Here’s what we’re calling our Bonus Set of Predictions:
1. The media landscape will change in 2018. We got some details wrong, very wrong. We expected the AT&T-Time Warner deal would not go through (it did, despite a DOJ lawsuit) and we expected the Sinclair Broadcasting purchase of Tribune Media to get approved (it did not). We got one deal right: Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s TV and movie studios (but not Fox News, Fox Sports and Fox TV channel). The media world changed in another way, thanks to Netflix, which receives a lot of coverage, attention and awards. We expect more consolidation in the media world, more attention to Netflix and other streaming services, and more layoffs and closings among local media. Grade: B-.
2. Artificial Intelligence and robotics, now interconnected, will continue to be “hot.” We got this right. A.I. and robotics got a lot of attention in 2018, and we expect that to continue in 2019 and beyond, including scare stories about a “robocalypse” in which A.I.-enabled robots replace human workers as well as more-reasoned articles that debunk the scare stories. We’re not as worried because there we think it will open other types of jobs, and that implementing A.I. seems inevitable because the potential benefits could be so significant. Grade: A.
3. Innovation often will come via business models. We expected, for example, that upscale restaurants with a delivery-only business model (relying on mobile-ordering apps) would be a bigger trend than it turned out to be. There was some coverage of that sort of innovation – not so much of technology but in the use of technology – but it wasn’t a top story. Grade: C.
4. Bitcoin and blockchain is hitting it big time. This was our surest best of any of our 2018 predictions. We do expect more bumps in the road for bitcoin and blockchain, but overall, it will continue in 2019. Grade: A.
5. Is the internet dying? There have been articles about the internet dying, including in the October issue of Wired. But it really wasn’t a “thing” in 2018. Grade: C-.
6. The first amendment becomes a battle-ground issue. We got this wrong. Grade: F.
7. Millennials’ impact will change how companies market products and services. Millennials are having an impact on products and services but there wasn’t as much coverage of it as we had expected. The layouts of newly built homes is changing, for example, but it’s not entirely clear that the reason is due to millennials (it could be because of boomers, too). Overall we overstated the amount of news coverage this would generate in 2018. Grade: C-.
8. Smart-Home automation will gain acceptance but still a niche offering. We said the biggest aspect would be intelligent personal assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Overall, we were on target for this. Grade: B+.
9. The ranks of unicorn startups will grow but expect a backlash because unicorns are difficult to sustain. We didn’t see the term “unicorn” as much as we expected but in October, there was a big splash that Uber’s bankers value the company at $120 billion. We did see more articles about unrest in Silicon Valley between employees at startups and regular people who live there — so that’s something of a backlash. We continue to see the challenge as stated by New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo is right when he said, a continued threat for startups is that just “fewer than 1 percent … end up as $1 billion companies” and that the Frightful Five (Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft) can out-pay key employees (an issue in the A.I. space), out maneuver or just invest in startups and co-opt them. Grade: C.
10. Religious nonprofits will be able to publicly make political endorsements, but doing so will change how they are perceived. We got this wrong for 2018. However, it may be a problem down the road, particularly with people who oppose the political endorsements made by a particular religious nonprofit.