Or at least the remaining 97.5% of it. Meant to get these posted a few days ago, but better late than never. So after last year's 0.600, onward to the 6th round of fearless predictions for the year ahead:
1) Second Life will return to steady growth and have a shockingly good 2009
By shockingly good, let's say 50% growth in concurrency and James' measure of active users. Why do I expect SL to rock 2009? A few reasons. First, world-wide recession makes SL more valuable as a source of income, cost effective collaboration tool, substitute for expensive travel, and educational resource. Second, the same recession -- combined with Lively's demise -- means competition will remain non-existent. Third, Linden has had time to adapt to the many organizational changes 2008 brought.
2) Another Republican Senator leaves his party to become an independent, largely caucusing with Senate Democrats.
As the Republic party tries to differentiate and reinvent itself in 2009, I see some moderate Republicans facing very interesting decisions about their political futures.
3) Microsoft gets its shit together
Let's make a few things clear. I am an exclusively a Mac household, EMI Digital purchased Macs, I helped make Second Life cross platform, and the only Microsoft product I use with any regularity is MS Office for OS X. However, I have never visited a large corporation with such a high percentage of brilliant, motivated, and thoughtful employees as Microsoft, Microsoft Research, and Microsoft Games. The current downturn is a perfect chance for Microsoft to make some hard decisions about its future, to refine its engineering team, and to finally shake up it's traditional internal divisions. Moreover, with MS stock at a 35% discount, MS could make interesting acquisitions leveraging the fact that the deal will ultimate be worth quite a bit more as the stock market recovers. Obviously, Google, IBM, Intel, et al could also do this, but I think MS is going to be the first of the tech giants to figure this out.
4) Across the industry, 2009 global recorded music sales contract by low single digit percentages, pulled down by double digit physical sales drops but buoyed by large digital gains.
Pretty self explanatory.
5) Linden Lab gets acquired
For the earliest employees, this is year 10 at Linden Lab. For most of the investors, this is year 8. With capital markets in the toilet, even with the great performance I expect out of Second Life this year, an IPO is impossible. Thus, the pressure of no liquidity -- from investors, from employees trapped by AMT, and from the increasing need to be able to diversify the Second Life product offering to begin [edit: s/being/begin/] truly rebuilding the code base -- is going to mount, with an acquisition the logical way out. Per the MS discussion, an acquisition this year may be for fewer absolute dollars, but in the long run the deal would be more valuable as markets recover.
6) Fiber-to-the-home becomes part of the economic stimulus/economic recovery package
If the United States is really going to focus on national competitiveness, innovation, education, and infrastructure, nothing would provide as cost effective a change as a national FTTH project, bringing truly high speed network connections to at least 90% of US households.
7) New models for innovation, entrepreneurship, and education emerge during the downturn
As I wrote earlier this year, there is a sweet spot at the intersection of traditional venture funding, Y Combinator-style micro funding, and education. Especially in 2009, with a national focus on competitiveness, there is an opportunity to try this. More in another post.
8) Israel learns that there must be a balance between legitimate national security concerns and its moral responsibilities to those it governs
Why is the Daily Show the only balanced coverage of this?
9) Something completely new in the web, social space will successfully launch in 2009
By success, I mean more than 100,000 customers and a real business model. By new, I mean not just virtual worlds in a browser, but something that mixes the web, social, media, and fun together in new ways.
10) I will travel less in 2009 than I did in 2008.
In 2008, I flew 180,000 miles and 102 segments on United. Admittedly, nothing in the Joi or Larry's worlds, but too much for me.
So there you. Share your predictions!