2010 Predictions

I [did it last year] (http://v.cx/2008/12/predictions), with fair results, so it’s time for another try. These are my predictions for 2010.

Like last year, I’ve rated each prediction with a “difficulty” between 0 and 1 based on how likely I think I’ll be right; this is an attempt to distinguish between no-brainers (difficulties at 0.2 or below) and outlandish guesses (difficulty 0.8 and up). If you’re looking for betting odds, I think the scale is probably logarithmic.

Sport

1. LeBron signed by Nets (difficulty 0.7)

LeBron James’ two priorities are to become a global icon and to win NBA championships; Cleveland isn’t helping with either. The Nets have the perfect market for him, the cap space to sign him, and an ownership group with personal connections to James.

2. Semenya and Pistorius ruled ineligible (difficulty 0.4)

I’m shocked that this hasn’t already happened, and it’s an absurdity of the legal process that either Caster Semenya or Oscar Pistorius were ever allowed to compete internationally. Athletics South Africa is a complete embarrassment.

My only caveat is that Semenya could regain eligibility through medical treatment.

Politics

3. Obama ends “don’t ask don’t tell” (difficulty 0.7)

It’s been a rocky first year for Obama, but he does seem to be working through his list of campaign promises: Guantanamo is shutting down (very slowly); he pushed through a stimulus-based economic plan (although perhaps not a very good one); he’s doing everything he knows how to reform health care (but doesn’t seem capable of the major overhaul he’d like).

He’s pushed back the issue of gays in the military, but I think he’ll face up to it this year. A typical Obama disappointment would be continuing to exclude openly gay soldiers from combat duty, but any elimination of don’t ask don’t tell would be an improvement.

Mobile Technology

4. Android becomes most popular OS; iPhone remains most profitable (difficulty 0.7)

Android just isn’t good enough to compete with the iPhone on the high end, but it’s easily good enough to displace Windows Mobile on smartphones at the low end of the market. And all phones are turning into smartphones.

5. AT&T loses iPhone exclusivity in US (difficulty 0.6)

It seems clear that Apple hasn’t worked anything out with Verizon for a CDMA version of the iPhone, which suggests they’ll stick with AT&T. But the iPhone is Apple’s most important product right now. AT&T is destroying the ownership experience in big cities in the US, and it’s getting worse. Steve Jobs isn’t going to let this continue: he cares about control, the ownership experience, and the image of the company more than he cares about squeezing a few extra dollars out of a subsidy contract.

6. Microsoft buys Pre (difficulty 0.9)

Windows Mobile is a dead end, and everyone but Microsoft knows it. The Palm Pre is a promising long-term platform, but it needs time to mature and time for the hardware to catch up—time Palm might not have the cash to live through. Microsoft’s best bet to stay relevant in the mobile computing space is to simply buy the Pre.

This would, however, require an admission from Microsoft that they’ve completely failed to innovate on their own, and that their rhetoric for the past few years has been bullshit. Such a major change of direction is much easier under an unassailable dictator like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs than under someone like Ballmer, who is currently in a very dicey political position.

It’s a long-shot prediction, but I’ll say Microsoft does it.

7. Apple Tablet released (difficulty 0.5)

I don’t have any predictions that would mandate a very high difficulty rating. My wish will come true, and Apple will ship a computer with a (roughly) A5 multitouch screen and no physical keyboard. It will ship before the third quarter (probably around April); it will be a lot more like an iPhone than like a Mac; it will do web, email, movies and ebooks; price will likely be something between $400 and $1000.

And I’ll most likely buy one as soon as they’re available.

Other technology

8. Microsoft fades even more… (difficulty 0.3)

Same prediction as last year: Google’s and Apple’s stock prices will outperform Microsoft’s.

9. iTunes gets live events (difficulty 0.7)

Apple has the best content-protected video-delivery service available. I predict that this year they extend their architecture to allow for live streaming video—e.g. sports and other live television events.

Financial

10. Price of gold declines (difficulty 0.5)

Over 1100 USD/oz? Ridiculous; the historical price of gold is closer to $400/oz. I have no clear idea of how quickly prices will come back down, so I’ll just go for a moderate-difficulty prediction that gold prices are under 1100 by this time next year. My guess is something around 800.

If I had any idea how to “sell gold” via eTrade I would.

11. Stock markets perform well (difficulty 1.0)

Everything up 20%: DOW at 12500, NASDAQ at 2700, S&P 500 at 1350. I could say I know this based on careful analysis of the markets, but instead I’ll claim magical powers over time and space. Just as meaningful.

Like last year, I’ll take partial credit for this prediction: a hit at difficulty 1.0 if I’m within 1%, 0.7 if I’m within 10%, 0.5 if I’m within 20%, etc. (Difficulty is given by e^(0.03963(1 - percenterror)).)