A Really Long Post of My Predictions for 2010

There is something inexorable about an idea whose time has come.  There are some ideas that take a very long way around, getting to acceptance.  But the march of technology has brought along with it a speeding up of history – changes that used to take hundreds of years are now occurring with greater rapidity.  There was a time in European history when the Catholic Church reigned supreme.  This reign brought forth the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and other shows of power.  Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Church in 1517 in protest against the sale of papal indulgences, an act that, owing to the recent invention of the printing press, was spread throughout Germany in a matter of weeks, and that sparked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  The church and the heads of European state had so much to gain by the status quo (except for Henry VIII), however, that this idea whose time had come was still being fought over at least until the end of the 30 Years’ War in 1648.  End of history lesson. The point is, that I think that 2010 will be the pivotal year when Old Media, or what’s left of it, will stop fighting the idea whose time has come , the idea that started 10 years ago with the advent of Napster, and hopefully embrace it. I believe that this is the year when the two disparate streams of thought  – “information needs to be free” and “we need to make money” – finally begin to make some sort of peace.   And pay-walls will start to rise.

So, herewith, my predictions for 2010

To start off, as old media shrinks, there will be less jobs. But there is now, and will increasingly be, a need for content.  The more technology proliferates, the more time people spend watching and/or reading on more devices, the more content there will need to be.  For editors, journalists, people coming from both audio and visual media, this will mean more entrepreneurial, project based careers.  Doing many jobs instead of one will become more of a norm. There will be a mushrooming of little start-ups in all forms of media.

In a general way, the cloud will really take off, and maybe not Google Wave itself, but something like it will make online collaboration easier and more prevalent. Networks will start getting backed up as more bandwidth gets used, and ISPs will use this as a protest against the new net neutrality laws.

Social Media and Marketing – Facebook will continue to grow, as the aging population gets into it, and changes its nature.  There will still be plenty of posts of the “I just ate peanut butter for lunch” sort, to be sure.  Marketers will get the hang of it, and come to understand that it’s not just enough to be there, and that you can’t create or predict viralness.  There will still be a lot of hit and miss.  But friend recommendations for products will be a big growth factor, and may come, eventually, to supersede the recommendations of experts.  The line between advertising and recommendation will get blurrier as marketers figure out how to use this recommendation factor. Facebook itself will continue to play with the privacy of its constituents in an effort to sell advertising, and generate a stream of income.

Twitter will at long last come up with a business model, and I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that they will the model they devise will have a lot to do with selling to enterprise.

Mobile – The new era that was ushered in last year with the iPhone 3GS will become less of a novelty and more of a norm.  As smartphones get smarter, screens get larger, and the open development platform breeds more innovation, marketers will figure out that the location connection is golden.  And again, this year was the year of experimentation; next year, it will solidify.  Your phone, which knows where you are, will be able to point you to all sorts of goods and services that you might want.  Which may make us want to turn off our phones and be left alone for a while.

Google this week announced that it will have a new phone coming out in the new year.  Not a game changer, except for the fact that the search company is getting into hardware.  There’s nothing spectacular about the hardware, though.   But it will arrive locked, and provider-neutral, meaning that you will be able to choose from a list of carriers. This is a total game changer and may break the lock that the phone companies have on what phones we buy once and for all. I’m guessing that it will be a hard sell for Google to get the telecoms to sign on for this (so far only T-Mobile is in), but again, it’s an idea whose time has come. As in the example I used above, I might liken the telecoms to the Catholic Church in the 15th Century, but I like Kara Swisher’s statement better :  That prospect is probably not so yummy to the telcos, because they still mostly operate like Soviet ministries, except they’re not nearly as flexible.

It will be like the original break-up of Ma Bell – once upon a time, we rented our phones from them and they provided the service. After the break up, they became a service provider, and we could buy the phones we chose.

So far, mobile as a content platform has been big in hype but low in actual usage.  That usage will continue to grow, as will mobile shopping, and mobile Internet search.

If you cre about such things, I think that the iPhone will overtake the Blackberry in 2010.

