Place Your 2005 IT Bets

IT's reigning champs may retain their titles in 2005 (unfortunately).

Twenty years ago, a little publication started out that billed itself as "The newsweekly of IBM system microcomputers." That publication was PC Week, which, in 2000, became eWEEK. During the last two decades, weve seen our fair share of innovations, successes, failures and revolutions in IT. But theres one thing that weve seen more of than anything else: bad predictions.

Looking at the 1984 issues of PC Week, one finds several technology titans—many of which were based not far from where I sit, just off Route 128 in Massachusetts—that predicted that PCs would be a passing fad and would never challenge big iron in companies.

Just 10 years later, Bill Gates decided that the Web and the Internet werent all that important. (Luckily for him, Microsoft was able to turn on a dime and pretend Gates comments were never uttered.)

But that was then. In this column, I will reverse this sorry trend of bad technology predictions by being 100 percent correct (maybe).

And Ive decided to up the ante by offering my technology predictions in a gambling-based format: football pool picks.

So, without further ado, my picks for the 2005 IT season:

Other Browsers (-3) at Internet Explorer: In an earlier column, I predicted that, by early fall 2005, IEs market share would drop below 75 percent. I now think that 60 percent is more like it, what with all the momentum on the side of Mozillas Firefox and with the Microsoft coaches trying to give the game away with questionable moves (such as no new versions of IE except on new operating systems). IE has been coasting on its reputation for years now, and its due for a fall. Im taking the other browsers and the points in this one.

/zimages/2/28571.gifThere are 10 tech trends that Labs hopes will end in 2005. Click here to read about them.

Standards-based Apps (-7) at Proprietary Apps: In a battle in the same division as the IE browser tussle, applications built to work well on many platforms and to conform to standards go against the well-established products that work with only one operating system, such as Windows, or one browser, such as IE.

Proprietary Apps is one of the founding dynasties of the IT League, and its timeless quarterback, Company Inertia, shows little sign of slowing. But the Proprietary Apps team has been hurt badly by regular security problems that show the inherent problems with building on the same stars year after year.

On the other side, Standards-based Apps is the model franchise of the modern-day Technology League, embodying the kind of teamwork and sacrifice that make it possible to overcome any technology hurdle. It will be a tough fight and Im picking Standards-based Apps for the win, but it will be close this year and Im not sure if theyll cover the points.

Fair Technology Laws at Special Interest Technology Laws (-6): I really love everything about the Fair Technology Laws team. It really wants everyone to get a fair shake, and its playbook calls for protecting innovation and user rights. But I think this team is still a year away from a winning season. Right now, it wont be able to overcome the dirty tricks and wily veterans on the Special Interest Technology Laws team, which Im taking with the points.

Pop-ups at Pop-up Blockers (pick em): A classic back-and-forth game between an offensive team (meaning Pop-ups, in more ways than one) and the defense-oriented Pop-up Blockers team. This will be a close one, decided in overtime, but the Blockers will eventually wear out the Pop-ups.

There are also several gimmes on the schedule. My picks, in blowout wins, are:

• Internet User Privacy Rights getting crushed by Internet User Apathy;

• Spam spanking all Legislative and Technological solutions in its way;

• Broken Patches and Security Problems in its regular homecoming stomping of Secure Software Code; and

• The embarrassing Monday night laugher of Inane Stupid Patents over Chance for Sensible Patents Law.

/zimages/2/28571.gifWhat does Peter Coffee predict for 2005? Click here to read his column.

Let the office pools begin. Im thinking that 2005 will be a good year as far as my choices go, but not so good for those hoping for a more secure, sensible and innovative technology year.

Labs Director Jim Rapoza joined eWEEK in 1993 and since then has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category. Jims current beat includes content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security.

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