Richard McManus and colleagues present a set of predictions for our industry in 2007. Great list. Here are ten of mine, in no particular order.
(1) Google will not be displaced by, or lose significant market share to, other search engines. People who try to understand Google in business terms are missing the point of Google's success, which is rooted in psychology and culture. Google has taken a probabilistic system, at which the human mind should naturally recoil, and painted it as a definitive source of authority. As I've said before, for me Chris Anderson's greatest contribution to the debate is not his Long Tail theory but his articulation of the nature of Google's success - Google's is perhaps the most important, successful and ultimately misleading piece of branding ever achieved.
(2) Widgetisation will indeed continue apace, and we will abandon the page view (Micropersuasion) towards the end of the year as meaningless. (I must confess that when I first saw Ivan Pope talk about Snipperoo I had no idea what he was on about, and as time goes on his idea looks more and more brilliant.)
(3) At least one country or territory (I won't guess which one) will see a mass adoption of the Fon (or equivalent) distributed wifi model, and all of the incumbent mobile telecoms providers in that territory will effectively fold. (Yes, they might reinvent themselves or be bought out or something, but their current business model and raison d'etre will be gone.) Much as social networking has transpired to be surprisingly unglobal - CyWorld wins South Korea, MySpace the US, Orkut Brazil, Bebo Ireland, Skyblogs France etc - the technology will tip somewhere and mobile connectivity will move from the centre to the edge, utterly displacing the business models of the current providers of mobile connectivity.
(HT: Shane Richmond for pointing out the Fon model.)
(4) Someone will crack the problem of inter-operable avatars, and produce an avatar or avatar protocol that is transferable between multiple virtual worlds.
(5) Someone else will launch a stock exchange for companies operating within virtual environments (which, alas, they won't be able to call VirtEx because there's already an exchange called that).
(6) Perhaps - and I'm not sure this will happen before 2008, but let's speculate - 2007 will see the launch of a persistent, virtual, locative gameworld that overlays the corporeal world and scales beyond anything we've seen so far from e.g. Second Life or World of Warcraft. Probably by Microsoft, but there's a slight chance of Google getting there first.
(7) A national newspaper, probably in the UK but possibly in Europe or Japan, will stop charging a cover price. The Sun is already heading towards a tactical free model in some areas; free commuter papers are growing everywhere; someone will decide that scaling up to capture share of ad revenue is more important than charging a cover price.
(8) MySpace will become a major source of media content, launching multiple vertical subsites and magazines (fashion, sports, current affairs, politics, autos) powered by the tagged posts of MySpace users, and some of those vertical sites will almost immediately move to dominate their category.
(9) Someone will concoct a nuisance lawsuit in an effort to shut down Craigslist because, frankly, their not-in-it-for-the-money model scares the living hell out of people who are just in it for the money. Look at the New York Times investors trying to fight the Sulzbergers; look at the Wall Street reaction to Jim Buckmaster's honest statement (Forbes) that maximising revenues is not part of the Craigslist plan. The guys who are in it for the money, and hate and fear anyone who's not, are going to come gunning in 2007.
(10) Microsoft will bite the bullet and buy Yahoo!, and probably AOL as well.