So the fun thing about writing a blog for a decade is that it's sort of like those infinite monkeys in a room with typewriters - eventually you'll get Hamlet. You'll get a lot of garbage as well, but happily you can go back and cherry pick the good stuff out later and say, "Yeah, I thought of that years ago." This is where this post comes in. :-)
When I was going through my posts trying to find ones that would be worthy of some top 10 list, I ran into quite a few entries that were actually surprisingly prescient. Of course, anyone can say, 'someday we'll all drive flying cars' and though someday they'll be correct, that doesn't make them Arthur C. Clarke by any stretch. I think the posts below were sufficiently timely, or at least contrary enough to popular opinion at that moment, that I still think they count.
Here's a few good ones, and then one really, really, really bad one:
Predicting the end of Palm
And last year, Handspring launched their Treo and I thought it might be a sign of good things to come and started thinking seriously about the PalmOS. But it didn't last for long. After reading about their plans for PalmOS 5 and the ARM processor, I decided that these guys are doomed. They SEEM like they have all the right things going for them. They have a lead in PDAs, they bought the BeOS and have several high-profile licensees like Sony. But it's all crap. Palm doesn't know how to execute.
Predicting the value of fresh mobile content
It's all about having fresh content - but not news - fresh games. This is why the NYT and London Times can both charge MONEY for access to today's crosswords, where the REST of their news is free. People want to feel like they're getting the latest puzzle there is. This is cool and unique and translates quite well.
I did a follow up here: Mobile Crossword redux which went into detail about an iPhone crossword app generating $2k a day.
So I see there is an opportunity to fill a gap in both of these mobile worldviews [mobile vs. desktop] by offering a service I'm code-naming "Dot Mob" as a mobile copy of Apple's .Mac online service. The idea incorporates much of the same sort of offerings in .Mac, but with additional eGroups style capabilities for interaction among mobile phone users.
Since I was basing my idea off of a service Apple already had (.Mac), it may not be surprising they eventually offered it. But they still really aren't there yet, even though they've had the better part of the past decade to figure it out.
Predicting Tablets and the iPad
My bet is that in the future we'll all be moving to tablet PCs and virtual keyboards. Why? Less moving parts = less costs to the manufacturers. Want a "real" keyboard? Go buy one and plug it into the USB port. Tablets are the future - it's just obvious.
It took the rest of the decade to get there, and I was overly impressed with Microsoft's attempts at the time, but still...
Syncing is *THE* most important piece of technology in the future of mobility. ... You want to make sure it's the latest version, that if you change that data it's reflected anywhere else you use that data and finally, that if in case you lose that data, it's backed up somewhere you can get at it. It's simple. I don't care if this all happens over a USB Cable, A Bluetooth Connection or a Cellular Network. It just needs to happen, and seamlessly.
Predicting the iPhone
The psychology part is this: Steve Jobs has a mobile phone. I'm not sure which mobile phone it is, but he's definltely got one. And he hates it. He curses at it every day. He hates it like he hated the original IBM PC. He hates how hard it is to add contacts and make calls and he cringes at the web experience and the Java games, if he's even bothered to try them. He holds it in his hand during long trips and admires some things about it, but knows *he could do it better.* He knows that if Apple decided to make a mobile phone, it would be the most intuitive and elegant mobile phone in the world. And he wants that phone. And what Steve Jobs wants, Steve Jobs gets.
Prototyping a mobile eBook reader
It's not a business, just a concept to show that you can actually serve Real Content to mobile phones. What I did was import 600+ Public Domain eBooks from Project Gutenberg and I'm dynamically reformatting the plain text to be readable on the web and modern mobiles with WAP2 minibrowsers.
I actually showed this to Jeff Bezos at Camp FOO.
The instant-on part can't be over emphasized. It's what really separated the experience of using the big-screened Zodiac as a tablet and the PSP. Being able to grab your breakfast and sit at the table reading my morning news without hassle is so important...
