What to expect next year in the media & tech sector and other things...

1. Social Network will divide themselves like organic cells when they mature.
Tell me : who is interested in being part of a 100+million social network ? Really. Who want to confront his address book to Facebook and finding a horde of friends of friends who wants to be yours ? In 2008, segmentation will be the keyword for social network. At some point, it will re-create social classes, castes, etc.

2. News, information, will find new channels of distribution.
Like the social networks for instance. That will contribute to their value by increasing the "qualification" of a large part of the public, as the advertising world puts it. We (journalists) will be red quite often of Facebook and MySpace. The problem will be to cash-on this audience.

3. Mobile phone applications will thrive.
Boosted by the iPhone and the Android Platform (see Monday Note#14), 2008 will see the explosion or reliable applications that will change our use of the cellphone. The divide will appear between the basic applications (talk and sms) and broadband uses like in western countries. Research in Motion's Blackberry will remain ahead of the pack for a pure productivity oriented uses. Their software is great, and it is reliable as a Land Rover (but a Land has some look, I'm just begging them : please hire a good designer, yours look like refugees of the soviet era ; on the same stroke I'm begging Steve Jobs : buy this company, even at a market cap at $ 66bn and a P/E at 63, it's a bargain).

4. Rupert Murdoch will reinvent the Wall Street Journal.
In the past, he has shown he is not he kind of passive investor. He's driven, and he has an agenda. Part of it is to make the Journal more accessible. Right or wrong, WSJ.com will be free. The paper will become more tabloidish in the pursuit of news. White collar law-breaker, beware, you'll be exposed.

5. Business news will become more mainstream.
Thanks to new players, learning lessons from the large audience media, thanks to the convergence between pop culture and finance culture, thanks to the 30's generation for which economy (but not greed) is key.

6. Blog will decline.
Too much uninterested stuff, too much sterile prattling. A Darwinian selection will operate between blogs written by pros or half-pros, and the rest of the "noise".

7. Apple will come up with new new-things.
Definitely an Iphone2, and some kind of ultra-portable notebook. How it will look like ? Well, there is more than 200 new patents in the iPhone to capitalize on. Let's take a guess then : a expanded touch sensitive screen that will replace the mouse by the finger, with an iPhone like keyboard ; a 3G standard connection comparable to the Amazon Kindle for background download of numerous new stuff, flash memory allowing 8 hours battery life and no boot-up delay. All in a 20 x 15 x 1cm sleek aluminum and unscratchable plastic box that will synchronize with my main Mac once its just close to it, without hand, Ma !

8. The green frenzy will catch on the computer industry. In 2008, it will cost more in electricity to operate servers than to buy them. Green, opportunistic, ayatollahs won't ignore this. Pressure will intensify, business opportunities as well.

9. Google will continue its revolution of the computer industry.
With its $2bn a year investment in datacenters, it will own the "cloud", i.e. the hundreds of thousands of computers we are taping into, on a day to day basis. No one will be able to match
this power.

10. Corollary, Microsoft will take the role of the major opponent to Google.
Funnily enough, the memo it produced to counter the acquisition of DoubleClick, on the grounds of...antitrust provisions say a lot on its fair to fall behind.

11. Advertising will look for (and find) new sneaky ways, and will invent new metrics.
One of them in the product placement. In a country like France, thanks to the poor heath of the press, it has been a bonanza. The best (and worst) is yet to come. Indirect, stealthy ads will be quantified, measured, yielded, and monetized. Ethics will dilute.

12. Subprime tremors will still be heard.
2008 will be the year for the so-called sovereign funds, helping banks, investment outlets, avoiding bankruptcies. They have their agendas, their flaws (see Monday Note #15). They'll be everywhere.

13. Another bubble is likely.
Giant investment funds (pension funds, hedge funds, endowments funds, sovereign funds) are under tremendous pressure to invest. They are inducing distortion in economics, and inflating prices in the tech area. Wiser, due-diligence based venture funds will have the last world -- after all, they survived many crisis.

14. Barack Hussein Obama will be elected the 44th President of the
United Sates of America on November 4, 2008. Why ? Because he's smart, he's new, he's clean, he's authentic and because he is, by any measure, the antidote to the Bush era. And he will be 47 at the time of the election. And because Sept 11th legitimate post-traumatic disorder will be over. (Bear with me : this is the riskiest assumption of this note!)

Further readings about theses predictions :
> About the Cloud Computing and the advance of Google in that field, see this story in Business Week.
> About the upcoming clash between Google and Microsoft, read this features in the New York Times
> About Google acquisition of DoubleClick, see how Microsoft will unleash his lawyer to fight the deal. Read in Bits, the tech blog of the New York Times. And Europe is delaying the agreement of Doubleclick deal, story in the NY Times
> About the upcoming bubble. The view of Tom Perkins, founder of the most successful venture capital firm in the world, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. See this chat with Financial Times readers.
> And about disruptive vision : Andy Grove's two emails. The cofounder of Intel remains an active thinker . This autumn, he wrote two emails. One to Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, the other to Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart. Grove urged the first one to build an electric car, and the second to rework the US healthcare system. Grove and his Stanford pal call it cross-boundary disruption, XBD for short. Refreshing thoughts from a bright mind.
> story in Condé Nast Portfolio

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