Predictions and Prognostications

I've read a lot of predictions and prognostications for 2011 in the tech blogs this weekend. My favorite is this presentation that Paul Kedrosky sent me from the big marketing agency JWT.

Too many of the predictions I read in the tech blogs are focused on the narrow tech world, some are focused largely on Apple, Google, and Facebook. There's a lot more out there than tech, and it is the intersection of tech, internet, society, culture, money, politics, and other important aspects of life that is always the most interesting (and profitable).

That's why I like this deck from JWT. I also like that prediction number one, that 3D printing goes mainstream this year, is a bet we made with our investment in Shapeways. It always feels good to see that others agree with you.

I'm not going to do my own list of predictions so this is the best I can do for you. 

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Dale Allyn

    I agree with you, Fred. It’s a good deck. And rather positive in overall tone as well. 🙂 A diverse view such as this is far more meaningful than the narrowly focussed “tech-only” lists we often see. There is life outside of the tech scene.Many of the specific slides feel spot on to me, and that bodes well for 2011 in terms of a global upswing.

  2. aripap

    Excellent stuff, thanks for posting.

  3. awaldstein

    Hi Fred…a good catch-all laundry list. Three jump out at me strongly:#33 FB Alternatives. I’d rather call this the year of the nich social community. Honestly, there’s a dearth of subject/interest specific truly social communities. AVC is one of the best and one of the few.#75 Scanning Everything. Seems like the future.#69Next Gen Documentaries. I like this one and it caught me pleasantly surprised.I’m inspired that there is so much innovation possible without technology breakthroughs. The platforms for innovation seem strong and present already. Its about filters and focus and branding.

    1. fredwilson

      next gen documentaries is really exciting to me

  4. gregorylent

    3d-print your house, car, laptop, wife, and dog … predictions for 2055 … you heard it here first 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      house, car, and laptop i can believe

  5. dabent

    Great list. As much as it pains me, they were right about coconut water. NFC and 2-D barcodes could replace old-fashioned keyboard inputs for search. Keyboards are *so* early-21st century. I also like the idea of digital indoor maps. It’s simply too hard to find products in a store, especially big-box retailers that seem to have 2 or 3 people around to ask. A decent app could make commerce so much more efficient.I’m also a fan of “instant.” Now that Google’s let the instant search out of the bag, no one is going to want to go back.

    1. fredwilson

      an app on my android that has maps of all the supermarkets i shop at is a huge win. is there such a thing?

      1. Fred H.

        Boy, if there isn’t there sure should be… But a big challenge would be keeping it updated. One of the three grocery stores we shop in regularly seems to move stuff around indiscriminately!

        1. paramendra


      2. dabent

        I don’t know of one. It was actually a startup idea I had a long while back. The data collection could be a bit complicated, and I believe individual store managers might have some freedom to change layouts, making it trickier than it might first seem. I think one would have to partner with retailers to get decent data.Perhaps malls have digital maps of what stores they have? I haven’t checked.I just know that I hate wasting time at The Home Labyrinth when I’m just looking for something simple. It’s a pain that I know I have and a problem I’d love to solve or see solved.

      3. Mike

        There’s a startup here in Dallas tackling this with some success. I’ll see if I can track down the website.

  6. Joseph Flaherty

    Fred, Do you have any insight on why the tech press (specifically the startup press) is so narrowly focused on FB, Apple, Google, and to a lesser extent Twitter, Foursquare, etc? They are important companies that deserve ink, but there seems to be a whole shadow sector of companies that have massive user bases, solid businesses, and almost no coverage. Examples would be Ganz (Webkinz), Magicjack, and CSN stores. All have massive business with tens of millions of users and nine figures of revenue, but are almost never discussed.My favorite example was Club Penguin which had only raised angel money, was generating ~$70MM in revenue and was acquired for $350MM by Disney. The acquisition was the only time they were mentioned in TechCrunch. That seems like one of the bigger wins of the decade, but is rarely discussed.Of course there is an economic reason for the focus, people click on stories about Apple. However, these “Red State Startups” that bring the web to “Early/Late Majority” seem to do really well when they workout.

    1. Hashim Warren

      You answered your own question.they publish what gets clicks.Another reason: they write about companies they use. So information tech gets more ink.

      1. Joseph Flaherty

        That accounts for the Apple/Twitter/FB traffic, but TechCrunch posts several stories about early stage financings every day. Additionally, after Club Penguin got bought they started posting stories about every small game company that got started. I think a lot of it is ignorance (in the best sense) and finding stories with a simple template. In any case it is probably better for the companies in question not to get the press. It keeps them from having a bunch of copycats in the early days.

    2. Gmg

      Relationships and ignorance.

