The Soon To Be Most Hyped Up Non-Stories of 2006

by James R. Stoup Dec 21, 2005

In looking back over the last few years I can see certain trends. Some good (hybrid cars), some bad (Britney Spears) and some just mind-numbingly stupid (reality TV shows, “You’re fired!”). But one trend that never seems to die is the “over optimistic tech analysis”. There are hundreds of them out there and I have scoured the net to bring you some of their hopeless dreams.

1. Linux on the desktop ~ keeping the dream alive for 8 years and counting
It is sad, in a way, to see this happen every year. First it starts off with Linux sites proclaiming that this year Linux on the desktop was really going to take off. This year Windows was going to finally be replaced in corporations and governments by the friendly little penguin. And as proof they offer tales of how the Central African Equatorial Democratic Republic of Zambibiaswana-Bisssay Leonitom is switching all of their government computers over to Linux. And if more proof is needed they readily point to the European country of Khazagovinasteinstaneniaovika and their speedy Linux adoption. However, as the year rolls on no real progress is ever reported.

This doesn’t stop Linux advocates from loudly proclaiming how superior their OS is and how it’s free though as in speech and not as in beer, even though no one really knows what that means. Soon the argument shifts over to other aspects of the fight and invariably someone mentions on a Linux site that maybe Linux isn’t being adopted very quickly because IT ISN"T EASY TO USE. This of course brings down the wrath of the penguin lovers down on the poor poster and he is drowned out in a flood of hate mail. His original post is never answered in any meaningful way, but that is ultimately irrelevant because by this time it is December and everybody gears up to do it all over again next year.

2. The iPod killer ~ uh, what we meant was, uh, uh, never mind
Anybody remember the original iPod killers? You know, the ones that were supposed to bury the original iPod? They had more features, bigger harddrives, uglier colors and they came at various price points. Oh how the tech pundits rejoiced! They were almost wetting themselves from the joy of it all. And they loudly proclaimed that Apple had made their last mistake in trying to sell an expensive MP3 player that didn’t even have a radio tuner! “Those fools!”, the pundits crowed, “they will be destroyed! It is just like the Mac all over again. Cheaper clones using Microsoft’s technology will quickly bury them.” And so, after making such proclamations, they sat back and watched the carnage.

Only, something odd seemed to be happening. The little player that could, seemed to be kicking the s*#t out of the competition. And tech writers the nation over shook their collective heads in disbelief at what they saw. It couldn’t be! The iPod didn’t have a RADIO TUNER! How could you possibly be successful without that? And it can’t record audio! And it doesn’t come in different colors! And it was expensive! Why? Why was it selling so well? They just couldn’t figure it out. And so the first year passed.

Suddenly it was the second year, and even fiercer than before, the pundits claimed that this was the year of the dreaded “iPod Killer” (scary music plays in background). This year MS and friends had finally gotten their act together. This year would be the year of the iPod’s downfall. And yet the iPod gained market-share, selling millions upon millions of units. Then, a new tactic was tried. Interoperability! The critics had a new buzz word! And so the whining began. First Creative, then Napster, soon everyone was decrying the “closed” system that Apple was forcing (those mean people at Apple), yes forcing I say, on the poor consumers of the world. Things only got worse when the ITMS came to town. Soon everyone was complaining that their systems didn’t work with Apple’s system and that just wasn’t fair. Boo-hoo they cried! It isn’t fair! Make them play fair, they wailed. And yet, oddly enough, at no point did anyone consider making a better product. No one tried to make an easier system or a more user-friendly one. No, they just complained that life wasn’t fair and that somehow they should be compensated for that. Man, reality’s a b*@$h isn’t it?

And so it went. Columnist after columnist declaring that any minute now something was going to come out and dethrone the iPod. It never happened. Fast forward to today. What is the newest iPod killer? Why cellphones of course! Expect to hear more of that in the coming year. “Cellphones will be the end of the iPod”, “Why carry 2 devices around when you could just use one?”, expect to see slogans like that in 2006. And when you do just sigh, smile and readjust your white earbuds.

3. Firefox will own %50 of the market ~ sorry but there are still to many morons out there
I want Firefox to win, I really do. It is a great browser (one of the best in my opinion). It is fast, powerful, easily expandable and fairly secure. It has already grabbed over %15 of the current market in the USA and can boast even higher stats in other countries. And in 2006 it will make gains, especially when Firefox 2.0 comes out. However, it won’t dominate the web browser market anytime soon. You see, when Firefox first came out only the real techies out there used it. That accounted for the first 3% of its gains. Soon, the slightly less powerful tech users jumped on board, that brought the total up to about 7%. And then, all of those techies told their wives, girlfriends, parents, brothers, sisters, friends and dentist about Firefox and a good deal of them switched, which brings us up to that %15 mark. However, until businesses start replacing IE with Firefox then it will be a slow and steady march to victory, not the blitzkrieg that many had hoped it would be. So, keep using Firefox but don’t be fooled when you start hearing talk of market share much past %20-25, anything else is just wishful thinking.

