Happy 5768 everyone!
Time for some predictions.
- Apple bites into PC pie. Apple Computer (remember them?) will attain at least 30% PC market share by 5772.
Probability: 40% ; Willing to stake: $Y20
On the front lines, silver Powerbooks are infiltrating in droves. At techie conventions and computer science conferences, penetration has gone from almost zero to something approaching 1/3 by anecdotal evidence. Wandering about these venues, it’s not terribly uncommon to see a table of three or four who apparently all agree to think different. At Yahoo!, more and more of Jobs’s ministers are simply preaching to the converted. In our Yahoo! Research New York office, for example, laps are topped at least two to one with half-eaten half-glowing apples. Even tech celeb Marc Andreessen has returned to the fold.
But can the Apple bug jump from geeks to grandmas? (Well, my daughters’ grandma is already infected.) I’m guessing so. After all, these same alphadopters led the way to mp3s, Google, Wikipedia, Slashdot, blogs, Firefox, Digg, and Homestar Runner, unlocking remarkable truths along the way like “web search can be monetized”, “Really Simple trumps Really Smart”, and “give up now, Friendster has already won”. (Oops.)
Why is there an Apple renaissance on the desktop? A big reason is that the OS’s natural monopoly is not so natural anymore. Today, the browser is the most important piece of software on your computer, and a viable cross-platform browser (Firefox) exists that almost every web site designs to. A second reason: it turns out that Intel chips are faster and better than PowerPC chips after all, despite decades of vehement Apple fanboy arguments to the contrary. Third, Apple’s built-in iLife software suite really is astonishingly useful and well designed and speaks to the new killer apps of the desktop: pictures, music, video, web, and email. A final reason is, well, Apple is cool, and technology is at least as much about fashion as function, or at least more than geeks would like to admit.
(Side note: My take on Apple’s fumbled iPhone price cut: I believe that Apple reacted in fear of the looming gPhone. However, if history is a guide, that fear may be an exaggerated fear of the unknown.)
- Google eats its own dog food. Google buys an advertisement by the end of 5768.
Probability: 60% ; Willing to stake: $Y20
Google is the king of selling advertisements. So they must believe that advertising is effective, right? Then why doesn’t Google advertise for itself? (I’m not counting recruiting ads.) I’m guessing the reason is that they don’t have to. As a media darling, they get more than enough free press to catalyze their already monstrous word of mouth. I expect that as the glow wears off, as some of the not not evil jabs — deserved or not — start to stick, and as they settle into Big Company mode, you will start to see Google spots on TV and elsewhere.
2007/09/17 Update: Sean McNee noticed that Google is advertising Google Apps to enterprise customers on VentureBeat and the Seattle Times [example ad image]. As a result, let me update my prediction to “Google buys a TV ad for Google.com aimed at mass consumers”.
2010 Update: I was right, just 1.5 years too early. In other words, I was wrong.