    3. fredwilson

      they live in a echochamber and don’t care to get out of it

  7. ErikSchwartz

    I met some of the Cornell University 3d printer team at Maker Faire last spring. The potential there is amazing and inspiring across so many fields.

  8. Fred H.

    Fred, thanks very much for calling this presentation to our attention. Your observation about the need to look beyond tech is right on the money. Oh, and BTW, the 3-D printing biz has already made some big headway into hobbies such as model trains. Google Sketchup is very easy to learn/use and the capability to produce incredibly realistic one-off parts is nothing less than amazing. Now — hint, hint — if someone would just mashup a 3-D printer with a laser cutter and a high-end inkjet printer we could get realistically textured objects that are also realistically colored.

    1. Joseph Flaherty

      I think it will take more than a hint:-) The three technologies you mention have a lot of mutually exclusive traits that would make a combination difficult. That said I agree, In order to get high quality parts you really need to use several processes. 3D printing is great for fit/form testing, but not so much for surface detailing.

      1. Fred H.

        Two out of three, Joseph, may not be that difficult. You could easily combine a laser cutter with a high-end inkjet printer. You might need (at the prototype stage anyway) to have a system of manual registration (pegs, most likely) but the whole thing could probably be done for less than $10k by an enterprising ME/EE at MIT.

        1. Joseph Flaherty

          In that case why not just use a plotter? a la…An inkjet won’t be able to print on much more than paper so a laser might be over kill.

  9. ShanaC

    I like three d printing. It makes me want to figure how to create something with it.Big standouts – anti-tech and time out from tech.Fetishization of objects, particularly books. I think I’m already seeing retail of paintings of books. And there is a tumblr out there of alternative Criteria collection covers. Edit: The more I think about it, the biggest effect will be on newspapers, not books. I get the feeling people will still buy expend but nice looking hardbacks not only to decorate their place but also to read. I keep thinking there will be slimmed down custom news that will be printed as commemorative pieces and anti tech for chill time (ala the printed blog concept)Heirloom apples – while I want this to happen, I don’t see tons of recipes calling for apples the way tomatoes are sort of ubiqutious.Healthy food changes – yup, it is just a matter of how it will affect the fast food industry into changing into the neo-healthy fast food industry

    1. kirklove

      Yes on the Anti-Tech. Was happy to see that in there as well.

      1. ShanaC

        That being said, I still don’t know what form anti-tech will take

        1. kirklove

          For me it will be just less time interacting with tech (ironic as I type this).

    2. Fred H.

      Shana, if you’re killing time and looking for some inspiration, check out this modeler……Fred H.

      1. ShanaC

        Thank you, I will check it out.

  10. kirklove

    Some good stuff there.I really like how several dealt with de-connecting. I think that will become a big trend moving forward. Tech is great. I love it. But, so is stepping back from the screen or phone from time to time and enjoying the real world.Two of my New Year’s resolutions:1. Leave the cell phone in my pocket at meal time (the entire time that is). This will be hard, but I think it will lead to much more enjoyable meals.2. I’m starting a supper club where friends and strangers can meet in groups of 6 to 8 and share a meal together once or twice a month. It will be a rotating cast and that’s what I’m most excited about. I find that’s when I’m at my happiest – meeting new people and dining and talking with them. You can’t get that online. I’m really looking forward to that.All the best in 2011.

    1. ShanaC

      I vote supper club for 2012. I like that idea.

      1. kirklove

        Supper club is 2011. And you’re more than welcome to join. You’ve got a great voice and great ideas. Pleasure reading your comments here.

        1. ShanaC

          It is a pleasure to read yours as well.(And I actually would love doing that. I love small gatherings of people, Ilove food and cooking*, and I actually try not talking about tech when outwith people who don’t care.*I like being sous chef. Seriously)

  11. William Mougayar

    Great find…I like the non-tech mix.My favorite is #81 social browsers. I’ve been using RockMelt and Flock and it adds another dimension to “social omnipresence”. Chrome and Firefox have plugins apparently, but I have yet to try them. We spend so much time on browsers, whether mobile or desktop, so it’s the natural place to have a lot of social injected into it.

  12. Zeshan Ghory

    Some thoughts -#6. Presumably the only thing really stopping auto-checkin is the dismal battery life on most smartphones. Question is will battery tech ever overtake energy demand from the phones? Either that or make swapping batteries very simple.#29. Nice to see East London Tech City get a mention. Will be interesting to see how effective government intervention/support will be in encouraging tech innovation. I was at an open meeting with a government minister and he at least seemed very ready to talk to startups about areas of concern (financing, education, visas for employees etc).#40. Group manipulated pricing. Saw a tweet earlier today where somebody mentioned that we hadn’t really seen true “social shopping” take off. Group-on and the flash sales sites aren’t particularly social, so definitely room for innovation here. The uniqlo example was a good one.