4. Google will take over the world ~ this is what keeps Bill Gates up at night, that and nightmares about arguing with Ballmer in a furniture store
Google isn’t going to take over the world. They aren’t going to release a set of web-based applications for free that will shut down Microsoft. They aren’t going to release their own browser. What they will do is make the number one search engine even better. What they will do is expand it to include books, music and movies. What they will do is expand Google earth until it becomes another standard. See, it is important to separate the likely from the “only in your dreams or Bill’s nightmares”. Google is a hot company right now, and I have no doubt that they leak stories sometimes just to screw with Microsoft’s head.

And it works, that is the amazing part. You only have to look at the unfinished, half-ass mess that the “Live Demo” was to see that Google has Microsoft reacting to every little rumor. And as far as Google is concerned that is just where they want them. If Microsoft ever settles down, picks a good strategy and the commits itself to it then Google might be in big trouble. But how much easier it is to keep MS fighting a hundred little battles at once. Get them to try and focus on operating systems and web browsers and mobil phones and games systems and online searching and online ads and office suites and open document formats and map software and live on demand online software and and and and a hundred other things at prevent MS from completely focusing on Google. Will Google do well in the coming year? Of course, they are a smart company with plenty of resources and they are driving towards something big. Will they shatter MS or otherwise drastically reduce their power? Not this year.


  • Right on!  Thanks for the laughs.  You’ll probably getted flamed, though.

    Bill Barstad had this to say on Dec 21, 2005 Posts: 7
  • You’re welcome. And don’t worry, I am wearing my flame retardant boxer shorts today, so it’s all good.

    James R. Stoup had this to say on Dec 21, 2005 Posts: 122
  • Where’s #‘s 5 through 10? Seriously, we’re so conditioned to “top 10” lists, it seems like the rest of this article is missing.

    Kris Thom White had this to say on Dec 21, 2005 Posts: 18
  • Man, everyone is a critic. Ok, you want #5-10? Here they are:

    Even more soon to be over hyped stories

    5. Michael Jackson turns out to really be an alien, mother ship picks him up, takes him back home. The 4 remaining people in the world who didn’t already suspect this are amazed.

    6. The Fox channel will continue to air really crappy reality TV shows. UPN will continue to be the “anti-Friends”, featuring prime time shows with no white people in them. CBS, NBC and ABC will all roll out new programs that are just bad knock-offs of NYPD Blue, ER and The Practice. Their news shows will continue to be unabashedly liberal while, at the same time, criticizing Fox News for being too conservative. No one will see the irony. In short, people will complain that most of what is on TV is really bad programming but no one will care enough to do anything about it. Oh, and Fear Factor will have gay, nazi, vegan, twins on the show because they have run out of untapped demographics.

    7. Coke and Pepsi will spend millions in R&D and advertising to get people to drink their newest zero calorie, no sugar, reduced caffeine soda. No one will buy it, despite marketing blitz that rivals presidential elections, due to the fact that it taste like brown food coloring in salty water. Coke and Pepsi are so perplexed at this that they will cancel product line and do the whole thing again in 8 years.

    8. Ford and GM will continue to lose money faster than their cars breakdown. So, in response to stiff competition from foreign brands they will promptly offer more rebates and increase advertising budget. When the companies finally go out business the two CEOs will be seen talking to each other about how maybe reliability and safety were probably bigger issues than they originally thought. They will be the only two people surprised at this.

    9. Indian tech support will have begun to get so big they will start outscoring their business to China. Thus, we will get even crappier support. Dell will continue to loose money due to horrid customer support though will be unable to figure out why.

    10. Microsoft creates a self aware AI. Sadly it is a schizophrenic, bi-polar, suicidal maniac who takes its own life. Bill doesn’t understand why, goes back to getting Vista ready for its 2012 launch date.

    There, are you happy now?

    James R. Stoup had this to say on Dec 21, 2005 Posts: 122
  • The Google segment was very insightful. I hadn’t considered the idea that Google was floating all of those ideas to get Microsoft flailing away at the market instead of creating a real strategy. You’ve really got something there and I haven’t read it anywhere else either.

    James Bailey had this to say on Dec 21, 2005 Posts: 7
  • James, this was my favorite article of the year of yours. Well done.

    But I have to beat Beeb to the punch because definitely #5 should be “Apple will wipe Microsoft off the map”. How many years have we been hearing that one now?! I hate to burst the bubble (given there is a week left!) for the ever optimisitic Apple fans but it wont happen again this year. iWork didn’t do it. Mac mini didn’t do it. Tiger didn’t do it. And Intel Macs won’t do it next year.

    The reasons are a conglomeration of the ones you’ve given for the other four - particularly the Firefox ones and the corporate fixation on MS.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Dec 21, 2005 Posts: 1209
  • That was really funny James. I laughed a lot. Especially at numbers 5 to 10.

    Oh, and the Google one was spot on. I love it when people say something like, “Microsoft better get it’s act together or Google will crush them.” WTF. Microsoft doesn’t even make the same products as Google does! All Google does is cache and catagorize stuff for searching, Microsoft can’t even compete with their MSN search, and Google couldn’t compete with a Google OS.

    And linux for the desktop? puhleez, that’ll never happen. I’ve never tried compiling a linux app for a specific distro, but I bet it’s hell.

    Oh, and I loved your bit about the iPod killers. I hate radio so much.

    shrimpdesign had this to say on Dec 22, 2005 Posts: 16
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