When we think about the year past and the year ahead, often the crystal ball can be a bit blurry. But not this year. There are so many forces now clearly at work that predictions for 2010 seem clearer than at any time in the past 10 years.
So, that said - get out your scorecard and let's play: Can You Predict The Future?
- Prediction #1. Web Video Content networks will begin to book significant revenue in 2010, as both viewers and advertisers begin to peg value to quality web content.
It's clear that traffic and dollars are moving away from legacy media - so the question is where will the wheel of fortune stop? There are some winners on the horizon that we can peg. While web video continues to become more channelized and vertical, the distributors that have gotten it right are the ones that have a focus and customers who value their service. The two outstanding companies in this regard are Blip.TV as a platform for program distribution, and Revision 3 as targeted network of series programs.
- Prediction #2. The Boxee Box will make a big splash at CES, and will see significant consumer adoption in 2010.
The living room broadband software/hardware play also shows clarity next year - with Netflix doing the best job of having one foot in a physical delivery system (dvds) and one foot in digital delivery to the flatscreen. On the hardware side, Roku cotinues to do well - but I'd put my money on the hardware/software combo of the Boxee Box that will debut at CES this year. The Boxee Beta launch in Brooklyn was an adrenaline fueled shindig of alpha geeks - looking to be part of the future of web media. As long as Boxee can keep them on the team - they'll remain the frontrunners in the web video 'browser' space.
- Prediction #3. NBC / Comcast will get quick regulatory approval.
The NBC/Comcast merger will fly through approvals - who would oppose them? No one, because cable, phone and broadband co's all want to be able to do similar deals.
- Prediction #4. Verizon will make a play for Viacom.
NBC/Comcast won't be the last mega-merger, in fact the wisdom of the "Curse of the Moguls" not withstanding, there will be at least one more biggie in 2010. I'd put my money on Verizon/Viacom. There's lots of goodness around this deal - and the rumor that it's already in the hopper. Of course the question is if Sumner really wants to sell, or if he's determined to run the company until he can no longer hold pen. One thing is for sure - Verizon needs a content arm - and they'll shop till they get one.
- Prediction #5. Cisco will double down on both devices and software delivery solutions for web video content.
Finally - the big dark horse who's likely to be a bigger force in 2010 is Cisco. Cisco appears to be doing everything right. They've got a cash-cow business in the web infrastructure business. Last time we checked there was no lack of demand for routers and bandwidth. But the move into the consumer space has so far gone well, with the Cisco logo showing up on living room devices like Linksys and portable devices like Pure Digital's Flip Cam.
So, to recap: 2010 winners: Blip.TV, Boxee, NBC/Comcast, Verizon, Cisco. Those are my picks - what are yours?
(originally posted on www.businessinsider.com)