Predicting the functionality of Siri
"Call Mom," would dial your Mom's number. "Today's appointments?" would bring back an electronic voice that would tell you when your next meeting was. "Email Dave... Hey, let's get together next weekend. " would send off an email with an MP3 attachment of your message. "Message Mike... Are you up for lunch later?" would send off an MMS message to Mike. "Todo... pick up my laundry on the way home" would pop a voice record in your todo list, and to get them back you could ask, "List today's todos".
I had forgotten about this, and it makes me wonder if Apple will launch a super-simplified Siri-only device.
Predicting the death of Symbian
I'm betting that the future of mobility will be Linux, and not Symbian, Windows or anything else. This is quite a change from my previous pro-Symbian stances, but I've been sort of leaning this way for a while - or rather, leaning away from Symbian as it fails to live up to its potential - and now I've finally come to a religious change of faith when it comes to mobile OSes.
I also said that Windows Mobile wouldn't be around either... And Android is technically Linux, so this was a good one.
Predicting OnLive Desktop
Remote Desktop is done incredibly well. It's been around for years, but I never bothered using it until last summer, thinking it was just like VNC, only just for Windows. It's much more than that because the quality is just so high - it feels just like you're working right on the other computer, with almost no change in the experience. ... And I'll tell you, as nice as some of the mobile browsers are - say Opera for the 770 - nothing compares with browsing while mobile using your PCs full-on browser back at your desk - it does all the work, and just sends you the results over the air, saving your handheld from having to churn through network connects and parse the markup itself.
I didn't think of a server-based version of this at the time, but I recognized the power of remote access to a PC from a tablet.
Predicting the Responsive Web
Like the iPhone's mobile Safari browser, Opera Mini supports CSS3 media queries which lets you modify the style based on "media features", which include among other attributes, height, width and color. In other words, instead of requiring that the device know that it's a handheld (or in Internet Explorer's case, that it's *not* a handheld) in a boolean yes/no manner, CSS3 allows the publishers to design based on a device's specific capabilities. I have to say, this is a much better way to specify formatting...
Predicting the end of XHTML-based mobile websites
Predicting the rise of NFC
The data is still transferred via Bluetooth, but the pairing is done by actually touching the devices together. At first it seems like a step backwards, I know, but when you see it happen in front of your eyes, quick as anything, an ah-ha moment happens, trust me.
I saw this when I joined Nokia, and obviously they already knew how cool it was, but it's taking a surprisingly long time for anyone else to get it. Over the next year it's going to really take off. (Hmm, so technically this actually hasn't happened yet... It will though.)
Predicting the iPad's new menus
I created the mockups well before the iPad came out with the new speech-balloon style menus.
Predicting the tablet form factor's applicability
The size, shape and interactivity of the tablet mockup they have is emblematic of where all computing is going, I'm convinced. The simplicity of the device is just gorgeous - a big screen in a thin, light frame, with multi-touch actions for control. Perfect. Simple, but powerful.
This demo was about showing off a new Magazine, but I took one look at the tablet form factor and functionality, and knew it was going to be the future for all computing.
Predicting the functionality of Windows 8
I think all of us really wanted to see a MacPad, not an iPad. Not a peripheral gadget, but a primary computing device that can be used by touch if desired. Something that can function on a desktop with a keyboard and mouse, and then be picked up and tossed into a bag, or to be used while sitting down on a couch or in bed with only the touch screen for the interface.
The main complaint about the iPad was, and still is in many ways, that it wasn't a full-fledged Mac. That didn't end up hindering its success at all, but Microsoft is addressing that complaint full-on.
And... The Worst Decision of my Life
Predicting Google's stock wouldn't get above $200 a share in 2004
And with Google's stock at 190.41, what sort of options would I get? 'Here's 10,000 options priced at 190. If the stock goes up to 250, you're golden!' I could be wrong about this, but like I said, I didnt' feel like bothering to find out.
I've heard I would've gotten a lot more options than this, and by 2007, the stock had hit $700 a share. My 32yo self was quite the fucking idiot.
So yeah, if you add up all the money I've gotten from the correct predictions above ($0) vs the money I lost on that last one ($MILLIONS), I'd say that I'm actually quite a crappy prognosticator when it counts.