It also means new predictions for 2016. And that’s doubly so this year because politics and technology don’t mix well, and this year we get predictions from both directions. I’ll forgo the political side because it’s a mess. Again. But technology predictions, and predictions in general, have a major problem that no one seems to want to address.
What’s Your Record?
Whether political predictions or technology predictions, industry prognosticators and those who listen to them have one thing in common. Short memories. Who remembers the predictions made by members of the technorati elite to start 2015?
Can you hear those crickets? No one remembers what was forecast a year ago, and it’s unlikely anyone will remember this year’s attempts to divine the future from a digital crystal ball, next year.
Here are some examples. Tech pundit Kevin Rose came out with five tech predictions for 2016.
- Virtual reality will be a dud
- Cryptocurrency will be a niche only
- Apple Watch 2 will have mediocre success (mediocre is undefined)
- Uber will compete with Yelp (the latter has money, the former does not)
- 2016 will be the year of Uber delivery and Slack APIs
I could add to that list rather easily with a few guesses. 2016 will be the year of… insert your favorite tech here… Linux, Bitcoin, Apple TV, Apple Car, touchscreen Macs, Windows Phone… you get the idea.
So, what’s the problem?
Nobody bothers to compare their previous predictions for the year with what actually happens after the predictions. Generally speaking, that doesn’t happen in politics, either, but it should, either by law (like Congress will pass a law that requires politicians to track their campaign promises year to year), or by a neutral third party.
Simply put, anyone who publishes a prediction online, in print, or broadcasts a prediction should be required to publish how that prediction turned out and how it compared with the actual results. Think of it as a score card for politicians and tech media pundits. Even the stock market doesn’t do that which tells me that most market predictions are wrong, otherwise, those doing the predicting would be singing their own praises a year later and offering their stellar record as proof of competence.
Quarter after quarter Apple offers up predictions for the next financial quarter. Quarter after quarter those predictions get compared with actual financial results; revenue and profits. The company also lists how many of its major products were sold in a quarter, but does not predict actual unit sales for the future.
What company does?
That should explain why predictions for the future are often left to members of the talking heads who watch politics, and to the talking heads who watch technology companies. There is no accountability for either group, but there needs to be. Politicians are seldom held accountable for their campaign promises. Likewise, members of the technorati elite are seldom held accountable for their predictions, distortions, or outright lies, because there is no accountability for the future, regardless of who is involved.
Yet, year after year, we’re treated to laundry lists of promises and predictions. Here’s one you can hold me to this time next year. Despite the nattering nabobs of negativity, Apple will be the most profitable technology company in 2016.