Friday, December 08, 2006

My 2006 predictions: The results

Last year, like many others, I made a bunch of predictions for what would happen in 2006. It is time to look back and see how many I got right.

The press will attack Google, GOOG will drop
False. The press has been more critical of Google, poking at it occasionally on management, privacy issues, and the YouTube deal. But, there has been no major disillusionment or scandal, and the stock price has only gone higher.

Yahoo bets on community, buys more community startups, gets little benefit
True. Yahoo has bet heavily on community and social search (Yahoo Answers, My Web,, but success with these in the mainstream has been mixed. Yahoo acquired and Jumpcut. Yahoo has disappointed investors with their performance, leading to a major reorg recently.

Microsoft launches unsuccessful AdSense competitor
True. Microsoft launched adCenter, which has not yet been successful at threatening Google AdSense.
False. Microsoft launched adCenter, an AdWords competitor, but has not launched an AdSense competitor yet.

MSN Search will increase share
Very false. In fact, MSN Search share dropped substantially. I'll say it again, it really is remarkable how badly MSN Search is doing.

Microsoft will abandon Windows Live
False. What I meant by this prediction is that Microsoft could not maintain both the MSN and the Live brand, so they would choose MSN over an expensive effort to build a new Live brand. But that was wrong too. Microsoft is not abandoning the MSN brand or the Live brand; they are trying to build both brands, creating much confusion.

Mainstream will like tagging images and videos, but not documents
Mostly true. My Web 2.0,, and other apps for tagging documents do not seem to be attracting large audiences. Tagging images on Flickr and videos on YouTube seems reasonably popular, though, even for images and videos, it is not clear that large mainstream audiences widely have embraced the effort required to label things with tags.

Tagging sites will be assaulted by spam
False, at least at the level I was predicting. I thought Technorati,, and Flickr would be flooded with spammers labeling ads and other crap with arbitrary tags, hoping to attract clicks. Technorati and show some spam, but are not "assaulted" by an "influx of crap".

A spam robot will attack Wikipedia
False, but the part of this prediction that said that Wikipedia will "shut off anonymous edits and place other controls on changes" was at least partially true. As Nick Carr said, "the administrators adopted an 'official policy' of what they called ... 'semi-protection' to prevent 'vandals' ... from messing with their open encyclopedia." Moreover, as Eric Goldman argues, major spam attacks on Wikipedia may just be a matter of time.

Yahoo and MSN launch blog search, Technorati and Feedster lose share, Google Blog Search dominates
Mostly false true. Yahoo and MSN still do not have a separate blog search, but Ask did launch one. Feedster is suffering, but Technorati is doing surprisingly well against Google Blog Search. Feedster and Technorati are both suffering, and Google is dominating.

An impressive and more ambitious version of Google Q&A
False, at least not yet. I was expecting to see something really cool here, a product of the massive processing power of the Google cluster, but it did not happen. Though, I have to say, hints of good things to come seem to keep popping up in Peter Norvig's talks. Maybe this is just a matter of time.

A VC-fueled bubble around personalization
False. There has been interest and some funding for startups doing personalization and recommendations, but not at the absurd, frothy level I expected.

Google News adds recommendations, MSN/Yahoo experiment with personalization, all three expand in targeted advertising
Mostly true. Google News does have a widget that recommends news based on your reading history. AOL launched news recommendations in My AOL. Yahoo and MSN are both doing early experiments with behavioral targeted advertising, but have not done much elsewhere with implicit personalization.

Hype about mashups and APIs will fade
False. If anything, the hype seems to be increasing. I have not seen much evidence that people are disillusioned yet with the restrictions or lack of uptime guarantees on APIs. That may be a matter of time; a scandal like an extended downtime or sudden change to harsher terms on an API might be sufficient.
Mostly false, since there still is much hype, but there are signs of a growing backlash. See the updates at the bottom of this post.

eBay's business slows, eBay makes other acquisitions to acquire growth
Mostly true. eBay's growth has slowed. The expensive Skype deal seems to have tempered eBay's interests in additional acquisitions, but they did do a $2M acquisition of Meetup, $48M acquisition of Tradera, and a deal with Google.

