What won’t happen in 2009 – and what might

This month’s Carnival of Journalism looks forward to new media developments in the coming year. Here are my no doubt misguided and naive predictions:

2009 will not be the year of the mobile web

Every year we make end of year predictions that the coming year will finally see the mobile web hit the mainstream. In many ways, it already has. But any expectations of there being some significant spread in 2009 will be scuppered by the credit crunch: users will be increasingly reluctant to spend money on a smart phone as the purse strings tighten. We’re not all going to be carrying around iPhones.

On the plus side, as a result of that slowdown we can expect mobile service providers to become more competitive in their data rates and packages, so that those who do have smart phones will have more reason to take out a mobile web package.

We can also expect to see increasing numbers of retailers offering free wifi to attract customers, as Pret A Manger have done, or government investment in wifi clouds to stimulate growth. So those who do access the web on the move – not just mobile phones but laptops and ipods – could start to do so more.

2009 will not be the year of the semantic web

The semantic web holds enormous promise for journalism, but it’s still early days and even the best products are far from mass market. I don’t expect that to change any time soon. However…

In 2009 Google will look more vulnerable than ever

Google has been fiddling with its successful formula, trying to keep users within its verticals and getting greedy for user data. It is weakest on local search and semantic search and both those areas should see a lot of development in 2009. In 2010, however, Google will probably simply buy the best competitors.

2009 will see social media getting lean – and mean

Social media startups who do not want to join Pownce on the scrapheap will stop developing extra features, trim others, and focus on their core business. Oh, and they’ll be under increasing pressure to actually start coming up with business models too, which means more advertising (if they can sell it), more e-commerce, and less stuff for free. All of which will mean less innovation, fewer users and startups without deep pockets joining Pownce on the scrapheap.

2009 will see a lot of thinking and little action

All those redundant journalists, publishers, developers, and estate agents will have plenty of time to reflect on how their industries are changing, to play around with online tools, meet people online and offline, and come up with ideas on where to go next.

They’ll be doing this in an environment where funds are beginning to appear that enable them to act on those. In the UK at least there is £1billion from NESTA, £50m from 4iP, £1m from the Scottish government and various other pots of money aimed at maintaining economic growth.

So by 2010, when the bids have been put in, funds released, and pilots completed, we should see some very interesting new media indeed.

11 thoughts on “What won’t happen in 2009 – and what might

  1. Jack Lail

    It’s funny thinking of Google as vulnerable, but it seems a bit unfocused as its execs try to figure out how to take their advertising juggernaut to the next level. The problem with Google buying the best competitors is that often means the end of innovation at those enterprises. Google = GM 20 years from now?

  2. Doug Fisher

    I agree that it’s going to be a rough go on the mobile Web because of the economics.

    But I think we’ll also see the inexorable doubling the technology every 18 months or so. So once the economic logjam does break …

    In other words, media houses have another one of those small windows in which to get their acts together. Remind you of 2001-04 before the social Web started to explode?

  3. Ben Werdmuller

    I think a lot of these things are set to converge: mobile web, local search, social media forced to concentrate on features beyond profiles and friendships. (I remain completely dubious about the semantic web.)

    Basically, what’s more social than a community? Communities are very often locally based, and therefore are the kinds of things you need to be able to tap into while actually out and about. The iPhone isn’t the be all and end all, and I certainly agree with you about the effect the crunch will have, but you can expect certain features (eg GPS) creeping into much cheaper phones over the next year, partially because of things like Android. It just takes mobile developers to widen their horizons a little.

  4. paulbradshaw

    Thanks. I certainly think local will be very very important, both because of GPS and because of the increasing pressure on local publishers. They are going to have to get very creative very quickly.

  5. Brenda Rogers

    It will be interesting what will happen in 2009, who knew we would all be forced to be lean with everything we do. I truly believe it is good for everyone to tighten the belt and be more conservative with our pocket books. But I also believe we will all survive. Perhaps with a little dirt on our faces, but with a lot of pride.

  6. Eric

    In 2009 (and 2010), Google will remain focused on the user/visitor/consumer/reader/outside world and addressing the needs of those groups.

    This will continue to offend journalists, who will maintain tight focus on the journalism industry and other journalists.

    Google will have ups and downs, but will not be forced to deliver its traditional product only two days a week.

  7. Matt Anderson

    Broadly you are right Paul. But I think that what will happen is more people will be pushed online for their news as they cut back on house hold bills.

    A newspaper is a luxury, especially as you can get the content online for free.

    2009 the year of online news for young and old.

  8. Kitchen Design

    Paul, mobile web in 2009 wont spread like a brush fire, but more and more developers are seeing a huge potential in mobile browsing. As a site op I look at my traffic sources religiously everyday; on an weekly overview I see a 40% increase in mobile web browser traffic. My niche is not related at all to mobile/cell phone market at all. So maybe 2009 wont be the turning point for mobile browsing. My prediction is that google will find a great way of capitalizing further on mobile browsing and serve is the lovely ads we have all been accustomed to.

  9. Pingback: The Semantic Web, Web 3.0 - Where is the Web Going? | Mike McCready

  10. Pingback: December Carnival of Journalism – Positive Predictions for Next Year « DigiDave – Journalism is a Process, Not a Product

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