Tis the season for prognostication, so here are my predictions for the true first year of the millennium. Feel free to steal my prescience and claim it for your own. If Im right, youll look brilliant. If Im wrong, blame it on the liberal technology media.
Microsoft Despite the ardent hopes of Messrs. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, the administration of George II will not roll over and settle the massive antitrust case. The fight is now on a legal track and wont easily be derailed before it reaches the Supreme Court. As President-elect Bush says, hes the president of all the people — even those crushed by the Microsoft monopoly.
Amazon.com This is the year Jeff Bezos will cash out. His deft profits-later strategy won him enough time to build a business-to-consumer powerhouse, but time is running out. Bezos will unload Amazon on a large, old-economy stalwart such as Wal-Mart or Target and leave it to that company to figure out how to squeeze black ink out of the online retailer.
Wall Street Sometime around midyear, tech stocks will begin to rebound, driven largely by interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve Board, and general agreement that Internet issues have scraped bottom. The market for initial public offerings will return as well, but investors will be much more cautious than in days of old.
Chips Toward the end of 2001, a major chip manufacturer will announce a substantial speed breakthrough that will set Moores law back to zero and usher in a new era of even more powerful handheld and desktop devices. The event will revive the flagging PC industry.
Media Micro-ventures in music, film and video make it to the mainstream. A new pay-for Napster will codify Internet distribution and spawn imitators, and previously ignored talent will finally have a direct shot at marketing to the masses. However, established music labels and movie studios will maintain a strong advantage in promotion.
AT&T Michael Armstrong will leave Ma Bell in the spring as the telephone companys financial fortunes continue to slide. Next stop for the executive will be Lucent Technologies, which desperately needs a star CEO and is willing to overlook Armstrongs weak Internet record.
ITV Interactive TV, the Great White Hope of so many venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, will gain altitude early in the year — but will run out of fuel by December and fall to Earth in a fiery heap. Generations of Americans have been reared to watch the boob tube passively. Dont mess with Bubba in his Barcalounger.