Cringely’s 2005 Predictions

Robert Cringely has published his predictions for 2005. I thought I’d take each one and give you my opinion (just so a year from now we can see how wrong I was).

1) Microsoft’s anti-malware businesses. I talked about that here. I still haven’t tried it out, but I agree with Cringely. I just don’t see how this is going to make Microsoft look good, especially if they charge for the service. BTW: Microsoft’s Genuine Windows Extortion program (my name, not their’s) where they don’t give you updates unless you can prove that you bought Windows doesn’t look good either.

2) vs. Microsoft. I don’t know anything about this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Microsoft figured out a way to drag this out.

3) Apple to take some big risks. My gut tells me that Apple won’t sell their bare-bones system for as low as $250, but I agree that they should. The rumors say that the headless Mac will run about $500 which seems reasonable. I’m looking at building a PVR in 2005, and a Mac running MythTV would be sweet. I sure hope they make a grab for market share.

4) The RIAA will continue to sue customers. Yes, yes they will. Of course, that will drive file traders to use even more secure and private networks. These guys (the old guard) will never learn that people will pay for music if you sell it at a reasonable price and can compete on convenience.

5) WiMax gets hyped. I’m already seeing a healthy dose of skepticism with the WiMax coverage. If WiMax has the bandwidth and range that’s being talked about, then it really will be able to deliver real changes to the economy. Phone (VoIP), Internet access, games, and all kinds of media will feel the implications within a few years.

6) VoIP will shatter the telephone industry. Agreed. The prices are too good argue with. Not only that, but I think VoIP is going to seriously drive adoption of broadband. Cable companies are going to have to jump on the bandwagon, and eventually we’ll see TVoIP (but probably not in 2005).

7) Repurposing Linux-based consumer electronics devices. Yeah, but I don’t think it’ll be big news.

8) Desktop Linux will finally make some serious inroads. I don’t know what he means by serious, but I think desktop Linux will continue to grow. As good as Firefox is doing, Mozilla doesn’t have nearly the market share it deserves. It’ll be even harder to get people to switch operating systems. Hopefully Apple will make switching easier. It’s a lot easier to switch away from Windows if it has 70% of the market than if it has 96% of the market.

9) Innovative online video initiatives. A video version of podcasting will probably pop up. The big question is: will someone spend millions of dollars to make a show that’s designed primarily for Internet distribution? My guess is no, not until 2006.

10) Peoplesoft-Oracle merger. Cringely is probably right here. I don’t know enough about the market to say anything more.

11) Cisco will buy startup companies. Same as above. This is Cringely’s domain, not mine.

12) Sun will continue downward. My guess is that Sun will get desperate enough to make real changes. Sun needs to scale appropriately, and focus on what it does best. They’d probably be smart to jump on the Linux bandwagon and bring any Solaris tech that’s worth anything with them, but I doubt they will.

13) Intel. They’ve lost a lot of their luster to AMD, but I think they can regain control by choosing their battles wisely.

14) UltraWide Band networking and Power Line Networking will have to wait until 2006. I think we’ll start to see some big moves here, but it probably will take until 2006 before it’s common place.

15) Sony’s PS3 will be delayed. I’m clueless here. However it happens, I think Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo will all release their next console within a year of each other; probably within six months of each other. I think the big winner will be whoever maintains backwards compatibility. Of course I’m probably engaging in wishful thinking and betting on what should be true instead of what’s actually likely to be true.

One more prediction for the video game market: Microsoft is going to keep buying up studios. Sony is going to work out special deals with studios so that they get the games first. Nintendo will still compete with it’s suppliers. Who wins here? Not the consumers. It will make the industry ripe for change, but not in 2005.

So, that’s it. Probably none of this is shocking to anyone paying attention to these sorts of things. The funny thing is that there is plenty of room for shocking changes in 2005. Cheap digital video cameras will put movie making in the hands of the masses. Same goes for music and other media like photography, comics, literature, news, etc…) Ubiquitous, high-speed, wireless Internet access will be able to deliver it anywhere, anytime. The tricky part (and the real business opportunity) will be to figure out how to aggregate and filter it all. The solution will be both bottom-up (ratings by consumers), and top-down (authority of the gods of cool). New types of entertainment, like ARGs, will be able to explode.