Jim's Predictions

It may be unwise to expose the foibles of my predilection for predictions, but I'm nothing if not unwise.

Phillips CD-i is already obsolete and will never succeed other than in niches. [note]
Philips abandoned CD-i in 1998.
Erasable CD's will be introduced in 1992 or 1993.
I missed this one by a mile. CD-RW didn't come out until 1997.
By 1994 most new cameras will be digital.
I was 4 or 5 years early on this one. Although by 1996 a majority of professional photographers had gone digital.
Rap will die out in two years.
One can always dream.
18-inch satellite dishes will start showing up in 1994.
I got this one right, just barely.
By the end of 1995, SGI will have the largest base of installed computers (by virtue of their CPUs being the standard for interactive TV interface boxes).
Nope. In fact it will probably happen the other way around: computers will replace set-top boxes and, eventually, TVs. (When the Internet takes over the world you'll have a work computer and an entertainment computer.)
DTV (HDTV) sets will appear on the market in 1997, but won't be affordable (under $1000) until 2002.
By this time next year, K-band satellite dishes (DSS, DishNet etc., which currently cost about $600) will be given away free when you sign up for the service, like cellular phones are now.
By the end of 1998 most CD-ROM drive makers will have switched to DVD-ROM drives (that also read CD-ROMs). The last CD-ROM drive will be made in 1999.
I was way too optimistic.
By 2002 we'll have dedicated "recipe book" computers that stick on your kitchen wall and cost under $50.
It will take 18 years (2014) to get "paperback book" computers that have 5" x 7" high-contrast color screens at 300 dpi.
DVD video recording for consumers won't appear until 2001.
Right on the nose, as long as you don't count Japan (which had it in December 1999).
High-density DVD won't be on the market until 2004 at the earliest.
1/2005 (CES presentation)
It will take at least 16 years* (after 2020) for typical American consumers to switch from DVD and Blu-ray to digital downloads and streaming. Consider that MP3 appeared around 1995 and ten years later digital music was still far less than half the revenue or unit sales of CDs.
* What I specifically said was "two generations," which is a nice fuzzy way to make a prediction. If you consider a technology generation to be 7 to 10 years (BD appeared 9 years after DVD) then 8 years is reasonable approximation for this projection.
(Update 2011: This is still at least 10 years out. U.S. digital music sales are projected to finally pass CD sales in 2012.)
1/2006 (Storage Visions presentation)
There will be two more generations of optical media technology: blue laser and then probably holographic.
(Update 2009: Nope, only one. I no longer believe holographic storage or any other high-density optical storage format will achieve mass market success. Blu-ray will be the last mainstream format.)
Blu-ray will win the format war, but HD DVD may take a while to admit defeat.
Blu-ray won after HD DVD capitulated much fast than I expected.
Some day (maybe as soon as 2025) we'll say "remember when we used to have to recharge our cell phones and cameras and wireless headsets?" I'm not sure we'll have alternative power sources such as micro fuel cells or kinetic dynamos to generate power from our walking and moving, but battery capacity will have gone up so much and chips will be so much more efficient that devices will run for months or years on one charge.
Within 10 years we'll be able to talk to our cell phones in meaningful ways. Today I can speak words for Google searches and phone number lookups. Tomorrow I'll be able to say things like "The next time I'm at Ace Hardware, remind me to get the house key copied," and the phone will set a location-based reminder.
Smart phones will become the repository of personal sensors. Today they have GPS, accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometer (compass), photometer, and cameras. Soon they'll have a fingerprint reader, pulse reader, thermometer, pressure sensor (stand on your phone to use it as a scale?), galvanometer (handy as a lie detector), laser or ultrasonic rangefinder, and a whole array of cameras (for facial recognition, movement tracking, infrared motion detection, and more). Eventually they'll montior your health by checking your blood (dozens of apps for diabetics), breath (even more apps for alcohol and halitosis), skin pH, bioelectrical impedance (body fat), metabolism, brainwaves, and more. At some point one or more video cameras (some perhaps in your watch or glasses or shoe and connected to the phone via Bluetooth 7.0) will be on 24/7, keeping a permanent record of events or at least a temporary record you can review and save your favorite excerpts from. At some point sensors that today are sophisticated and expensive, such as a gas chromatograph, mass spectrometer, ultrasonic sensor, and pheromone tester (pheremonemeter?) will be mass-produced for cell phones.

Other People's Predictions

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
-- Western Union internal memo
1902 (?)
"In fifteen years more electricity will be sold for electric vehicles than for light."
-- Thomas Edison
"The talking motion picture will not supplant the regular silent motion picture.... There is such a tremendous investment in pantomime pictures that it would be absurd to disturb it."
-- Thomas Edison, in Munseys magazine
"There will never be speaking pictures."
-- D.W. Griffith, cinema pioneer
"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
-- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
-- Popular Mechanics
"I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone."
-- Jack Valenti, President of the Motion Picture Association of America, testifying on videocassette recorders before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee
One billion people on the Internet by the year 2000.
-- Nicholas Negroponte, Director of MIT Media Lab
The 40 million worldwide users of the Internet today will reach over 200 million by 1999.
-- International Data Corporation
In August 1981 there were 213 known Internet servers; as of July 1995 there were 6,642,000. By the year 2000 there will be approximately 101 million Internet servers.
-- Network Wizards
More than 8 million subscribers to the Microsoft Network by 1999, and over 26 million total online subscribers. Online sales will reach $24.1 billion in 1999, a 75% increase over 1994. More than 500 million people on the Internet.
-- SIMBA Information Inc.
The total online community--including those with both a direct Net connection and access via an online service--should skyrocket to 12 million by late 1996.
-- O'Reilly & Associates and Trish Information Services
"I'm an optimist. I think in three years in the U.S. we'll have millions of people connected up through ISDN and cable modems."
-- Bill Gates, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft
Internet stocks will crash by July 1996. (They suggested a put option on Inter@ctive Week Internet Index counting on a drop from 240 to below 150, for a profit of over 200%.)
-- Personal Finance Newsletter
They got it wrong: on July 10 the index was up to 245. If you had followed their advice you would have lost money.
Jim's Prediction (1/95): Internet stocks will crash, but not very hard and long after July 1995.
I was right, unless you count the 200 "dot com crash" as hard.
DVD sales will reach 3 million in the first year. 120 million DVD-ROM drives by the year 2000.
-- Toshiba
DVD sales will reach 1 million in the first year.
-- Sony
25 million DVD-ROM drives by the year 2000, at which time CD-ROM drives will still sell more than DVD-ROM drives.
-- Philips
Jim's Prediction (1/96): Almost no one will be making CD-ROM drives in the year 2000.
Oops, I was about 3 years too early on this one.

Jim Taylor
04 Apr 2011