Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The results of my 2012 predictions - 3 wrong, 8 right

A bit late, but time to review what has happened with my 2012 predictions. Since the score is clearly favorable to me, please allow me the time to indulge in some self congratulation, and offer also my services as a technology trend predictor at least better than big name market analysis firms. No, not really. But nonetheless having scored so high deserves some self appraisal, at least.

The bad

Windows becoming legacy. I was wrong on this one, but only on the timing. Microsoft's latest attempt to revive the franchise is flopping on the market, to the tune of people paying for getting Windows 8 removed from computers and replaced by Windows 7. Perhaps Redmond can reverse the trend over time, perhaps Windows 9 will be the one correcting the trend. But they have already wasted a lot of credibility, and as time passes it is becoming clear that many pillars of the Windows revenue model are not sustainable in the future.

  • Selling new hardware with the OS already installed worked well for the last twenty years, but the fusion of the mobile and desktops, together with Apple and Chromebooks are already eroding that to a point where hardware manufacturers are starting to have the dominant position in the negotiation.
  • The link between the home and business market is broken. Ten years ago people were buying computers essentially with the same architecture and components for both places, except perhaps with richer multimedia capabilities at home. Nowadays people are buying tablets for home use, and use smartphones as complete replacements of things done in the past with desktops and laptops.
  • On the server side, the open source alternatives gain credibility and volume. Amazon EC is a key example where Windows Server, however good it is, it is being sidetracked on the battle for the bottom of the margin pool.

JVM based languages. I was plain wrong on this one. I thought that the start of Java's decline would give way to JVM based alternatives, but those alternatives, while not dead, have not flourished. Rails keeps growing, PHP keeps growing and all kind of JavaScript client and server based technologies are starting to gain followers.

As for compuer security... well, the shakeup in the industry has not happened. Yet. I still think that the most of the enterprise level approach to security is plain wrong, focused more on "checklist" security than on actual reflection of the dangers and implications of their actions. But seems that no one has started to notice except me. Time will tell. In the end, I think this one was more of a personal desire than a prediction in itself.

The good 

Mayan prophecy. Hey, this one was easy. Besides, if it were true, I won't have to acknowledge the mistake on a predictions result post.

Javascript. Flash is now irrelevant. Internet connected devices with either no Flash support at all or weak Flash support have massively outnumbered the Flash enabled devices. jQuery and similar technologies now provide almost the same user experience. Yes, there are still some pockets of Flash around, notably games and the VMWare console client, but Flash no longer is the solution that can be used for everything.

NoSQL. I don't have hard data to prove it, but some evidence -admittedly a bit anecdotal- from its most visible representative, MongoDB, strongly suggest that the strengths and weaknesses of each NoSQL and SQL are now better understood. NoSQL is no longer the solution for all the problems, but a tool that, as any other, has to be applied when it is most convenient.

Java. I have to confess that I did not expected Java to decline so quickly, but as I said a year ago, Oracle had to change a lot to avoid that, and it has not. The latest batches of security vulnerabilities (plus Oracle's late, incomplete and plain wrong reaction) have finally nailed the coffin for Java in the browser, no chances of going back. A pity, now that we have Minecraft. On the server side, the innovation rate in Java is stagnated and the previously lightweight and powerful framework alternatives are now seen as bloated and complex as their standards derived by committee brethren.

Apple. Both on the tablet and mobile fronts. Android based alternatives already outnumber Apple's products in volume, if not in revenue. And Apple still continues to be one of the best functioning marketing and money making machines on the planet.

MySQL. This one really is tied down again to Oracle's attitude. But it has happened, both for the benefit of Postgres and the many MySQL forks (MariaDB, Percona, etc) that keep in their core what made MySQL so successful.

Postgres. In retrospect, that was easy to guess, given the consistent series of high quality updates received in the last few years and the void left by Oracle's bad handling of MySQL and the increasingly greedy SQL Server licensing terms.

Windows Phone. Again, an easy one. A pity, because more competition is always good. As with Winodws 8, it remains to be seen if Microsoft can -or want to- rescue this product from oblivion.

Will there be any 2013 predictions now that we're in February?

On reflection, some of these predictions were quite easy to formulate, if somehow against what the general consensus was at the time. That's why there is likely not going to be 2013 predictions. I still firmly think that Windows will go niche. That is happening today, but we have not yet reached the "Flash is no longer relevant" tipping point. You'll know that we've arrived there when all the big name technologists start saying that they were seeing it coming for years. But they have not started saying that. At least yet.

Anyway, this prediction exercise left my psychic powers exhausted. Which is to say, I don't have that many ideas of how the technology landscape will change during 2013. So as of today, the only prediction I can reliably make is that there won't be 2013 predictions.

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