My guesses at what some of the top web stories will be in 2006. Naturally, the real top 10 stories of 2006 will probably be ones that are impossible to predict, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to try. These predictions are in no particular order:
1. RSS will become two-way with the help of Simple Sharing Extensions from Microsoft. This will open up a whole new set of features in our favorite web applications, as well as pave the ground for a plethora of new applications. A related and equally large story is Microsoft becoming a big player in the newer web technologies with their Live platform.
2. Social news site Digg will expand into other content areas and media types and then will be acquired. Digg is a useful site that is already profitable just from ads, and they’re not taking full advantage of what their system and community can do. Expanding into other content areas will grow their userbase and revenues, and they’ll be acquired by a major news player or portal.
4. Face-recognition photo application Riya will be acquired by a major player. Even though the early rumors didn’t turn out to be true, Riya will execute well enough on their plan that they will be very compelling for one of the top web companies to pass up. Another possible acquisition target would be the Robot Co-Op and their fun sites 43things.com, 43places.com, 43people.com, and AllConsuming.net.
5. Some ecommerce shopping applications using the more recent advancements in social web technologies will be developed and will succeed. There hasn’t been a ton of traction in the ecommerce world for tagging, blogging, social networking, ajax, and other newer technologies. These tools are going to break out of the “geek” world and start to hit other industries, and shopping is naturally one where there is money involved, so it will be attractive.
6. Google Analytics will again drop the hammer on the web analytics industry. After quietly humming along for half of 2006, Google will release new features that will put them on par with all the top web applications, and provide integration with other Google applications that make it an even more compelling offering.
7. A forward thinking company will build technology to support transparency, efficiency, and relationships in the online advertising business. The online advertising industry needs to break out of exclusive relationships, deceptive practices, and closed-walled worlds to provide a true advertising marketplace that uses technology to improve efficiency and confidence from all parties.
8. Microsoft will launch a contextual advertising network that will either be huge, or fail miserably. Microsoft will use it’s Adcenter advertisers to power a contextual competitor to Adsense and YPN. It will either be a big success from capitalizing on what Adsense and YPN are doing wrong, or it will lack advertisers and publishers will not want to support Microsoft causing it to fail.
9. Two to three new startups will be so cool and successful they will make the heroes of 2005 like Flickr and del.icio.us seem small and insignificant. Flickr and del.icio.us had the buzz, but in monetary terms they were pretty small acquisitions by Yahoo, and neither is really a game-changing application. 2006 will have some game-changers.
10. The venture capital investments and acquisition bubble will heat up even more, then deflate in the 2nd half of 2006 after a number of companies fail.. There has been a lot of venture capital activity in 2005, and not all of these companies will succeed in their goals to make viable business models from their cool applications or get acquired. There’s only so much acquisition the big players can do, and so many of the applications don’t look too close to a viable business model. After a few of them go down in flames, the investments will cool off and things will be a bit more sane.