The explosion Internet stocks? The semi-retirement of Andy Grove? A new release of Adobe Illustrator (8.0) that can preserve layers of graphics or text when exporting to PhotoShop, ImageReady, or After Effects? Who would have thought back in January that 1998 would hold so many earth-shattering surprises?
The high-tech industry in 1998 firmly established its position as the driving force behind economies and nations. The U.S. economy and equities markets continued to surge as a result of booming growth in Silicon Valley. Asia, meanwhile, experienced both ends of the digital whipsaw. National collapse was partly blamed on excess capacity for high-tech manufacturing. The cure prescribed for these nations, however, has been increased investment in computer systems.
It was a year of new frontiers. The strongest competitor to Microsoft in years emerged, and it turned out to be a loosely knit organization peddling free software. Netscape tried to firmly establish itself as a media company and soon afterward sold out. Thousands were laid off in Silicon Valley, but the tri-county area turned out to be the national center of job growth. And, on a personal note, I learned that a guy who beat me up in third grade and one of America's premier Rod Stewart imitators both curtailed their ordinary schedules to become day traders.
Think of it: In any previous year, getting an email from one someone named Betty Rubble that reads "Ecstasy--The Seduction Audio Cassette Tape! YES IT CAN!" would not be a daily event.
But enough about the past. Here are our leading predictions for 1999:
Amazon.com's efforts to diversify into deli meats and exotic animal parts will fail miserably. The company's increased financial losses, however, will boost the stock price past $500.
Compaq Computer will announce it will begin to sell computers directly over the Web. Chief executive Eckhard Pfeiffer will hold a press conference in New York during the summer to announce that Compaq will begin to take Dell on by selling PCs directly to consumers. To save money, Pfeiffer will use the slides from last year's presentation, but no one will notice. Speaking of Dell?
Michael Dell will pick someone to dedicate Direct from Dell--Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry to. In one of the few, but odder, personal insights into the soul of Michael Dell, he has released advanced copies of his upcoming autobiography centering on his personal life and business philosophy. At the moment, the dedication is blank.
The donut graph will replace the pie graph in company presentations.
Gartner Group will predict: "Home networking, the convergence of the PCs and TV and increased bandwidth will change personal technology in the next century, but maybe they won't."
CORBA will leave ORBA to live with XML. Similarly, Celeron the hunchback will wage war with the forces of Xeon.
"Uh," "fetid," and "whatever" will replace "extreme," "inflection point," and "change agent" as choice buzzwords for cutting-edge marketers.
Laika the Space Dog's death will be inadvertently pronounced on the Internet. The Ham scandal will be a follow to the snafu that occurred in June when the Associated Press mistakenly reported that Bob Hope had died. The national press will have egg on its face because it will be revealed that the Laika died in the early '70s.
Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks will start in When Harry Met Sally in the Gigabit Ethernet Alliance.
3Com will make a version of the PalmPilot with an attached Water Pik.