It might be Christmas Eve, but the blogs are still abuzz--mostly with speculation about the big changes in the tech scene that we may or may not be seeing 2007. Over the past couple of days, momentum has been building on a number of stories that are starting to paint what might be one of the first concrete trends we see for '07. Will the coming year be the year of the "killer," the year when big and not-so-big companies join forces to try and topple the products that seem to have a stranglehold on certain niches of the tech market?
It all sounds very Justice League, doesn't it? (Or Aqua Teen Hunger Force, depending on your generational affiliation.)
Most notably, there was yesterday's announcement, reported in The Times and brought into the blogosphere by TechCrunch, that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has decided to take on the megaliths of search with a new product called Wikiasari. The search engine, a new arm of Wales' Wikia product line, is slated for a launch next year, possibly as early as the first quarter. Wales has already been vocal about wanting to take on some of Google's most noticeable flaws--in particular, the tendency for useless or spam-ridden results to pop up.
Wales has also already had to deny a whole bunch of rumors, most notably that Wikiasari is a partnership with Amazon--Amazon recently pumped a lot of money into Wikia, but there is no concrete correlation to the new search engine. Additionally, an alleged "exclusive screenshot" posted on TechCrunch has been dispelled by Wales as inaccurate.
But Jimmy Wales isn't the only Web bigwig who's thinking of encroaching into other tech scions' territories. Another "coming in '07" story that's been getting some major blog buzz these days has been The Venice Project, which is aiming to take a hit at YouTube and which has generated quite a bit of hype since a highly restricted beta was launched a few weeks back.. It's a collaboration between Skype and Kazaa co-founders Niklas Zenstromm and Janus Friis, to bring a peer-to-peer model to the Web video experience and possibly (if the speculation is to be believed) pose the biggest threat yet to the YouTube juggernaut.
To complicate matters even further, broadcast TV networks are apparently plotting their own YouTube challenge. So it could easily be a three-way fight, or a four-way fight, or maybe not a fight at all.
So will 2007 be the year of the "killer?" If Microsoft's Zune, the much-touted "iPod killer," is any indicator, endeavors like Wikiasari and the Venice Project may encounter a tough road ahead. But then again, a fair number of us haven't given up on the Zune yet. In this age of two-year-old betas (hello, Gmail) and total facelifts (can you say "Blogger?") it's tough to dismiss a product in its 1.0 phase. Nevertheless, I'm going to make a prediction: If '07 continues to produce alleged YouTube killers, Google killers, and what-have-you, I'm guessing that by this time next year, "______ killer" will make us cringe just like the term "2.0" had started to skeeve us after a few months of heavy usage over the course of '06.