Finally, if you have a lot of time on your hands during the holidays, and you can’t think of anything better to do with it, you might take a look at Morgan Stanley’s three versions of their Mobile Internet Report.  The summary is 92 slides long, the presentation of its key themes is 659 slides long, and the actual report runs 424 pages in .pdf (which froze my computer every time I tried to get to it, so I can’t give you a link).  Frankly, I’m sorry Mary Meeker, but I did not have the wherewithal to get through any of it. Be my guest.


Newspapers, Magazines and Other Sources of the Written Word – What a long strange trip this year has been for anything written.  379 magazines folded this year, several newspapers died in their print editions, and the e-book was the one bright spot in the book world. 2010 will be the year of the pay-wall for major newspapers and magazines.  Any newspaper or magazine that still believes that the long lost ad revenue stream will somehow miraculously reappear needs to have its head examined.  Well, more likely, it will go out of business.  The Huffington Post may be able to make a profit from online advertising, but newspapers will never be able to sustain themselves and their big newsrooms with it.  The key is online, the key is collaboration with other news organizations, the key is figuring out what your core value is and selling it, the really big key is figuring out how you’re going to make people pay for something that they’ve been getting for nothing all along.  And that’s where collaboration will come in, just as magazines have recently begun to do – joining together to create their online kiosk. It will be particularly imperative for newspapers, when they finally decide once and for all to institute pay walls, to do them together.  The major papers may have to suck up the idea that they will lose some unique readers to places like CNN or other free sites, but I think that if they can decide what their core values are, and market that, eventually their online readership will stabilize, and the big question will become  – how do you keep your news relevant when the stories are all over the place?

I do want to share with you a fascinating piece that was in today’s Times Bits  blog – a visualization of the day of Michael Jackson’s death.  It shows Times readership both online and on mobile. You can see in the compressed-time video how right after TMZ released the news, there was a huge spike in readership.  The ebb and flow of it over the course of the day is mesmerizing.

And then there are books.  They certainly never had any problem getting people to pay for them, and their content is unique enough that it’s not going to show up everywhere.  I think that you already know my opinion of e-readers.  They all have their issues, but that’s to be expected since the format is in its infancy.  And I believe that the release of the Apple Tablet, which is now rumored to be happening sometime in the spring, is going to alter the landscape completely.


Visual Media – People are really attached to TV.  That is to say, they are attached to their TV sets – they really like watching stuff there.  It does not necessarily have to be broadcast programming.  In fact, the only people who care where content comes from is the content providers.  People don’t care whether a program is from a broadcast network or a cable network.  And they will continue to watch their TV sets and watch more stuff on those sets.  Boxee (cross-platform media software that allows the user to watch content from everywhere on your TV) is just starting out, but I think it will get a lot bigger. At the same time, the concept of watching TV everywhere, also just starting out, will take hold. (TV Everywhere will be paid for through cable subscription.) So, in 2010, the platforms will begin to become irrelevant.  It will just be visual content. Except for live events, as in sports, the time at which something is broadcast, already becoming irrelevant , will become moreso.

What will be the consequences of Comcast’s purchase of NBC?  That is, assuming that the government lets the deal go through?  It is likely that Comcast, notable for blocking, or trying to block, its users from downloading P2P content, will try to drive traffic to its own content sites.  And what of net neutrality then?  It will become a very hot issue.

Always a hot issue – money.  I think that 2010 will be the year that Hulu and YouTube start charging for certain content.  YouTube, while not giving up its status as the place to go for cute kitten videos, will try its hand against sites like Hulu and start to stream movies and other long-from content.  Netflix will get more stuff to stream, but there will be yet more contentiousness with the MPAA about what a consumer can see when.

Audio – Just a few words – Pandora.  MySpace Music. Vevo (for music video).  And maybe the RIAA will at last give up and stop suing its customers. There are people who will pay for music, and some who never will.  It will continue to be an issue, although even the big 4 music companies are going to start looking for revenue elsewhere; they are finally getting the message that their income will not come from CD sales.


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2 Responses to “A Really Long Post of My Predictions for 2010”

  1. adriennegans Says:

    Great, comprehensive article — thanks!

  2. When the World Goes Mobile « The Media Mash-Up Says:

    […] MorganStanley issued their projections on the growth of mobile (you can read all about it in my Really Long Post of Predictions for 2010) in which they said that mobile will overtake the desktop in five years.  A new study by Gartner […]

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