1. The “Internet stocks” that are currently riding a huge bubble, will crash. And they will crash hard. I predict Amazon’s stock price to fall back down below $100 a share, where it rightfully belongs. Current Internet stocks are majority owned by small investors who purchase only a couple hundred (or less) shares at a time. These types of investors are commonly called day-traders. Day-traders commonly short stocks very quickly, and do not normally follow the lead of Wall Street.
2. E-commerce web sites will focus on one-to-one marketing and personalization. These sites will move from being a huge database with a convenient commerce back-end to being sites that allow users to customize as much of the web site data as possible. Expect to see more wish lists, favorites lists, customized data and better personalization.
3. The Internet will finally be accepted by the mass media and welcomed with warm arms. The public image of the Internet being a place for child molestors, sex weirdos and computer nerds will disappear and the numerous benefits of the Internet will finally be acknowledged.
4. Information appliances with Internet capabilities will appear. Some of these will be consumer appliances. Some of them will be toys for the rich boys. Apple will lead this charge with their rumored “iMac portable.” Don’t be surprised to see Apple partner with Palm Computing to produce a Newton-like information appliance for the home. Windows CE will remain at the fringes, but not gain any support due to it’s poor operating system.
5. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer will become the standard browser, despite the open source movement currently underway with Netscape’s Mozilla project. The main reason for this is the unfortunate purchase of Netscape by AOL. A bad marriage that will surely end in divorce, conveniently allowing Microsoft to sneak their way into the majority position. Don’t be surprised to see Microsoft partner up with AOL to an even further extent in 1999. It’s in Microsoft’s nature to do so.
6. XML will become the next standard for web site page building. It will begin as server-side applications and within 18 months be fully integrated into the leading browser(s). CSS will probably not be adopted widely by web developers due to it’s poor implementation in the current browsers.
7. DVD will be big, both on the Internet and off. Divx will fade away and Circuit City (Divx’s creator/supporter) will eat its losses. Divx may have a chance at selling their pay-per-view format to rental shops, but Divx will largely be ignored by consumers.
8. Spam will be less of a problem in 1999, even though there will be a record number of people online and using email. This is mostly due to several anti-spam laws passed earlier this year and also because many Internet providers simply are refusing to supply a services to known spammers.
9. Cable companies will finally start supplying quality Internet access to the home. Expect to see Internet-savvy real-estate managers pushing apartment complexes with ethernet jacks and fast connections. Free advice: If I had a billion dollars, I’d be building one of these hi-tech complexes in every major city in the country, and waiting lists would be very long.
10. And finally, Microsoft will remain the dominant player it is in the software industry, despite a serious threat of losing its case with the DOJ. Microsoft will continue to do what it does best, embrace and extend emerging technologies, sometimes producing a hit, sometimes not.
Posted by Cameron Barrett at December 22, 1998 11:59 PM