Fortune IT predictions for '05 are right on for REALNEO and TOPSOIL

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 01/08/2005 - 19:52.

Fortune IT columnist Kirkpatrick predicts for 2005 exactly what is the foundation upon which REALNEO is aleady built, with TOPSOIL... highlights:

  • More "bottom-up" transference of power—much more - long-term consequences will be vast, especially in the developing world. Technology is suddenly giving people who've had no voice at all a surprisingly powerful one. I'm not sure that I'd want to be a dictator these days.
  • This power shift is revolutionizing the software industry. Open-source software is a "bottom-up"; technology that is gaining acceptance among business clients and even consumers. We now know that big companies aren't the only ones that can create top-quality software.
  • Consumers who discover that Firefox is a great product are now more comfortable with the concept of open-source software in general.

Here are Fortune's complete IT predictions, worth knowing:

What's Ahead for Tech Next Year?

Bloggers
will be an integral part of the nation's discourse, open-source
software will give consumers more options, and outsourcing will go
mainstream.

DAVID KIRKPATRICK - FORTUNE - Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Not to brag, but my top prediction for technology in 2004 was on the money: Power did shift away from corporations and giant institutions toward individuals and smaller, more entrepreneurial companies. Just in the political arena alone, witness Howard Dean's Internet grassroots campaign, bloggers rubbing shoulders with TV anchors at the conventions, and e-mail solicitations collecting millions of dollars from small donations. And, of course, who can forgot how the blogosphere's critique of a "60 Minutes" report undid Dan Rather.

My prediction for 2005? "bottom-up" transference of power—much more. The long-term consequences are still unknown, but it's safe to say that they will be vast, especially in the developing world. Technology is suddenly giving people who've had no voice at all a surprisingly powerful one. I'm not sure that I'd want to be a dictator these days. Ukrainians, protesting their presidential election results, show us just how effective technology can be in organizing political movements. With that said, I'll reprise my last year's prediction. Who knows, many of you may even have your own blogs by 2006.

This power shift is also revolutionizing the software industry. Open-source software is a "bottom-up" technology that is gaining acceptance among business clients and even consumers. We now know that big companies aren't the only ones that can create top-quality software. Look at what happened when people, ordinary people, became upset with security problems in Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser. Some (who were programmers) went and wrote their own open-source browser, called Firefox. And many, many others decided to download the free product. It's taking off like, well, wildfire. Explorer's share of the global browser market is already down substantially, by some counts to below 90%. And that's in a business where it had a near-monopoly only a year or so ago.

But worse, from Microsoft's perspective, is that consumers who discover that Firefox is a great product are now more comfortable with the concept of open-source software in general. Up until now, their leeriness about this new weird technology made it hard to predict how much it would cut into Microsoft's consumer business. Now we know. And I predict that Firefox will continue to outpace expectations in 2005, gaining at least another 5 to 10 percentage points of the browser market share.

Here are some of my other predictions for technology trends we'll hear about in 2005:

· Sun emerges as a major x86 player. Its alliance with AMD is powerful and that will likely lead to market-share inroads for inexpensive servers.

· AMD rocks. It will stay ahead of Intel on critical technologies, further reviving its reputation. This is a powerful competitive advantage for a smallish company.

· Intel steadies. Just because AMD does well next year, doesn't mean Intel won't, too. Paul Otellini will take charge soon. And though Intel may not be able to make super-cool (in temperature), super-fast, multi-processor chips as elegantly as AMD can, its production capacity is much larger than AMD's—or anyone else's, for that matter.

· Apple introduces iPhone. Well, I certainly would, if I were Steve Jobs. It would probably be the best one you've ever seen, with impressive integration with your Mac or PC.

· Cisco thrives. It's just about the only big tech company out there that doesn't seem to face any major near-term challenges. Networks will continue to gain importance, even if corporations don't invest in other aspects of their IT infrastructure.

· Carly leaves HP. Am I joking? Not sure. But I am sure George Bush would love to see her in his administration. Secretary Fiorina? The alternate prediction: HP shows steadily improving financial results.

· Tech seeks sales beyond India and China. Sure those are great markets, but so are populous countries like Egypt, Mexico, Malaysia, etc. That's the next big source of tech spending.

· Outsourcing won't be a dirty word. Companies will routinely think globally about every aspect of their needs, including people. On second thought, Lou Dobbs will probably work hard to keep that from being an accurate prediction.

· Mergers become even more common. Some candidates for takeover: Gateway and BEA Systems. Mercury Interactive is another possibility. So could any of the business intelligence software companies, such as Cognos and Business Objects. SAS, the daddy of the business intelligence software industry, remains private and might even be an acquirer.

The more I think about tech's potential to improve our lives, the more optimistic I become. So let's all think about it a lot. And also, let's pray for peace.

Questions? Comments? E-mail them to me at dkirkpatrick@fortunemail.