    1. fredwilson

      the truly auto checkin is a bad idea in my opinionthe auto prompted user generated checkin is a great ideaand yes, battery life is the reason it doesn’t happen

      1. Mike

        If my wife is more the norm than I am then I’d say auto-checkins or auto-prompted checkins haven’t happened b/c most people don’t believe there’s any value in doing so (and battery life).That will change but maybe not until 2012 :).

  13. johndodds

    Friends have been playing with 3D printers for a couple of years now but even with their process falling I’d be astonished if they went mainstream (whatever they mean by that) this year. I treat ad agencies’ prognostications with as much salt as I do those of the geek fetishists. There’s definitely some things to watch there, but I imagine quite a few are re-hashes of previous predictions (note that they highlight/brag about only 6% of their predictions from 2010 and 2009) – it’s the people who temper their enthusiasm so as to ensure theyget the timing right that are the really smart ones.

    1. johndodds

      Process above should be prices. Oops.

    2. Joseph Flaherty

      The big bottle neck to widespread 3D printing will be 3D cad software. It is hard to use, wildly expensive, and requires a couple thousand hours of training to be proficient.

      1. emoses

        I think the industry hasn’t been thrown on its head but I think it’s started. Packages like rhino are cheap enough and easy enough to learn that it makes more sense for a lot of companies who need to test physical products (including mine!) to “build” and rapid prototype their own. 5-10 years ago, an engineer with a solidworks seat and access to a big tooling shop were the gatekeepers to getting something made. That’s simply no longer the case. I think 3d skills in 5 years could very easily be like photoshop skills now – previously esoteric, but really anyone can do it.In the meantime, there’s a garage somewhere where someone’s building “3d cad computing for the cloud”

    3. fredwilson

      i doubt 3D printers will go mainstream but maybe 3D printing will

  14. RichardF

    The Adventures of Tintin in 3D – I had no idea that was coming, awesome

    1. fredwilson

      that was my reaction too

  15. SteveD-

    Fred, shapeways looks like a very cool Site- a service bureau that provides access to higher end 3D printing technologies AND an Etsy style storefront for 3D designers, nice. Make magazine had an issue recently that reviewed 3D printers and CNC machines for home use. Makerbot builds an abs plastic based system for under a grand or sells kits. This is a relatively low res technique compares to the $30k plus wax printer my jeweler uses but the costs are coming down. Over a decade ago I saw a paper based printer at the UCSD Super computer center that was being used to print 3D topographic maps. I can’t imagine now what that cost at the time but it was pretty neat. Sweet stuff, looking forward to more and maybe getting my own 3D printer someday.

  16. Wells Baum

    My favorite 2011 prediction is #60, the rise of Neymar, the Brazilian soccer star.Soccer is a global sport so it makes sense that such a development would be included in the 100 Things to Watch in 2011.The other emerging trend I believe will become a mainstay in our rapidly digitizing world is digital downtime. We should take digital in doses rather than 24/7 connectivity.I will certainly do my best, especially during non-working hours.

  17. joeagliozzo

    I thought the micro-business slide was interesting. I think more and more people want to make some extra cash given the current economy (and likely slow growth future). These micro businesses will then need the same support that larger businesses need, but it will have to be delivered on a micro basis. For example, when these micro-businesses do generate some revenue the long arm of the IRS and the state (Franchise tax board here in CA) will start to reach out to grab them and make them report the income, pay estimated quarterly taxes, remit sales and or use taxes, etc. There are horror stories on Hacker news from individuals who have generated taxes and penalties that are multiples of the revenue that they ever generated, simply because they didn’t know they had to file a certain document, etc.

  18. RJ Johnston

    I love the 3D printing model. I am surprised Itsy has not partnered with a company like Shapeways to provide their customer base with the means to inexpensively develop product prototypes.

    1. fredwilson

      they are both USV portfolio companies so maybe it could happenwe don’t push that sort of thing thoughit has to happen naturally

  19. Patricia

    I would agree with some of these.I’d switch out “ethical fashion” for “intelligent fashion” — shopping made simpler by technology tools, more comparison shopping, more well curated deals.

  20. LIAD

    interesting eclectic list – really enjoyable to read.if it didn’t leave you buzzing, make sure you’ve still got a pulse.(Near field communication (NFC) particularly excites me.)Generated a word cloud for the list. Whichever way you cut it, it’s all about PEOPLE…

  21. apfwebs

    Good show: for the ones I care about, I hope you’re right.De-tech and Ignorance is Bliss: those should be something I start on right away.

