10 Predictions for 2013

crystalball

I’ve always had a soft spot for year end predictions, even though they usually turn out to be wrong. My favorite style is a mix of well researched topics with some whimsy. Plus the pundit is honest enough to go back and score previous years predictions (which most don’t). So my model would be someone like tech writer Bob Cringley during his 1990’s heyday  So here’s some predictions for 2013, and if I’m still blogging in December 2013 I’ll scorecard these then.

  1. Apple closes above $800 a share on the last day of 2013. Since Apple is at $509 a share as of today (Dec 30, 2012), this means all the Apple bears get burned. I’ve already written about Apple a lot, so the gist is simple enough, the overall smartphone market is growing far faster than Apple’s market share percentage is declining, so Apple’s net sales and profits are going up for at least a few more years.
  2. Japan’s new prime minister Shinzo Abe pushes the Bank of Japan to try NGDP targeting of the money supply, and it works and starts to pull Japan out of recession. Frankly this is more wishful thinking on my part than something likely to happen, as Noah Smith points out. But if you are a hard core monetarist who’s convinced the current global recession is due to bad management of the money supply, then you really believe it will make a gigantic impact of improving the global economy and people’s lives. My post on NGDP targeting is here. So call this one a super long shot.
  3. Amazon continues on its crazy path of no profits and ridiculous stock price. This is a fairly mainstream point of view, so no real credit of this prediction. With that said, my long term prediction for Amazon is that they will never, ever, ever get to a reasonable profit margin. Hey, have investors noticed Amazon is competing with Walmart? Not yet apparently. Amazon is a fine company, but they are fundamentally in a low, low margin business and always will be. And so eventually their stock will come back to Earth once investors wise up. But that’s still a few years off.
  4. The Microsoft Windows 8 hybrid UI approach, mixing a touchscreen interface with a mouse/keyboard interface on the same device, is deemed a failure in the tech pundit world. Of course there are some people already saying it’s a failure, but this is by no means a consensus view. The pundit problem here is that pundits will smell blood by mid-2013, and they’ll pile on. The deeper problem is that only 60% of US households ever got a PC, because they are fundamentally too complex for many people to use. And my own experience is that of those 60%, about half rely on others to assist them from time to time to make sure their computers work. So maybe half of them are on the brink of not being able to use a PC. Compare that to 80% of US households having mobile phones, with that number still going higher as they get cheaper and easier to use. The hybrid UI approach makes PCs more complex to use and understand, and that means only a subset of the existing Windows install base will be savvy enough to use them. So while I think long term the hybrid UI approach will be a minor success, it’ll be to a smaller market than Windows has already, and the tech media will overreact and murder Microsoft in 2013 for their hybrid UI.
  5. Tablets will stabilize on the 7 inch size, invented by Kindle, and the larger iPads will turn more into a secondary, though still important, form factor. Not a super tough prediction at this point, but iPad mini numbers are not out there yet, so I’ll take some credit for this one if it turns out to be correct.
  6. Apple will NOT sell an actual TV with a monitor, and instead people will realize that the existing Apple TV box is going to be all Apple will sell. Given the rumors around Apple selling a TV that actually has a monitor, I think this is a good one and will take credit if people give up on Apple selling a TV device with a screen. Let me credit Matthew Yglesias for this one, if you want to read a bit more on this argument.
  7. Self driving cars go nowhere, and people wise up and realize that self-driving cars are no longer a tech problem, but are a legal liability problem that will take a decade to sort out. Right now the hype is pretty big because while some people already know how hard the lawsuit problem will be, it’s not a widely publicized. Here’s a typical article of which we’ll see a lot more.
  8. Natural gas and fracking continue to be wonderful for the economy and environment, and this will become a global phenomena (in particular China) in 2013 despite the continued mediocre media reaction. This is a case of environmental puritans longing for perfection, and trashing progress that’s good enough to help us all in the real world right now.
  9.  A la carte ordering of popular cable shows for digital download continues to not happen despite huge whining from the tech world. So Game of Thrones in particular continues to only be available for download AFTER the DVD comes out. I’ll do a post on this later, but for now just wanted to throw this prediction out there.
  10. Random sports predictions. Lakers – not in the finals, despite a recovery late in the season. Bengals – lose in first round game of this postseason in January, but make the playoffs for third straight year in December 2013.

Well, that’s 10 predictions. Likely half are wrong, but we won’t know for sure which ones until the end of 2013.

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