Predictions 3.0: The biggest headlines of 2009

Yes, it's time again for Cringely to go out on a limb and start sawing. Here are his key predictions for the coming year in tech.

As regular Cringe readers will remember, I predicted a year ago that Microsoft would try (and fail) to buy Yahoo, Twitter would emerge as a social networking darling, Barack Obama would be elected president of the United States, and hurling footwear at lame duck(ing) presidents would become the next big fad in the Middle East.

Don't remember that? It's because it didn't happen. Hardly anything I predicted last year came true, though I came close on a few.

But I'm not going to let a little thing like that stop me from doing it again. With the help of noted seer Swami al Sal-ami and a deck of Tarot cards from the Golden Ferret Casino and Debt Service Agency, I looked deeply into the future of the tech industry for 2009. Here's what I saw.

Yahoo serious. The troubled No. 2 search site will name Jerry Yang's successor, and it will be someone from outside the Yahoo sphere but inside the tech industry. He/she/it will immediately do a deal with Microsoft for some slice of the Yahoo search advertising business, vaulting MSN's market share from execrable to merely negligible. The rest of Yahoo will slowly fade into the memory vault alongside Excite, Lycos, and Gary Coleman.

Apple cored. Because Apple shares drop 10 points every time he sneezes, Steve Jobs will emulate his old rival Bill Gates and announce his retirement date (safely in the future, of course) as well as a succession plan for that tragic day. One more thing: He'll also announce he's discovered the secret of immortality.

Unnatural cellular growth. The Big Four mobile companies will become the Big Three. The swallowers: AT&T or Verizon. The swallowees: Sprint Nextel or T-Mobile. The name will change, but the coverage and prices will remain just as lousy as before.

Google bloat. Google will quietly shutter some of its less popular services. No one will notice because it will launch 3,247 new ones.

Acquired tastes. Digg will buy Mashable. Twitter will buy Digg. Facebook will buy Twitter. Google will buy Facebook. TechCrunch's Michael Arrington and AllThingsD's Kara Swisher will fight over who said it was going to happen first. They will both be wrong.

Pyrrhic defeats. SCO will continue its litigious ways but will steal a page from the RIAA manual and sue people who are almost completely unable to fight back. Next up: Coma victims who love Linux.

Blog overload. More than one out of five blogs will stop publishing this year. No one but their authors will notice.

The art form formerly know as print. Several print publications will cease to be or move entirely online this year. Most of their readers will be too busy fighting with each other in the comments fields to notice.

Happy returns. HD-DVD will make a huge comeback this year. Also on the comeback trail: the Replay DVR, the VCR, 8-tracks, and Cyndi Lauper's career.

Is it News Years Eve yet? I think I'm already hung over.

What do you think will happen in '09? Post your prognostications below or e-mail them to Cringe (at) Infoworld (dot) com.


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