Sunday, January 01, 2006

Predictions for 2006

As the new year starts, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon of "Predictions for 2006". In no particular order:

Wireless Internet will move mainstream. The Wild Wild Web will move onto the screens of mobile phones as it has already done with PCs. As the Wild Web takes over the screens of the mobile users the precious walled gardens of operators will die. The manicured lawns and delicate pansies of the flower beds succumb to the voracious growth of the Wild Web. This will open up hundreds of new opportunities and services to mobile users. It will further erode the boundaries between wired and wireless spheres.

The Attention Wars will begin in earnest. All though the first shots where fired in 2005, full scale battles will begin in 2006.

Web service operations will suffer. Web Service companies will face outages and problematic quality of service through out 2006 as these companies learn the hard way about operations. While individual companies will improve overall there isn't going to be drastic improvement in the quality of service of web services. It is likely that web service operations will see a increase in the use of Big Iron to do the heavy lifting and mission critical tasks leaving the server farms to serve pages.

Usability will become a competitive differentiator for services and applications. Apple has demonstrated (again) the power of usability. Other companies are going to seek to harness that power in differentiating their service or application in the crowded marketplace of the Internet. Getting the mix between features and usability right is going to give a company a strong competitive advantage. An obvious example is the metaphoric revolution that Office 12 is going to usher in.

Digital home entertainment will enter new phase. The roll out of Media Centres will pit companies molded and shaped by relentless competition against oligarchs shaped by monopoly agreements and captive audiences. Competition for the attention of audiences will become far more intense as Internet video moves from being an indirect threat to a direct threat to broadcasters.

Identity 2.0 will become the catch cry of 2006. The possibilities opened by what has been termed Identity 2.0 from attributing comments and posts across the blogsphere to banking to fighting fraud and e-crime will bring this squarely into the centre of attention of the Wild Web. But like its counterpart in the offline world, identity 2.0 is only going to be as strong as its weakest link. Which is usually the process and documentation for obtaining an id card. This is the problem of a "real id" obtained using fraudulent means. For example using someone else's birth certificate to get a driving license. This will need to be addressed as Identity 2.0 is rolled out across the web.

Broadband TV will continue to gain momentum at the expense of the telco's TV offerings. Broadband TV will continue to grow as experimental broadcasters, non-traditional broadcasters and content owners push more and more video to the consumer through the Internet. The lower cost broadband TV solutions will erode the economic viability of the telco's TV offerings. Something that many telcos seem aware of given their recent rantings on two tier Internet. Two tier Internet will have a much greater effect on Broadband TV than VoIP or Web Services.

Uplink speeds will become a competitive point as ISPs struggle for differentiation in the Speed Wars. As the download speeds escalate rapidly it will become harder and harder for ISPs to differentiate themselves on speed and for the smaller ISPs to remain in the game. At the same time the speed claims will face greater scrutinity from consumers and regulators. This will force ISPs to find alternative ways to differentiate themselves which they will do with uplink speeds. We won't see a sales pitch based on synchronous speeds but something like a 8-12 Mbps downlink with a 1-4 Mbps uplink.

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