Which trend is for you in '08?

Raghav ‘Rags’ Gupta, a partner at Brightcove, and a Gigaom contributor, put up a thoughtful post Sunday called 5 Trends & Themes for the Year Ahead. Rags moves beyond a few super-exposed stories (clean tech and the 700 megahertz wireless auction), and he phrases his trends as questions, not declarations, which is a constructive way to ponder the business landscape.

Take a look at this abbreviation of Rag’s list. As yourself if your startup can address his questions, or ours (in itals). If not, consider whether, with some strategic modification, your b-model, product, or service could. Do this and chances are you’ll be better-positioned for 2008.

1. Can user-generated video be directly monetized and made to be profitable? I’m skeptical that the effective CPMs from running ads on UGV will outweigh the cost of goods sold (bandwidth, etc.) to make a good business. Does your video startup have a revenue-model than beats COGS?

2. Will recorded music continue the march towards being ad-supported?
Deals like iMeem indicate that the ad-supported model is very much top-of-mind with the major labels. … But a great ad-supported business takes time to build. How can you build a startup in this space that has sufficient runway?

3. Will handset makers continue to gain more leverage with carriers?
Recent announcements indicate [carriers’] willingness to … cede more power, and risk, to handset makers and others… Could your mobile startup leverage this shift?

4. As the social network turns, where will it go? Most social networks have either opened up their platform to third-party applications [but] how will the social networks and apps monetize this? Does your startup monetizes social nets?

5. Will there be a macro-economic slowdown [and] what will be the effects on the online space? … look for a flight to quality … That means Google, Yahoo … Marginal sites that [are] not part of a quality network will suffer, as will unproven advertising media like widgets, UGV and virtual worlds. That would spell trouble for startups that lack traction and are too dependent on an ad-supported model. Do you have a plan for forging an alliance with a “quality network”?

For the full text of Rag’s trend-questions, continue reading here.

Based in London, Raghav “Rags” Gupta is VP of International Partnerships at Brightcove, where he has worked since ‘05, prior to which he was a senior executive at Live365. Check out his blog at http://www.ragsgupta.com.

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