Here it is; the end of 2013. It was the year that Apple finally took it on the chin, the Chromebook conquered both laptops and tablets, and Apple finally delivered the long-awaited iTV. The PC market held its own and MOOCs swept the campus. Oops. Wait a minute. None of those events occurred. They were simply the fevered imaginings of pundits at the end of 2012 predicting (often with smug certainty) the course of the technology industry in 2013.
With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to see how wrong they were. Yet the turning of 2013 to 2014 will no doubt find you sifting through one confident proclamation after another about the year ahead. Consider this a reminder of how turbulent a year in technology can be.
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Here are eight of the worst predictions of 2013 -- and two that hit the mark.
Apple will launch iTV
Has any Apple-related rumor reappeared more often than the imminent shipment of iTV? Probably not, and for some reason analysts, particularly Piper Jafray's Gene Munster, keep on believing. To be fair, Munster, who is actually a good analyst, had plenty of company, one reason being a section in "Jobs," the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Issacson, in which the man is quoted thusly:
"I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson. "It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud."
But Jobs was known to toss out lots of ideas to see what might stick and this one didn't. InfoWorld's Galen Gruman blew away this particular fantasy recently, saying, "Why would Apple do an iTV? There are plenty of so-called smart TVs on the market, none doing well." After all, for $100 you can buy a Roku box and stream all you want. And the fact remains: iTV simply does not exist.
Chromebooks will come on strong
Some people will never give up on the idea of what we used to call a thin client. Now we call it a Chromebook. Plenty of pundits (including Tim Bajarin, writing in Time) were sure this latest incarnation of thin-client computing was going to be a big success. It wasn't. Like the netbook before it, the Chromebook failed to give users a reason to buy it instead of a real laptop or an iOS or Android tablet.
One reason Chromebooks lifted off in the blogosphere is the unreasoning disdain for anything that Microsoft does, especially if it begins with "W." Members of the pundit class love to heap scorn on Microsoft, and what better implement than a device that doesn't use Windows or run Office.
Here's the truth, according to IDC analyst Rajani Singh, writing in November: "Chromebooks from any vendor except Samsung have not fared particularly well. Even with Samsung's products, they're primarily only having an impact on K-12 education in the U.S. -- as a replacement for aging netbooks."
And what's worth crowing about the next "netbook-killer"?