June 13, 2024

2008 Predictions Scorecard

As usual, we’ll kick off the new year by reviewing the predictions we made for the previous year. Here now, our 2008 predictions, in italics, with hindsight in ordinary type.

(1) DRM technology will still fail to prevent widespread infringement. In a related development, pigs will still fail to fly.

We predict this every year, and it’s always right. This prediction is so obvious that it’s almost unfair to count it. Verdict: right.

(2) Copyright issues will still be gridlocked in Congress.

We could predict this every year, and it would almost always be right. History teaches that it usually takes a long time to build consensus for any copyright changes. Verdict: right.

(3) No patent reform bill will be passed. Baby steps toward a deal between the infotech and biotech industries won’t lead anywhere.

Verdict: right.

(4) DRM-free sales will become standard in the music business. The movie studios will flirt with the idea of DRM-free sales but won’t take the plunge, yet.

This was basically right. DRM-free music sales are much more common than before. Whether they’re “standard” is a matter for debate. The movie studios haven’t followed the record industry, yet. Verdict: mostly right.

(5) The 2008 elections will not see an e-voting meltdown of Florida 2000 proportions, but a bevy of smaller problems will be reported, further fueling the trend toward reform.

As predicted, there was no meltdown but we did see a bevy of smaller problems. Whether this fueled the trend toward reform is debatable. The problems that did occur tended to be ignored because the presidential election wasn’t close. Verdict: mostly right.

(6) E-voting lawsuits will abound, with voters suing officials, officials suing other officials, and officials suing vendors (or vice versa).

There were some lawsuits, but they didn’t “abound”. Verdict: mostly wrong.

(7) Second Life will jump the shark and the cool kids will start moving elsewhere; but virtual worlds generally will lumber on.

Second Life seems to have lost its cool factor, but then so have virtual worlds generally. Still, they’re lumbering on. Verdict: mostly right.

(8) MySpace will begin its long decline, losing customers for the first time.

I haven’t seen data to confirm or refute this one. (Here’s one source.) Comscore said that Facebook passed MySpace in user share, but that doesn’t imply that MySpace decreased. Verdict: unknown.

(9) The trend toward open cellular data networks will continue, but not as quickly as optimists had hoped.

This one is hard to call. The growth of Android and iPhone unlocking would seem to be steps toward open cellular data networks, but the movement has not been rapid. Verdict: mostly right.

(10) If a Democrat wins the White House, we’ll hear talk about reinvigorated antitrust enforcement in the tech industries. (But of course it will all be talk, as the new administration won’t take office until 2009.)

Verdict: right.

(11) A Facebook application will cause a big privacy to-do.

There were Facebook privacy issues, but mostly about non-application issues. Overall, interest in Facebook apps declined during the year. Verdict: mostly wrong.

(12) There will be calls for legislation to create a sort of Web 2.0 user’s bill of rights, giving users rights to access and extract information held by sites; but no action will be taken.

Verdict: right.

(13) An epidemic of news stories about teenage webcam exhibitionism will lead to calls for regulation.

Verdict: wrong.

(14) Somebody will get Skype or a similar VoIP client running on an Apple iPhone and it will, at least initially, operate over AT&T’s cellular phone network. AT&T and/or Apple will go out of their way to break this, either by filtering the network traffic or by locking down the iPhone.

Various VoIP clients did run on the iPhone. Apple said they would allow this over conventional WiFi networks but intended to prevent it on the cellular network, presumably by banning from the iPhone App Store any application that provided VoIP on the cell network. Verdict: right.

Our final scorecard: six right, four mostly right, two mostly wrong, one wrong, one unknown.

Stay tuned for our 2009 predictions.


  1. (3) Simpler to say that nothing actually happened. However the US economy is less significant on a worldwide perspective than this time last year so I’ll halfway claim that one.

    (5) I believe I was completely correct on Obama’s victory (at a time when everyone was saying that Hillary was the clear leader).

