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Perils and Joy of Technology Predictions

I can empathize with Robert Cringely

One of the most enthralling experiences of a tech blogger is when a non-obvious prediction comes true. Similarly, most dejected feeling comes when a prediction goes horribly wrong.

So, I can empathize with Robert Cringely when he says:

That’s what I expect will be my epitaph: “He was either brilliant or stupid.”

If you read this NYT story about HP CEO Léo Apotheker and then read this post written in February, 2011 you will understand why he is brilliant.

I haven’t had any such luck but I have my shares of stupidity. Here are 3 examples:

Prediction about Google App Engine

In two separate blog post I had claimed that Google App Engine is potentially disruptive:

  1. Microsoft says – Cloud Does Not Require Change In Programming Model (Oct, 2009)
  2. Cloud Computing Service – Amazon Ec2 vs. Google GAE (Nov, 2009)

It is almost 2 years since I made that prediction and the trend during the elapsed time does not seem to support my hypothesis. In fact GAE seem to be slowly morphing into something less and less disruptive. They have done away with the CPU pricing where one transaction is the minimum unit. They have also introduced SQL.

Will iPad succeed?

When iPad was released in Mar 2010, I had hinted that iPad may not be a great success.

How wrong can one be? Not only has it been a success but even today, after one and a half years, there is no competitor in sight.

Verticalization of Mobile Industry

In August, 2011 in the post Google-Motorola : Microsoft-Nokia : Palm-HP – Do You See A Pattern I had claimed that mobile industry is getting vertically organized. Takeover of Palm by HP was one of the evidence supporting my argument.

What happens after I write this post? Apotheker decides to drop the whole of PC and mobile business.

However, I still may have a chance to redeem myself as Apotheker may not be around for long.

Lessons learned

When you are trying to make a trend prediction, do not …

…get swayed by your personal liking – disliking. I had really loved GAE

…underestimate the power of design

…expect change to happen very fast

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting
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