Well, not such a good track record. About a third true or mostly true. Maybe I should put away my crystal ball?

Update: As John K pointed out in the comments, Microsoft adCenter is an AdWords competitor, not an AdSense competitor. Microsoft has not yet launched an AdSense competitor. Sorry, my mistake.

Update: I may have judged too soon on the lack of a backlash against APIs. Google very recently pulled their web search API, causing Dare Obasanjo to say:
One thing that is slowly becoming clear is that providers of data services would rather provide you their data in ways they can explicitly monetize (e.g. driving traffic to their social bookmarking site or showing their search ads) instead of letting you drain their resources for free no matter how much geek cred it gets them.
That is not too far from what I said back in Nov 2005:
I keep hearing people talk about as if companies are creating web services because they just dream of setting all their data free. Sorry, folks, that isn't the reason.

Companies offer web services to get free ideas, exploit free R&D, and discover promising talent. That's why the APIs are crippled with restrictions like no more than N hits a day, no commercial use, and no uptime or quality guarantees. They offer the APIs so people can build clever toys, the best of which the company will grab -- thank you very much -- and develop further on their own.
Update: I guess I also judged too soon when I said Technorati is doing surprisingly well against Google Blog Search. According to a Dec 28 article from Hitwise, the combined traffic of and is now about twice that of Technorati.

Update: Maybe I was just too early on the VC frenzy around personalization. VC Fred Wilson predicts that "the implicit web is going to start taking off in 2007" where the "implicit web", as Fred defines it, is using clickstream and other implicit information about preferences to do recommendations and personalization. Perhaps the frenzy will be in 2007, not 2006.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, but at least you had the cojones to make some real, substantial, specific predictions. Nicely done.

Eric Goldman said...

Yahoo also bought Bix. Eric.

Anonymous said...

maybe you should keep your crystal ball out, but turn it upside-down? :)

Anonymous said...

Not too bad ! btw, from the place i live (europe) i think this is the youtube's year. Who knows if next year will be its fall (copyrights issues) or its confirmation !

Anonymous said...

I think I'll get a 75% satisfaction from these predictions. I think many of them have good odds for 2007.
And just If you can tell me what are the Vc funding in Reco segmentyou are thinking about ?
It's definitely gonna be for 2007. In 2006 Vcs needed to deal with UGC now they have to face the overload problem. Again it's a timing problem not an accurracy one.

You're too much on the edge, you should make 2 years predictions ;-)

Anonymous said...

Predication for 2007 - Partial death of -

Anonymous said...

Well, it's better to put yourself out there and make specific preditions that may or may not come true. I mean, you could have predicted "Apple with release a new iPod" if you wanted to be right!

Keep it up for 2007.

John K said...

Nit pick: adCenter is NOT and AdSense competitor. It's an unsuccessful AdWords competitor.

They're gonna launch that unsuccessful AdSense (contextual ad) competitor NEXT year.

Anonymous said...

Well done, barring stock predictions. I like a person who goes back and reviews their predictions.
Ina (

Anonymous said...

Well, not such a good track record. About a third true or mostly true. Maybe I should put away my crystal ball?

Is the most important thing aspect of making predictions their eventual accuracy, or the exercise of critical thinking it requires?
Or just plain fun? As long as there's no penalty for predictions that don't pan out, I say keep it up. It's not like people are timing the planting of their crops on your predicitons or something.

Anonymous said...

Keep going with the predictions. I still think some of those will bear fruit, for example Berkowitz may yet drop the Live brand.

Anonymous said...

Did eBay really acquire Meetup, as mentioned in your last point? I hadn't heard that, nor have I seen any media but could be wrong.

Greg Linden said...

Hi, Tim. Sorry, to be more accurate, eBay made an investment in Meetup.

The full list of eBay investments is in Wikipedia.

Anonymous said...

Despite all of the false predictions, you still did better than most bloggers.
Kudos for looking back at your own predictions and admitting you were somewhat wrong :)