can still buy film disposables pretty easily, especially in drug stores, nice 35mm film cameras are becoming increasingly scarce. And frankly, I'm pretty happy about that. +1

4) Nintendo tops Sony and Microsoft as gaming overlord Not a big leap here, but Nintendo, through its Wii and DS lines, will lead all brands in game unit sales in 2007. Sony will retain the crown of technological leader (and work though its Blu-Ray production issues), and Microsoft will continue to play the spoiler in the industry.

While Sony didn't perform as well as I expected, it's quite clear that Nintendo ended 2007 as the undisputed king of gaming. The Nintendo DS has sold more units than even the ubiquitous PS2, and the Wii nearly outsold the other two third-generation consoles (Xbox 360 and PS3) combined (at least here in the US). And that's despite a price drop for the PS3 and massive shortages of the Wii around the holidays. 2008 should be a banner year for Nintendo owners. +1

5) TiVo is acquired If this prediction was good enough to be wrong in 2006, then it's good enough for 2007 as well.

OK...not. TiVo actually strengthened their foothold a bit in 2007 and, with the impending confusion around the digital conversion in early 2009, 2008 should be an interesting year for the A/V component industry. -1

6) Google launches the GooglePhone Google, in partnership with some handheld maker and/or carrier, will launch a branded QWERTY smartphone that natively runs its main offerings (e.g., Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Talk, etc.). Maybe I'm predicting this purely out of desire -- I so want such a device -- but I do think it will happen eventually.

It happened! Well, sort of. Google launched Android, its Linux-based entry into the phone handset operating system space. Actual devices are expected for the second half of 2008, so we'll see if that actually happens. ~1

7) eBay sells Skype You heard it here first. Or maybe you didn't. Either way, this is a long-shot prediction, but I think Meg Whitman is smart enough to realize that Skype is worth more to eBay when it's owned by somebody else.

Nope. I still think Skype and eBay is a bad combination, and it's especially bad for shareholder value. -1

8) Palm brings Jeff Hawkins back to reinvent Treo line The current Treo line is getting a bit long in the tooth (not to mention the now-ancient Palm OS, which Palm just repurchased the permanent rights to) and its sales are likely getting pinched by slimmer, more aesthetically appealing (while not as functional, but a lot of people by phones based on looks...kind of like how they pick boy/girlfriends in college) offerings from Motorola and others. So, since Palm doesn't seem capable of designing anything anyone wants to buy on its own, the company will announce that Jeff Hawkins is coming back to help lead the development of the next-generation Treo. And many will ask, "What took you so long?"

Oh, my...how close I was to getting this right. Jeff Hawkins did indeed re-emerge as a chief product designer with Palm, but not on the Treo line. Rather, he played his hand with the ill-fated Palm Foleo. Too bad that effort was essentially wasted. I hope they're putting his talents to good use on an actual smartphone now. ~1

9) HD-DVD and Blu-Ray persist; nobody cares More devices will be available at cheaper prices, but sales of both players and media will continue to be tepid. Not only is renting becoming the dominant mode of DVD acquisition, but the current quality of standard dual-layer DVDs is perfectly adequate for 99% of the population. Maybe in a few years, the proliferating 1080p sets will drive people to want high-def movies, but it won't be as rapid an adoption rate as the original DVD was.

Adoption of both BD and HD formats was faster than I expected, but it's still woefully low. My claim that 2007 wouldn't see a winner was dead on; in fact, even I'm surprised at how little the battle has favored one over the other; maybe 2008 will see a major shift in the balance of power. Regardless, SD DVD sales are still much higher than both HD formats combined, suggesting that general apathy towards the new formats continues to drive consumer purchasing. +1

10) Robots become sentient, destroy all of humanity On a related note, iRobot's stock price will double in 2007 as a result of strong sales and the announcement that a first-gen AI will take over as President and CEO.

Not quite...but a horde of Taser-equipped Trackbots marshaled by Asimos riding giant Pleos would kick total ass...until their batteries ran out. -1

So, total score for my 2007 predictions was FIVE correct, TWO somewhat on-target, and THREE not correct at all, which is a tad better than last year.

Stay tuned for my predictions for 2008...

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Good job, Mr. Nostradamus.