Near misses and lost opportunities: Application development in 2011

My crystal ball proved mostly accurate, and that wasn't always the best news for developers and the tech industry

Playing pundit is never easy. Things move too quickly in modern life. For example, a few years ago, the experts warned that the euro was on the verge of eclipsing the U.S. dollar as the preferred currency of the global economy. Now they're saying Europe's current financial woes could trigger the collapse of the European Union itself. Should we believe them this time?

The tech world moves even faster. It's hard to tell what's coming in the next six months, let alone further ahead. But that doesn't stop countless columnists from weighing in each December with their predictions for the year to come, and I'm no exception.

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Longtime readers, however, will recall that I like to play this game with a difference: accountability! I don't let my past prognostications lie -- no, I like to drag them out and air them for all to see how right or wrong I was, and that's what I'm doing this week.

Looking back on my predictions for 2011, I see a vision of the future that was rather downbeat, even pessimistic. Unfortunately, it appears I was more right than wrong.

Java soldiered onward, despite struggles
I admit I got off to a bad start, blowing my first prediction completely. In the wake of the Apache Foundation quitting the Java Community Process in protest, I expected other parties to follow suit throughout 2011. I'm happy to report that this didn't happen; in fact, with work moving ahead on Java 8 and 9, the community seems stronger than ever. Mea culpa, though to be fair, I wasn't the only one -- Forrester predicted Oracle would dismantle the JCP altogether.

I also predicted Google would cozy up to the Apache Foundation in public support of a more open Java. That didn't really happen, either -- but maybe only because Oracle beat Google to the punch. In May, the database giant subpoenaed the Apache Foundation for documents it claims will prove that Google's Android OS willfully violates Oracle intellectual property. Since then, Google's relationship with the Apache Foundation has remained cordial, but not overtly chummy.

Otherwise, I thought Oracle's ongoing litigation against Google would have little direct impact on the smartphone market, and that proved true. The steady stream of new Android smartphones continues unabated.

Still, I thought all of the uncertainty about Java would be worrying for Google, spurring it to continue its work on Go, the company's new systems programming language. I said to expect "a quiet beta release" in 2011, and I was essentially right. Instead of one beta, Google issued several high-quality "release" versions throughout the year, and it now says it plans to ship Go 1.0 in early 2012.

Crunch time for mobile platforms
For Google's competitors in the mobile market, I predicted 2011 would signal the beginning of the shakeout, and that definitely seems to be true.

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