In October 2013 I made 12 anti-predictions about what wouldn’t happen in 2014.  What did or did not happen?  Let’s see.

(1) No big mobile payments solution.

Right.  Apple has tried to solve this problem with Apple Pay, but this is still rolling out and has hit some bumps with Rite Aid and CVS disabling Apple Pay from working in their stores.  Whether these are minor setbacks or indications of a patchwork payment system emerging is unclear now.

(2) No carrier consolidation.

Right.  Sprint wanted to buy T-Mobile, and still would like to.  AT&T also wanted to take over T-Mobile, but the Obama Justice Department torpedoed that merger (a bad decision in my judgement).  Right now the landscape is frozen waiting for a Republican President in 2016 who will be hands off and therefore merger friendly.

(3) No iOS smartphone marketshare gain.

Right.  As the smartphone OS marketshare table at this link shows, Apple is now at about 12% smartphone marketshare.  The lack of a big screen really hurt the iPhone and let Samsung grow huge by filling that market gap.  The question now is whether iOS can hang on to even a 12% marketshare.  There is a school of thought that Windows Phone marketshare growth will come at Apple’s expense disproportionately and I tend to agree with this analysis.  Google’s cloud services are so seductive it’s hard to switch away from Android where you have the best Google experience, but you might ditch Apple since you’re only invested in an iPhone or iPad device.

(4) No big HTML5 adoption.

Right.  Mozilla is trying to pivot from making the most open web browser to making the most open smartphone operating system.  Considering the vast difference between those two tasks, Mozilla is actually making decent progress with its Flame smartphone for $170.  However there’s also a vast difference with creating something technically and getting a large segment of the market to adopt it.  Just ask Microsoft.

(5) No big new social network to rival Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

Right.  The big boys have gotten bigger, Snapchat is still playing hard-to-get and may get a comeuppance if the text messaging bubble pops.  Text messaging apps have been dis-intermediating carriers, who charge for text messages while the apps generally don’t.  Facebook is solidifying its position as the text messaging leader with the $19 billion buyout of WhatsApp and its own Messenger app.  Facebook text messaging now reaches over A BILLION users.

Ello is the new social network to watch, seeing a niche in an ad-free version of Facebook.  Facebook is now very polluted with ads, but it is also polluted with all the status updates we want to see too.  How Ello will make money without ads IF it gets traction is still unanswered.

(6) No let-up in technology patent lawsuits.

Right.  Nothing but good news for lawyers and bad news here for you and me.

(7) No Amazon or Google bricks and mortar stores.

Right.  There are rumors of bricks and mortar stores for both tech giants, but none as of yet.

(8) No Yahoo big win.

Right.  The only thing approaching a big win was Yahoo buying out Tumblr for $1.1 billion, but that’s still shoring up the weaknesses Yahoo has more than winning in the market.  CEO Marissa Mayer has been taking a very Google-like approach of buying small fries for engineering talent and polishing up some existing assets like Flickr.  Investors want to know how she will spend the $9 billion in cash from the Alibaba IPO (which Yahoo had a big ownership stake in).   The word was to return $5 billion in either stock buybacks or outright dividends.  That still leaves a pile to spend.  I see Mayer swinging for the fences and wanting to try something big, but there was no big win in the 2014 acquisitions.  Yahoo is still treading water in the new mobile world.

(9) No 5G technology in sight.

Right.  The Artemis pWave antenna is interesting, but not available yet and the increasing ubiquity of WiFi begs for some innovation to speed up all our downloads.

(10) No smartphone from Amazon.

Wrong.  Amazon is still experimenting and its Fire smartphone was something I did not see.  It’s not faring well in the market now, but I expect Amazon will stick with it a few years so we’ll be checking in on new versions of it for some time to come.

(11) No buyout for Foursquare.

Right.  No one has really figured out how to handle the social aspect of location.  There has been Loopt and Gowalla, both bought out and engineering talent repurposed to other tasks, so the question is if Foursquare was heading down the same dead-end road.

Foursquare must know its just burning venture capital cash with that strategy and it spun out the check-in functionality to an app named Swarm.  Foursquare itself is trying to use its database to become another version of Yelp, to have user ratings on places of interest, presumably with ads.

Foursquare is looking like one company where venture capitalists will take it on the chin and lose the bulk of their investment.  I just don’t see a big player buying them out.  The feeling is that Foursquare and its game mechanics for location announcements (mayorships of venues) was just a fad.  There still some unsolved business out there for location smartphone use, but Foursquare like Loopt and Gowalla before them, isn’t finding it.

(12) No new chairman for Microsoft.

Wrong.  Bill Gates did step aside, at least a small step aside.  Microsoft got a new CEO which was widely predicted given their late migration to a mobile strategy and actually the mobile traction Microsoft does have is due to buying out the Nokia phone division which was the brainchild of former CEO Steve Ballmer.

Of course Chairmen of the Board don’t matter.  Their new CEO Satya Nadella came from Microsoft’s own cloud services which indicates the direction Microsoft sees things going and probably the emphasis for their company going forward.

So the total was 10 rights and 2 wrongs or an 83% correct anti-prediction score.  If only my own personal investing was so good.

Check in to PDXmobile soon for next year’s anti-predictions.


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