The Races Are On for 2012
2nd February 2012 · 0 Comments
Now that we’ve rapidly clicked off one month of 2012, what lies ahead for the remainder of the year? SXSWi fever is already building here in Austin; there will be too much to see and do, no matter what your particular interest, and it’s not too soon to be strategizing your schedule.
Many deals continue to flow my way, and I’ve come up with a list of story lines that I believe will rise in the months ahead:
1. It’s all about Facebook. The looming IPO will only add more thrust to the rocket ship that is Facebook. I’ve come to appreciate how effective it has developed as an advertising platform; every ad I see is very much on target, and Fb clearly knows how to use all the information it has on me. I’ve also come to appreciate the value of groups. The 1SS class where I mentor at the University of Texas is essentially coordinated from a Fb group. If you’re not yet a Fb user, you will be. And, if you’ve got a business that participates in that ecosystem, you should have a really great year.
2. Facebook security will become a bigger issue. My password was recently hacked, and Fb did a great job detecting that I was not the person in Brazil trying to log in with my credentials. No harm done thanks to quick action; but the opportunity for evil will always follow the opportunity for good, and we’ll see ever more creative ways for hackers to misbehave in this medium.
3. In general this will be a year where mobile security becomes a major concern. Articles I have read of late imply that it’s pretty easy for the wrong people to listen to your calls and grab data from your smart phone actions. I’ve seen a number of business plans specifically addressing this problem, and they could not be more timely.
4. This should also be the moment for the mobile wallet to get wrapped in pigskin and achieve critical mass. I’m not sure which technology will prevail, or which mobile provider, or which tech company specializing in this area, but I have to think we’ll be transacting more with our mobile devices than with our Benjamins or cards when the next Holiday shopping season is upon us.
5. Visual information will continue to blossom. I am intrigued by the rapid rise of Instagram and Pinterest and how much they can convey about your interests and the depth of the impressions you can gather from those sites. And, think of the advancing technology of digital photography. Not only are your smart phones getting more and more powerful camera features, but look a the rise of the new micro 4/3 cameras from Sony, Nikon and Olympus where a big chip sits behind interchangeable lenses and gives you much of the oomph of a full-scale DSLR in a pocket-able form factor. Smile, you’ll always be on camera from some angle.
6. Government actions and legal issues in general will become more and more important for players in our industry. “Slim” Dotcom (Wouldn’t that be an even more ironic name?) and his Megaupload mark just the beginning of the criminal sanctions to come as governments ratchet up enforcement of intellectual property rules. We’ll see plenty of action of the privacy front as well; I saw a post today by Brent C. J. Britton on new social media guidelines imposed on its members by the Florida bar. What’s impermissible advertising and what’s just plain social? And, activity on the patent front should get even livelier as we have seen the biggest companies in our industry take up their swords in this respect. The ROI for graduating from law school may soon start to climb again thanks to the technology industry. I for one am hoping the US government will not cripple the tech industry with regulations like it ruined Detroit with emissions and safety rules in the 80’s. Those rules were perhaps for good reason, but the unintended consequences were severe. (You may recall that the very entertaining Can Am racing series was ended when the sanctioning body was compelled to impose a 3 mpg minimum and put those magnificent 1500 hp Porsche 917’s out of business. Or you may not, but I needed a cool photo for this post.)
7. There could be some really big wins and losses this year. There may well be some “Kodak moments” where newer but already somewhat iconic brands prove vulnerable. Very few tech companies are too big to be displaced, and very nimble competitors are plentiful.
8. Finally, there will always be room for originality. I commented in a previous post about seeing 75 nearly identical plans in one batch of 450 I graded for a competition. Of late I’ve seen some “out of the way” and totally unsexy ideas that actually address very big problems. They may be remarkable investments because it’s so unlikely anyone else will pursue these markets until these first-movers are very far down their roads.