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The worst tech predictions of 2013 -- and two that hit the mark

Bill Snyder | Jan. 2, 2014
From the social network in business to the 'success' of the Chromebook to the launch of iTV, the pundits got it wrong, wrong, wrong

InfoWorld's Galen Gruman argues that the use of social networking within the office appears to be small, despite the constant noise by vendors and management about trial efforts. Many end up wasting everyone's time and effort. Gruman notes that he has no hard evidence to back up his assertions. However, that evidence does exist.

When social networking in business is examined closely, as Harvard Business Review did earlier this year, you find that there's no "there" there. Calling social networking "Enterprise 2.0," writer Jacques Bughin says:

  • McKinsey estimates that only 6 percent of companies have truly integrated Enterprise 2.0 into the core.
  • 25 to 50 percent of a company's employees must use social networking extensively for it to produce an acceptable ROI. But more than 50 percent of companies fail to achieve this level of penetration.
  • A lot of companies congratulate themselves on having a "social media presence" — by which they mean a Twitter following and Facebook likes and a marketing plan that uses social networks. But some 70 percent of the extra profit to be made through social technologies has nothing to do with marketing.

Sobering indeed.

Apple will tank
For a few years, Apple could do no wrong — in the minds of the digerati, at least — and its stock price approached $600 a share. Some thought it was headed for $1,000. But then Steve Jobs died, Android took off after a slow start, and Samsung put the pedal to the metal. Suddenly Apple was a dog, and many figured that an awful lot of chickens were coming home to roost in 2013.

Not exactly: Apple's stock recovered strongly this year, climbing from a low of $402 a share in July to $560 this week, a gain of almost 40 percent. The surge wasn't just more irrational exuberance on the part of Wall Street. Apple's products, which may have bored the blogosphere, delighted consumers.

Apple broke precedent and launched two new iPhones in September; they did not get great reviews. But at the end of the first weekend of sales, more than 9 million were sold in just three days. Apple sold 2,083 new iPhones every minute, or 34 every second, and there was little or no evidence that any significant number of those sales were reversed by returns.

More recently, a report from analysts at Canaccord Genuity shows that iPhone 5S has been the best-selling smartphone by customers of AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

Amazon will lose its lead in the cloud
When it comes to serious, enterprise computing, hardly anyone took Amazon Web Services very seriously. After all, it's an e-commerce company — can it be trusted it with serious stuff? asked many. Even if it was the first mover in public clouds, few people believed it would stay on top when big-business providers like IBM and Rackspace got serious about the cloud. Well, the answer is in, and for anyone who predicted that AWS would lose its lead, here's the news: It hasn't. Not even close.


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