10 Predictions for 2012

Last year I made several predictions for what the tech world would see in 2011, and I'm both proud and deeply surprised to report some of them actually came true.

For example, I predicted that Facebook's population would surpass that of India and it would apply for membership in the United Nations. That was wrong. India still leads Facebook by a comfortable margin of about 300 million. But I was right in predicting that Mark Zuckerberg would shave for the first time.

I suggested that Google would introduce its own social network (correct!) called GoogleMe (incorrect!) that would suffer some privacy controversy (correct again!) and eventually die off everywhere but in Brazil (still to be determined). Google Android did become the most popular smartphone platform, as predicted, but average battery life for an Android handset still clocks in at just under an hour -- I thought that might be fixed by now.

I correctly prognosticated IPOs for Pandora and Groupon, but missed the boat on Skype (acquired by Microsoft), Tumblr, Twitter, and Rovio (stay tuned). Also, AOL did not reacquire Time Warner for a ridiculous sum, but it did almost as well by obtaining the Huffington Post for a ridiculous sum.

With that kind of track record I had to try again for 2012 -- which, if my predictions are correct, will be the last year I or anyone else gets to do this. Here are my top 10 prognostications for the new year.

Prediction No. 1: In the easiest prediction anyone will ever make, let me go out on a very short limb and say that Facebook will announce an IPO within the first three months of 2012. The share price will shoot through the stratosphere, briefly making Mark Zuckerberg the world's richest geek as well as the sweatiest, before falling back to earth. A handful of investment bankers will get richer; the rest of us, not so much.

Prediction No. 2: RIM will be acquired at a bargain-basement price by either Google or Microsoft. My money is on Microsoft -- which is a better fit for the enterprise-focused RIM, has the money, and needs the market share a lot more than Google does. No matter what the final asking price, however, Microsoft will still end up paying too much.

Prediction No. 3: Windows Phone will become the third most popular smartphone OS behind Android and iOS, thanks largely to its deal with Nokia (and that BlackBerry acquisition I just predicted). But like the late Rodney Dangerfield, it still won't get no respect.

Prediction No. 4: Apple will introduce an iOS-based app-driven touch-sensitive HDTV. Life as we know it will be irrevocably altered for at least a week, and the blogosphere will run out of adjectives and/or hyphens in attempting to describe its magicalness. Everyone else will come out with their own version six months later and the world will go "meh."

Prediction No. 5: We will see widespread hacking of electronic voting machines during the November 2012 presidential election by either Anonymous-style hacktivists out to prove a point, Chinese/Russian cyber spies, or shadowy parties with a vested interest in the outcome, throwing the results into chaos. In other words, it'll be just like 2000 and 2004.

Prediction No. 6: The Larry-Sergey-Eric triumvirate at Google will dissolve, and at least one of them will leave Google. My money is on Sergey taking his billions and going off to do something unrelated to computers, like funding his own Martian space venture or building a machine that can turn cancelled reality TV shows into a source of renewable energy.

Prediction No. 7: Amazon will replace Google as the most feared company on the InterWebs, as it gradually moves into every possible business niche by acquiring every company not already owned by Google, Microsoft, or Facebook. Also, Jeff Bezos will agree to a cameo role as Dr. Evil's twin brother in "Austin Powers 4: Never Say Never Again, Again."

Prediction No. 8: Zynga will introduce a new politically oriented social game called OccupyVille. But the product will fail when the company discovers nobody wants to brag on Facebook about being pepper sprayed.

Prediction No. 9: This has nothing to with tech, but what the heck: Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president, but we will also see a major GOP hopeful split off and form a third party. My money is on the Geico Gecko. He's taller than Ron Paul, nicer than Newt, less ridiculous looking than Donald Trump -- and who can resist that accent?

Prediction No. 10: Finally -- there is a 67.2 percent chance that the world will end in 2012, either due to the Mayan prophecy, the simultaneous culmination of both 11- and 110-year solar flare cycles, or both. There is a 102 percent certainty that by the end of January most of us will be sick to death of hearing about the Mayan prophecy and will gladly welcome the end of days.

See you next year. The year after? Maybe not.

What do you think will happen in 2012? Post your predictions below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "10 for 2012: Facebook IPO, Apple HDTV, Armageddon, and more," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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