Crystal ball-gazing: 2011 how did I do?

On December 5, last year I made a potential ass of myself by making predictions about what would happen over the subsequent year. This is the time when I see how I did:

I thought that 2011 would be Facebook’s best ever year

With the 100 billion dollar market valuation, and pundits coming out saying there is no point investing in social networks because that problem is already solved; I guess I nailed that one. What is more interesting is where Facebook is heading and that is where I think that things are starting to become interesting. I think that there are signs of the wheels coming off the wagon. I’ve talked about these things before on this blog. But over the past 12 months new things have cropped up:

  • Frictionless sharing that Facebook introduced is a way of getting around declining engagement and creating inventory that advertising can be put against. The problem with a newsfeed based on frictionless sharing is that it becomes  noise
  • The rise of Facebook on mobile has meant a paradoxical reduction in engagement

2011 will be make-or-break for Twitter. 2011 should start to see the fruits of Dick Costolo’s efforts to provide a clear long-term vision for Twitter

Twitter feels like a bit of a soap opera with all the management changes I guess 2012 will show whether Twitter is finally on its way from a commercial point-of-view.

Couponsthe economic condition means that coupons aren’t likely to go away though there will be a thinning out of competition in this field.

GroupOn going for IPO is about critical mass. What is more instructive is that there has been a reduction in the amount of coupon start-ups looking for PR respresentation and GroupOn has consolidated in markets where it hasn’t done well – China being a prime example.

Depressing though the thought is Carol Bartz will still be employed by Yahoo!.

What can I say, right assumptions – wrong conclusion. Who would have guessed that Yahoo!’s board would have grown a set of cojones (at least temporarily)?

My assumptions that led me to the wrong conclusion were:

  • Yahoo! is non-performing (people now realise that the Microsoft deal stinks, but then there is the Yahoo! talent drain, the lack of meaningful cost savings and the sales team rotating door)
  • There was no viable CEO replacement (which is why things are where they are)
  • The Asian Gordian Knot with Alibaba and Softbank
  • No easy answers on Europe
  • Yahoo! has phenomenal traffic inspite of itself otherwise this would be taking a trajectory that would be mirroring Stephen Elop’s leadership at Nokia

Gadget sales will have peaked in 2010.

Looking at global semiconductor sales as a proxy for gadget sales there is a year on year rise of just 2.1 per cent projected with a sharp drop over the last quarter. Some of the new categories like tablets are disrupting others like the PC market. The TV market is a state of large scale structural change as the Japanese brands struggle to compete as prices have plunged. Add into the mix the economic pressures and I think we’ll see a continued flattening of gadget sales unless the mobile legal troubles disrupt market options or Apple blows us out of the water with a brace of game-changing new products.

Generation-y will have to suck it up.

The Occupy movement gets headlines but looks impotent. Meanwhile in the UK data suggests that about a quarter of graduates are at best underemployed in tasks that doesn’t match their skills sets. In China these people are called ants, at the bottom of the tree things are hyper-competitive. It will be a while before things get easier due to the rolling train wreck that is the economy of the developed world.

More information

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr’s Blog: About Facebook

Thoughts on Facebook’s apparent decline in the developed world

Why Facebook is a dead man walking part 2.5? | 技术品牌的情绪

Facebook, privacy and consumer behaviour | 网路消费者行为

Facebook’s last battle?

Why Facebook is a dead man walking part II?

Facebook Fatigue

Why Facebook is a dead man walking

October global chip sales fell back, says WSTS