2009 Predictions

[Note I wrote this in early January, and forgot to publish it]

This is the 4th year in a row I do this, and so far am a bit ahead on the predictions (each year slightly better than the previous, so pay attention this time), so I figure I might as well keep up the tradition.

Lets reflect on the past year so i can then jump to next year’s predictions.  So what has changed? The economy as a whole sucks, the capital markets suck, budgets are shrinking, and exits are vanishing.

So that was depressing, but what can we look forward to in 2009?

1. People start building businesses.
The idea of cash-flow positive businesses comes back into favor. People realize that it isn’t such a bad thing to build a web business that generates money and can support itself.  Realistically the exits we had grown infatuated with are now long gone, and not coming back for a while.  The ipo market is shot, and the traditional buyers (big web1.0 survivors) are scrambling to shore up their capital reserves.

2. Community APIs take another leap forward
Facebook connect, google friend connect, open social connect (purely theoretical), etc. all take major leaps in terms of adoption and functionality.

3. The portability of the social graph gets that much closer
Projects like DiSo and APML and FOAF take us one step closer, but really not until late in the year do we see much emerge from this (from an adoption/usability standpoint).

4. Small businesses come onto the web even more
There are MILLIONS of businesses out there that don’t have websites yet. This year whoever can build them cheap, cost effective, turn key systems for managing this will make a killing.  Synthasite is one to look at, but their offering won’t be able to convert mom & pop diner into mompopdiner.com yet.

5. Companies will adopt social media in new ways
Companies that were starting to adopt it in 2008 will start experimenting, and we’ll se a lot of brands connecting effectively with their fans.  My idea of carving a community out of an existing community will become more important.

6. Mobile payment and micropayments will go mainstream this year
The costs will have to come down for them to be realistically mainstream, but virtual goods will pave the way. Look to Visa to make an effort in this space to find new streams of revenue as consumer spending tightens a bit.

7. Small is the new big
Quick one weekend projects will emerge in force this year.  Open APIs and cheap infrastructure will make it super easy for someone to release a project every month. These projects won’t be huge money makers, but will grow like weeds. Twitter is going to benefit from this eco-system the most.

8. Twitter/micro-content hits mainstream.
When you start seeing main street people redoing their business cards to include their twitter and other micro content addresses, then you know its come of age. SXSW will give twitter a huge boost, again, but look to celebrities to push it from 4Million users to 20M users this year.

9. Social networks will start talking to each other
Look to see the 4-10th place networks to start sharing data and traffic between each other in an effort to compete with Facebook and Myspace (who will become the #2 this quarter).  Maybe we’ll see an adaptation to make Opensocial work with Facebook platform (Dan Lester was working on this a year ago via OpenSocket project).