Top Ten Tech Trends

Keylist

The Fortune article is right here. Quite frankly, I think the ten trends are a crock - follow them, lose your shirt. For the record, here are the trends:

1. The e-budget crunch: Households aren't willing to shell out for the next round of upgrades to PCs and other devices.

2. Voice as the killer app: Moving voice transmissions to broadband enables audio chat, cheap phone calls and more.

3. Reaching for ROI: Companies that install new software want a financial payoff immediately, not in 10 years.

4. So long, privacy: Being tracked while Web-surfing may be the price of netizenship in the 21st century.

5. Ethernet: The decades-old technology is still the fastest way to send data, and more corporations are catching on.

6. EBay, eBay, eBay: The online flea-market is getting new respect from corporations, and its profits keep growing.

7. Store it: Companies can delay spending on network upgrades, but they'll always need more data storage space.

8. Wireless e-mail: Sending text messages or actual e-mail messages via mobile phones is becoming a way of life.

9. Will content survive? Yes, but only when it's supported by other for-pay services -- just like old-fashioned television.

10. PCs are here to stay: But only as a front for a network

(This summary by Wendy Cholbi, The Next Big Thing)

OK, I said Fortune's predictions are a crock. Here's why:

1. The e-budget crunch: Households aren't willing to shell out for the next round of upgrades to PCs and other devices.

OK, they are basing this prediction on the fact that the economy is in a slump, resulting in fewer purchases. True, to that point. But from an investment perspective we are more interested in how tech purchases will compare to other types of purchases. So, supposing somebody has a G to drop: will they buy a wireless PDA with toys, or will they instead invest in that colonial furniture? Yeah. You and I know the money is still going to tech toys - maybe not as much money, but it's not like the sector is going to get clobbered by another sector.

2. Voice as the killer app: Moving voice transmissions to broadband enables audio chat, cheap phone calls and more.

I can see an upside - a slow upside - for voice recognition technologies. But Fortune is talking about voice chat rooms and net based long distance - services for which customers will be expected to pay by the minute. Got news for you. Ain't gonna happen: people aren't going to pay by the minute (or even by the hour) to chat over the net.

3. Reaching for ROI: Companies that install new software want a financial payoff immediately, not in 10 years.

By "immediately" Fortune means "within 12 months". Sure, companies which can deliver the goods will do well. Companies which cannot will crash and burn. Unfortunately, some companies are promising to deliver the goods - hence getting a "buy" recommendation from Fortune - but without realizing that there is a major human element to converting to online transactions, will fail to meet their short term ROI, and hence will crash and burn. Along with their investors.

4. So long, privacy: Being tracked while Web-surfing may be the price of netizenship in the 21st century.

I have quoted a number of studies in In the Ether which show (a) consumers want privacy, and (b) they are getting mad at companies which fail to preserve it. By what leap of logic does Fortune now conclude that these very same companies will be rewarded? Answer? They won't. Oh yeah, and I will never buy anything from Network Associates beacause of their constant and pesetring emails.

5. Ethernet: The decades-old technology is still the fastest way to send data, and more corporations are catching on.

Gig ethernet is cool, wireless ethernet with a gig backbone is cooler. Fortune is pointing investors to companies who still think ethernets should be constructed out of wires. Poor investors.

6. EBay, eBay, eBay: The online flea-market is getting new respect from corporations, and its profits keep growing.

Ebay is a middle-man. The net hates middlemen. EBay's recent acquisitions - especially the auction houses - are bleeding. Ebay is going down. By contrast, Amazon - which rated a "sell" - is actually negotiating deals directly with authors and readers. Watch for Amazon's ebook service this year. Watch Amazon hit the black ink.

7. Store it: Companies can delay spending on network upgrades, but they'll always need more data storage space.

Yawn. At $10 a gig, nobody's getting rich.

8. Wireless e-mail: Sending text messages or actual e-mail messages via mobile phones is becoming a way of life.

Wireless email is centralized, censored and cumbersome. Wireless messaging is peer-to-peer, uncensored, and easy. Fortune probably doesn't know the difference. Poor investors, who really ought to know.

9. Will content survive? Yes, but only when it's supported by other for-pay services -- just like old-fashioned television.

Hey, look, I was around then and old fashioned television was free. Even today, after a flat rate for cable, it is still mostly free. People are used to free content, or at bthe very least, flat rate content. Remember, people don't think of the net as a big magazine (Fortune does, but Fortune is a magazine). People think of it like TV - it looks so much like TV. And TV is free. Bye bye fee-for-content services. Hello advertising supported view-on-demand services and things like TiVO.

Fortune is also predicting the 'three channel internet' here, a web dominated, indeed owned, by Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL. Not gonna happen: there are too many alternate channels - they may control the user's web interface, but they won't control their email. watch for content syndication to take the Great Leap Forward.

10. PCs are here to stay: But only as a front for a network

We're not ready for networked toasters; we are ready for cheap and portable laptops and PDAs.

... And the Ones they Missed

I also think that Fortune missed some of the more important tech trends. For example: not a word in the article about E-Learning, which is nonetheless touted to be one of the better investments for 2001.


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