  22. pengteets

    Oh wow, I never thought about it like that before. Makes

  23. Steven Kane

    i saw this – very thought provoking listin no particular order, couple of predictions from yours truly:the republicans will not do what they say will do, infuriating left and right alikethe democrats will not do what they say they will do, infuriating left and right alikemany segments of the economy will recover, but not as predictedmany segments of the economy will not recover, but not as predictedclimate change believers will see in the data confirmation of their faithclimate change disbelievers will see in the data confirmation of their faithbillionaires and the super wealthy will do whatever the hell they want, and most will spin their power as altruism (the others will simply remain anonymous)the left will try to nominate sarah palin for the republican ticket much more than will the rightthe right will confuse traditional ways of doing things with truththe left will consider anyone who disagrees with them to be either stupid or brainwashedhollywood will churn out huge budget flashy silly movies and tv shows… that hundreds of millions of people will adoreno one in authority will seriously discuss population control, despite that it is the issue at the root of every single other major crisis facing humankindtons of true startling exciting “innovation” will come from people places and opportunities no one anticipatedthe overwhelming majority of predictions and prognostications will prove to be wrong, but no one will know because all such year end/year start forecasts will have been long long forgottenintelligent alien life forms will not be discovered (or their existence will continue to be kept secret)the conspiracy that controls all of human activity and destiny will continue to refuse my application for membershipi will get older but not wiserthe redsox will crush the yankees

    1. fredwilson

      i disagree with the second to last one

  24. andyidsinga

    Hey JLM – #55 is nanobrewers! …thats gonna be happening in a garage near me hehehe.I’m totally serious – I got the book and everything – (aka home brewing) 😉

    1. JLM

      I have made my own beer and have met with both triumph and disaster. My biggest problem has always been my wife throwing out my stuff.The best thing I have ever made is “mead” which requires a bit of good honey and is about 15-20% alcohol by volume. Your friends will love. Of course, they will be very, very drunk friends.HNY and Happy New Beer!

  25. andyidsinga

    Albert’s blog has a sweet Shapeways widget/advertising thingy on the right hand panel. ( I love that thing…

  26. vruz

    I’m sorry but JWT”s / Paul’s predictions (these public ones) are too boring and too predictable.I don’t think he’s personally boring though, I just think he’s holding his best cards to himself, and you should probably are doing/will do the same.

  27. sachxn

    I agree with you..there are lots n lots of more things to stare at in 2011 besides Google, Apple …very interesting….thanks…

  28. Ghorwood

    Thanks for posting. I think Etsy should pay particular attention to No. 44 – In the Flesh. I’ve long thought they are uniquely positioned to blur the online/offline divide given the entrenched behavior of craft fairs…buyers of crafts want to connect with sellers on a personal level.

  29. Rick Mason

    Well it was most encouraging that they were positive on Detroit. Lots of interesting experimenting going on there right now.I was encouraged that our new governor said that entrepreneurs were the states salvation. This was in stark contrast to the past three governors who believed success was bribing manufacturing companies with money from state coffers to relocate here. I compared it to a merry go round, when the music stopped we wanted to be the last manufacturing state left standing.The thing with Detroit is that things are so bad there that the barrier against trying off the wall ideas is lowered. Mix that with fire sale prices on real estate and something might just happen. Friends who attended the Maker Faire in Detroit this fall said the energy was palpable. Nice that an outsider is noticing.

  30. Ankit Agarwal

    Hi Fred,My company, micello, has been dubbed “google maps inside a building”. We have the worlds largest collection of indoor maps (ie shopping malls, conferences, airports etc). We’re scaling to thousands of locations, fast and are looking to be the “maps supplier” for location companies.Mapping the insides of grocery or department stores becomes very interesting for us in 2011 especially as new companies emerge to solve the indoor positioning problem (I’m tracking about 20 such companies). Many of them are providing sub 1 meter level positioning, which is perfect for department/grocery stores.btw, its also very useful for hospitals, conferences, museums, college campus buildings… etc- Ankitceo, micello

  31. Mike

    Is it just me or does calling 2011 the year that smartphones “take off” seem a little ridiculous?

  32. Dan Epstein

    I enjoyed this. Thanks for posting.Inspired me to post my own thoughts (long –…, which I’ll summarize:Apple and Android become even bigger winners in mobile, growing to 50%-60% of the smartphone market.The smartphone as a wallet concept gains widespread traction/adoption.Netflix takes off (even more). Becomes The destination for renting movies/shows/games.Tumblr experiences huge user growth–becomes the new Twitter.Free public WiFi in lots more places. Especially on major highways, leading to…Apps in cars, maybe even iOS or Android devices built for cars. And eventually, cars that drive themselves.Also, did you see Doug Kass’s “surprise” list? If not, you should check it. I think you’d like it. His surprises have averaged about 50% recently (meaning 50% have come to pass).

    1. fredwilson

      great list

  33. paramendra

    The greatest slideshow ever. Thanks for sharing. Promptly reblogged it. A scheduled post, so not visible yet at my blog. How come I have missed out on them in the previous years! Thanks AVC.