With 2009 coming to an end, it is not surprising that everyone is making predictions about what 2010 has in store. So instead, four of us — Liz, Stacey, Sebastian and I — have put together a wish list of seven things we hope come true in 2010.
Facebook Goes Public – What Silicon Valley needs is the world’s largest social network to file for an initial public offering and go public at a fantastic valuation. The event will not only give Facebook ample money to continue its battle against Google, but will also give the company currency (stock) to buy some startups. More importantly, Facebook’s IPO could have a domino effect that would let companies such as Zynga ride its coat tails to the market. A couple of strong IPOs could then lead to more offerings (and there are many who are awaiting their turn) that will jump-start the investment cycle in Silicon Valley — and thus the startup ecosystem. — Om
50 Mbps For $50 – Comcast and many of its cable brethren currently charge between $80 and $200 a month for a 50 Mbps, depending on where you live. I hope they can actually bring the price down to a more affordable $50 a month. Same goes for Verizon and other phone companies that are providing fiber-based broadband in the U.S. In doing so, these companies will put U.S. consumers on somewhat of an equal footing with their European and Asian counterparts. More importantly, higher speeds at lower prices would also make new innovations possible. Remember — it was only four years ago that YouTube came about, due in part to the spread of 3 Mbps service. — Om
MySpace Builds an Awesome Music Service – MySpace has corporate orders to be an “entertainment portal” and what seems to be an open checkbook to buy up music assets like iLike and iMeem (though they’re not exactly selling at a premium these days). It also has the support (if you can call it that) of its equity holders at the four major music labels. So c’mon guys, let’s make something compelling! I don’t mind paying either, if it’s legitimately good. I want an easy interface between my own music and stuff I want to stream, offline access, great support for devices, Spotify-quality UI and speed (maybe time to open the checkbook again). And, while I’m on a roll here with the feature wish list, compatibility with my car stereo would be just super. Thanks. — Liz
Hulu Goes Premium – Hulu’s corporate parents are clearly fixated on the idea that the site could launch a subscription service that would push it toward profitability in a way that an unobtrusive number of ads has not. Well, if that’s what they want, maybe we consumers shouldn’t be so up in arms about it. If I would trust anyone to do paid video right, it would be Jason Kilar and the team at Hulu, who have already shown they can turn the ingredients for a rigid unappealing mess into a genuinely enjoyable user experience. For a second there, we’d thought “TV Everywhere” could be the answer, but a look at Comcast’s Xfinity reminds us that we were taking crazy pills when we thought the cable companies could get this one right. Here’s what we want: a simple subscription plan with no ads, full show libraries and living room access. It’s not like the cable companies and broadcasters are getting along these days (ahem, Fox, Time Warner); now’s the time to make a break for it. — Liz
Real National Broadband Map – We hope to get a national broadband map out of the National Broadband Plan or stimulus money that shows Washington and current and future ISPs where the competition is lagging for broadband access. The map would also show Congress should where it should allocate the money to bridge the gap between metro areas with fast service and rural areas where the carriers have already indicated that it’s not economical to put fiber lines in. It’s the first step to ultra-broadband for everyone. — Stacey
AT&T’s iPhone Exclusivity Ends – AT&T’s exclusive deal with Apple as the U.S. carrier for the iPhone expires next year, and there are signs that the arrangement between the two companies will then end. Such a move would bode very well indeed for the entire Apple ecosystem, from iPhone users to application developers. As we noted here, Apple itself, despite the substantial kickbacks it gets from AT&T from service contract sales, stands to benefit the most. Ending the AT&T exclusivity would position Apple to best take advantage of something it already has: enthusiastic iPhone app developers, who would welcome more openness in Apple’s carrier strategy. Users, too, would get substantial flexibility from the multiple-carrier opportunity, and, in many cases, better service. — Sebastian
Chrome OS Shifts, Works With Local Apps Too – Google’s November unveiling of its Chrome OS, aimed at netbooks and due late next year, generated much excitement — for some good reasons. Very early tests of its open-source core show it to boot and shut down almost instantly, and its approach to security is so stringent that if malware is detected, the OS will wipe and reimage itself. In short, it could take away many of the headaches that Windows-based netbook users live with. We’ve noted before, though, that Google is taking some huge gambles with Chrome OS, the most glaring of which is that it will require users to work with data stored exclusively in the cloud. That’s just not flexible, and it will box people out of everything from using their favorite local software utilities to working with SaaS apps that have hybrid cloud/local features. It would be great to see Google shift its cloud-only strategy, as it moves into potentially promising but unfamiliar territory, boosting competition among operating systems. — Sebastian