What to Expect From 2002

It’s that time of year when we reflect back on the 12 months preceding and envision what the next 12 will bring. In that spirit, I’m reminding you of my predictions for 2001 — you be the judge of my accuracy! — and offering my outlook for 2002.

A Recap of My 2001 Predictions

1. Software emerges as a service. Microsoft’s .NET is just one example. We’re going to see a lot more offerings based on the application service provider (ASP) model, whereby a third party manages an organization’s software needs for a monthly fee.

2. Telecommunication companies face deeper crises. The costs of licenses and infrastructure will outweigh the revenue potential. To survive, these companies will need to pursue mergers with traditional content companies, as any viable revenue model will require a comprehensive content offering.

3. This will be the year when governments truly begin to catch up with the Internet. A raft of legislation is to be expected, particularly around the areas of privacy and consumer rights.

4. Because we have hit the 60 percent penetration ceiling for PCs, a whole range of appliances will allow access to the Internet for the 40 percent of the population that has no interest in buying a traditional PC.

5. The problem of information overload will continue to grow. Productivity will increasingly be lost because people will spend longer searching for the information they need.

6. The concept of the “free” Internet will further fade as profit becomes the only religion. By the end of 2001, the average Internet user won’t have all that more bandwidth than at the beginning of the year. Broadband companies will go bust big time, as the cost of infrastructure versus revenue widens.

7. Hackers will continue to be a thorn in the side of the Internet. Security will become an even bigger issue. There won’t be any major recovery in 2001. The first half of the year will be bruising, with the second half showing some modest gains.

8. The Internet will continue to be a revolutionary force in the world. Sure, there has been lots of hype. Sure, there has been a downturn. But the Internet is only getting started. The first time I used a Web browser I was awestruck. I still am.

My Predictions for 2002

1. Although the worst is probably over, there will be no major recovery in 2002. Things will stabilize during the first half of the year, with modest gains from there on.

2. This will be the year of the virus. Security will become an ever-increasing concern.

3. There will be increasing calls for comprehensive Internet legislation, as the Internet becomes more critical to the lives of millions. Copyright, crime, and terrorism will be the focus of much legislation.

4. Spam will continue to be a major problem and will be one of the key reasons people will want a more regulated Internet.

5. Bankruptcies, mergers, and consolidation will continue. More people will go to fewer Web sites as the Internet becomes controlled by a few megacorporations.

6. The PC crisis will continue. For a significant percentage of the population, there will be no compelling reason to buy a PC. For those who have one, there will be few compelling reasons to upgrade.

7. The wireless and telecommunications sector will continue to flounder. Too much cost, too much hype, and too little demand for all these wonderful extra services will badly hurt these industries in 2002.

8. A two-tier Internet will clearly emerge: for-free and for-fee.

9. Information architecture will become the crucial discipline in Web site design. This means a greater focus on getting your metadata, classification, navigation, and search right.

10. Amazon.com will make a profit.

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