    (7) I beg to differ on Second-Life scorecard. British Labor just got there (admittedly lowering the overall coolness factor) so Second Life is more mainstream now and probably stronger than ever.


    From the news trend graph, Second Life seems to be regularly on top of competing related news items and possibly a slight trend on the increase.

    (8) I agree: verdict unknown. Facebook is not much more than a MySpace clone (with very minor tweaks) so what we can really say, is that this genre is getting more crowded.

    (9) From an Australian perspective, there are plenty of mobile data plans out there and yes we even have (highly expensive) iPhone plans too. The cellular data networks essentially just deliver IP data over a PPP link, the openness comes down to the device, not the network. Prices haven’t dropped much (which I predicted) and usage is certainly on the increase.

    (13) Looks like I got that one right too.

  2. ???,???,

  3. John Millington says

    “DRM-free sales will become standard in the music business.”

    In the music business, DRM-free sales have _always_ been standard. I’ve been buying CDs since 1988 and tape before that, and none of it was DRMed. Unlike the movie industry, the music industry only experimented/dabbled in DRM. What happened is that there was a fear that DRM might _become_ standard, but fortunately it didn’t.

  4. There were a couple of news stories headed in that direction, although I don’t think any regulation was sparked because of it…


  5. I should have added that prediction #8 doesn’t make sense. MySpace’s “customers” are advertisers; its product is its users. From what I can tell, it has probably lost users: most of my peers probably have MySpace pages active, but I don’t know anyone who has actually checked their account in the past year (this is certainly true for me). But even those who deactivate their profiles still have their data stored away in Uncle Rupert’s databases, ready to be sold to MySpace’s “customers”. So, depending on what you actually meant by this prediction, I’d say that MySpace has probably lost active users this year, but its inventory (present and past user data) will never decrease in size, and I have no idea whether it has lost customers (advertisers). And even if the first part of that assessment is false, MySpace has certainly lost many active users in the most valuable (to Rupert Murdoch and his customers) demographics, meaning that its success has diminished.

  6. Ed:

    You should have waited another hour or two before posting this; your predictions on online music and DRM got upgraded from “mostly right” to just plain “right” with Apple’s announcement today that they’re removing DRM from iTunes altogether.

    Well, as long as you’re willing to count January 6, 2009 as part of 2008…

  7. it’s interesting how all your verdicts are contentious to one person or the other. i myself am not sure about the bill-of-rights thing. who, exactly, is “calling for” this, and how come i’ve heard nothing about it until now? do random bloggers bloviating in a vacuum count? someone is calling for legislation to force all websites to provide API access to customer data, with a straight face?! 🙂

    btw, here is better data for myspace: from alexa. the graph is definitely downward, i’m surprised. also, i’m amused by the person who diagrees with the verdict that the election irregularities were not as bad as florida 2000. i guess i’m generally amused by people who seem to want to believe that our democracy/economy/society is irredeemably screwed.

  8. Fact-checker says


    ‘Second Life seems to have lost its cool factor, but then so have virtual worlds generally. Still, they’re lumbering on.’ Really? Says who?

    ‘Overall, interest in Facebook apps declined during the year.’ Huh? There seem to be more apps than ever. If anything there seemed to be exactly the opposite — an explosion of interest.

  9. I R A Darth Aggie says

    The 2008 elections will not see an e-voting meltdown of Florida 2000 proportions

    Oh, I dunno. Minnesota, 2008, US Senate race.

    • Minnesota uses mark + scan, our problems are not really related to e-voting. The issues under contention are all relatively small and traditional (lost ballots, possible double-counting, absentee procedures) and the manual recount procedure worked reasonably well.

      It’s not like several thousand people anomalously voting for Pat Buchanan, or inconsistent standards for what constitutes a “punch” for those lousy cards, or software errors causing bad totals.

  10. “The problems that did occur tended to be ignored because the presidential election wasn’t close.”

    So, you’re saying that to hijack an election safely, you need lots of small attacks that cause the total vote to not be close. I guess that means you think not-close elections are more likely to have been manipulated?