Each January, I have offered predictions for the upcoming year. This year, Alex and I put our heads together to come up with a single list of predictions. Having doubled the number of bloggers making predictions, we seem to have doubled the number of predictions, too. Each prediction is supported by at least one of us, except the predictions that turn out to be wrong, which must have slipped in by mistake.
And now, our predictions for 2006:
(1) DRM technology will still fail to prevent widespread infringement. In a related development, pigs will still fail to fly.
(2) The RIAA will quietly reduce the number of lawsuits it files against end users.
(3) Copyright owners, realizing that their legal victory over Grokster didn’t solve the P2P problem, will switch back to technical attacks on P2P systems.
(4) Watermarking-based DRM will make an abortive comeback, but will still be fundamentally infeasible.
(5) Frustrated with Apple’s market power, the music industry will try to cozy up to Microsoft. Afraid of Microsoft’s market power, the movie industry will try to cozy up to Washington.
(6) The Google Book Search case will settle. Months later, everybody will wonder what all the fuss was about.
(7) A major security and/or privacy vulnerability will be found in at least one more major DRM system.
(8) Copyright issues will still be stalemated in Congress.
(9) Arguments based on national competitiveness in technology will have increasing power in Washington policy debates.
(10) Planned incompatibility will join planned obsolescence in the lexicon of industry critics.
(11) There will be broad consensus on the the need for patent reform, but very little consensus on what reform means.
(12) Attention will shift back to the desktop security problem, and to the role of botnets as a tool of cybercrime.
(13) It will become trendy to say that the Internet is broken and needs to be redesigned. This meme will be especially popular with those recommending bad public policies.
(14) The walls of wireless providers’ “walled gardens” will get increasingly leaky. Providers will eye each other, wondering who will be the first to open their network.
(15) Push technology (remember PointCast and the Windows Active Desktop?) will return, this time with multimedia, and probably on portable devices. People won’t like it any better than they did before.
(16) Broadcasters will move toward Internet simulcasting of free TV channels. Other efforts to distribute authorized video over the net will disappoint.
(17) HD-DVD and Blu-ray, touted as the second coming of the DVD, will look increasingly like the second coming of the Laserdisc.
(18) “Digital home” products will founder because companies aren’t willing to give customers what they really want, or don’t know what customers really want.
(19) A name-brand database vendor will go bust, unable to compete against open source.
(20) Two more significant desktop apps will move to an Ajax/server-based design (as email did in moving toward Gmail). Office will not be one of them.
(21) Technologies that frustrate discrimination between different types of network traffic will grow in popularity, backed partly by application service providers like Google and Yahoo.
(22) Social networking services will morph into something actually useful.
(23) There will be a felony conviction in the U.S. for a crime committed entirely in a virtual world.