Technology predictions are always challenging. A detailed knowledge of the past and a thorough understanding of the industry are required to attempt to predict the future. Major financial upheavals are difficult to predict and can definitely shorten growth cycles.
We are going to review the social technology predictions we made at the end of 2007.
LinkedIn did not purchase Meetup but they were able to raise an additional round of $22.7 million on a valuation of just over $1 billion. There has not been a massive rush to develop applications for the platform but it is not stagnant either. Reviews are mixed about its platform. Given the ease of application development, we are surprised that LinkedIn is not more agile.
According to Compete, Plaxo was able to double its unique monthly visitors in 2008. An impressive number, but Plaxo still feels like it is “the other business social network.” Perhaps a change in management might help move this product forward.
Facebook made it through what will probably be its largest growth phase (with regards to new user registrations). We predicted Facebook would grow to 100 M+ users and it succeeded by enrolling roughly 120 million unique users.
MySpace looks like it had a rough year. The site’s traffic appears as if it is still being cannibalized by Facebook. Below is the most recent MySpace/Facebook Compete chart:
With its traffic numbers sliding so much, it is amazing that the MySpace big focus appears to be who will be named CEO of its music business.
Google’s OpenSocial has continued to grow and gain strength although it is still lagging Facebook’s application platform. OpenSocial has been strongly criticized for not living up to its “write once, distribute broadly” claims.
OpenId failed to deliver in 2008. The technology was adopted by several large players; however, there is a lot of criticism about the complexity of implementing OpenId.
Browser-based widgets have become the norm for just about every publisher on the Internet. They are primarily seen as additional channels for content distribution. We eventually expect to see a fairly sophisticated “affiliate” model work its way into the widget market.
RSS has continued to move forward. It is considered by many to the be the fastest growing social technology platform. Companies are finally starting to monetize their RSS feeds by inserting advertisements. Gawker Media claims to have seen a 300% gain in their RSS advertising revenue.
Twitter was an obvious success, as predicted. Twitter experienced explosive growth in 2008:
Tumblr also had an explosive year. To date, Compete has reported an annual traffic increase of 387%. We like and use the Tumblr services, but have been a bit disappointed by the evolution (or lack thereof) of the product.
Last year, we pleaded for Mozilla to integrate a messaging client into the browser and it appears as if they have made some progress with the 0.13 release of the Instantbird product. We have not had the opportunity to take Instantbird out for a test-drive, but we look forward to doing so.