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by Josh Greenfield
Following the New Year, it started to feel like we were the only blog not making predictions about the year ahead. Rather than continuing to feel so alone I figured, better late than never. It was my also my opportunity to give Google Moderator a try. I reached out to some of our staff writers, posted some topic questions, and asked for contributions. Below is a bit of what we came up with. To see the full picture, check out our Moderator discussion. You can come to your own conclusions about Google Moderator!
What does Twitter’s ’09 year look like?
Mike Moran: Twitter is in that age-old dilemma of having developed a large following with no known way to make any money. Given the difficulties in raising money in 2009, it’s possible that Twitter will be acquired by an existing social network player, but I think it will raise money, even in these difficult times, and continue to buy time to develop a business model. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Twitter acquired, but it might be harder for the acquiring company to come up with the cash than it is for Twitter to get some additional venture capital. I hope they find a business model, but I keep scratching my head over what it is.
Eva Lyford: Twitter has to monetize in 2009, and likely will do so by September. I’m expecting something unique and unusual, simply because 1) twitter is in the catbird position in this micro-blogging/statusing/chat space and 2) the company DNA via Evan Williams, coming in from his blogger success, is such that money was not been the prime driver as it is for some innovations. Blogger became the darling of bloggers by making blog monetization easy; I expect Twitter will have some scenario available for Twitterers to monetize their Tweetstream in a way that benefits Twitter and the Twitterer (and hopefully the Twitteree). I’ll be watching the “Suggested Users” space–that seems like one place that could quickly become a for-pay service.
What will become of Yahoo!?
Mike Moran: I wish this question was, “What should become of Yahoo!?” What will become of Yahoo! is that Microsoft will buy all or part of it. What Yahoo! ought to do is try to find some way to go private so that it isn’t constantly bedeviled by investors disappointed because Yahoo! isn’t Google. Nobody else is Google either, but for some reason Yahoo!’s expectations have always been higher than they should be. I think that Yahoo! could still be a very successful independent company if someone was willing to buy and hold. But I don’t think Microsoft is the right buyer. The fact that they might buy search without the rest of Yahoo! shows me that they don’t know what parts of Yahoo! really have value–it’s everything but search that has the most value, although Yahoo! Search is certainly valuable, too.
Josh Greenfield: If the price of Yahoo!’s stock continues to head south, I see a private equity firm coming in and snatching it up. Microsoft is only the obvious buyer because they have cash and have offered, but what good will making two slow, thin businesses one do? Make one bigger, slower business? The private equity firm will sell Search, the directory, and Zimbra to Microsoft, and sell the rest of everything.yahoo.com piece by piece to the highest bidder.
What phone and search market share changes do you see?
Mike Moran: I don’t think that phone market share will change all that much unless a G2 phone comes out on a bigger carrier than T-Mobile. Blackberry and Apple have shown us what they’ve got, and while they have great technology, I think it’s the other players that will dramatically lose share and these three phone players will grow slowly.
Microsoft has been gaining share in search, with Yahoo! losing. I think that somehow Microsoft will eventually acquire Yahoo! or its search business and so dramatically gain share in 2009. I don’t think that any of this will help Microsoft in the long run, however, because they need to be moving on to the next thing rather than re-fighting the battle of the ’90s.
Eva Lyford: As much as I frowned when Apple partnered with AT&T for the iPhone, it was a decision that made sense. Apple needed unfettered space in which to create the device and from my time at the phone company I know they prefer to focus on the common carriage. In terms of subscribers, I think the late-adopters (you know who you are, honey) and the cost-conscious are starting to see a penalty for not being on the iPhone. In 2009, I expect that the Google Phone will become a novelty hacker’s device – and a fun one at that – but the data phone market will be divided between Apple and Blackberry. The holiday season next year will likely see improvements in the Storm’s media handling and a less battery intensive iPhone. I expect this is the year these players refine their offerings rather than rolling out something new and shiny.
What will happen to digital ad spend? What will show the highest growth?
Mike Moran: I believe that digital ad spend will be flat in 2009, but that will look good compared to everything else, which will be down precipitously. I heard someone (don’t know who) say “Flat is the new up.” The highest growth will probably be in social media, just because it starts from such a small base today. E-mail, search, and other more entrenched methods won’t show the same growth because they already have so much spending associated with them.
Josh Greenfield: Digital ad spend is going to make a dramatic jump in ’09. Companies aren’t going to be able to go after big time TV because their budgets are going to get slashed. I just can’t figure out how marketers are going to make commitments to TV buyers. Social media seems like the most exciting but I end up buying it when I buy remnant anyway and I think companies might catch on to that. The speed, precision, and measurable return that search offers is going to make it the big winner in ’09 with Network Display adverts coming in a close second.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed and I hope that no matter what was predicted above, 2009 is a great year.