Five Fearless Predictions for 2008

It’s been a wild year on the Internet as social media has taken the Web by storm. Some people say this is a bubble waiting to burst, but I think we’re in for another year of innovation, turmoil and strategic posturing. Here are five fearless predictions for 2008:

The year of social search – Google’s great, but it isn’t perfect. Its inherent weaknesses (the inability to search by date, for example) and the explosion of new online content spark interest in a new class of search engines that incorporate user recommendations. Projects like Mahalo and WikiaSearch are early proofs of concept, and new players pile on as prototypes show promise.

A social network privacy backlash – A scandal erupts in 2008 as news headlines tell of people being harassed, stalked and fired because of information revealed in their Facebook accounts. The lurid details are shocking, and politicians quickly move to call for government limitations on social network disclosure policies. The furor prompts Facebook, which is preparing for an IPO, to scramble to revamp its service and tighten its policies. The incident becomes the first great crisis of the Web 2.0 era.

Facebook‘s IPO – Facebook weathers the privacy crisis and stages a successful public offering that values the company at $25 billion and positions it as the number one suitor to Google’s market crown. A power struggle ensues as Facebook immediately leverages its market capital to buy up rivals and solidify its position as the most comprehensive social network. Google continues its acquisition binge (see below).

Blogosphere bustTechnorati reports that worldwide blogging activity is declining for the first time. This sparks a predictable round of tongue-clucking by people who said the whole thing was a fad all along. In fact, the blogosphere is simply entering a normal cycle of maturation in which early tire-kickers fall away. Meanwhile, more corporations launch blogs in 2008 than in any previous year.

Google buys Skype and Second LifeeBay has had enough of Skype and it sells the Internet phone service to Google for a bargain basement price of $750 million. Google is more than happy to make the purchase. It has new technology that delivers ads based upon words spoken in phone conversations. Google also moves to snap up Second Life, which has struggled to find a mission and a business model. Google immediately announces its intention to open up the Second Life program interfaces to support third-party applications and to integrate virtual worlds with its Google Earth and Google Maps products.

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