2010 Prediction Results

Another year is dead and gone, so I suppose it’s time to review my predictions for 2010:

1. LeBron signed by Nets (difficulty 0.7)

Wrong; LeBron James went to the Miami Heat, and only Chicago seemed at all competitive. On the bright side, I was right that he’d leave Cleveland.

2. Semenya and Pistorius ruled ineligible (difficulty 0.4)

Another swing and a miss. After a series of semi-secret tests and dealings, Semenya has retained all her medals and been cleared to compete. It’s possible that she’s agreed to undergo some form of treatment (as I suggested she might to regain eligibility), but I can hardly claim victory based on guesses about what’s going on behind the scenes.

As for Pistorius, there was a devastating report from two of the scientists who helped to overturn his initial ban: they claim that the science shows his prosthetics give him as much as a 10 second advantage over normal runners in a 400-meter race. Despite this, I don’t believe any ban has been handed down—I haven’t been following the story closely, but I don’t think Pistorius has tried to compete against traditional runners this season, so the issue hasn’t arisen. Still, my prediction missed the mark. 0 for 2 so far this year…

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

Just got this one in under the wire: the DADT policy has been repealed. Technically the military now has discretion to set its own policy and DADT is its legacy position (presumably to be phased out quite quickly), but the government policy is now over.

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

This was quite a vague prediction, and I came really close to getting it sort of right, but actually got it really, really wrong.

The “almost right” part was that Android would catch the iPhone: comScore’s numbers to 31 October showed a dead heat between Android and the iPhone, and if trends have continued then Android has already passed the iPhone in US market share. Even if a newer report could verify this, I never specified US market share only, so I’m only “almost” right here.

The “really wrong” bit is that I completely ignored RIM’s BlackBerry phones, which still have higher market share in the US than either Android or the iPhone. Whoops.

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

This is a tough one; Apple has inked the contracts with Verizon (amazingly enough, this “secret” information is so widely known that even I have inside sources to confirm it), but CDMA iPhones didn’t ship in 2010. Can we parse the words and say that AT&T’s “loss” occurred in 2010?

6. Microsoft buys Pre (difficulty 0.9)

I knew it was an outlandish guess at the time. My theory that Microsoft’s internal projects were doomed was heavily supported by the Kin fiasco, however Windows Phone 7 has received quite positive reviews, so I no longer think technology is the main problem. What’s more, the Pre has lost what little momentum it had when I made the prediction. We’ll see how/whether that platform translates to tablets.

In short, it was HP who snapped up Palm’s Pre platform, and even if it were up for sale today I don’t think it would be a good match for Microsoft.

7. Apple Tablet released (difficulty 0.5)

Considering how little we knew about the iPad at the time—and the number of different theories—you’ve got to give me credit for the specificity of my predictions here. I even hit the price range within $100 either side.

8. Microsoft fades even more… (difficulty 0.3)

Keep in mind that the efficient markets hypothesis suggests this should have had a difficulty of 0.5. Yet it seems rather obvious in hindsight.

Since last year Google’s share price has declined from $620 to $604 (-2.5%). Apple went from $215 to an astonishing $325 (+51%). Microsoft declined from $30 to $28 (-6.5%). I got this one right.

9. iTunes gets live events (difficulty 0.7)

I was wrong about this, and I think the reason I was wrong is clearer as the vision for the iOS platform has become clearer. While I still think that live events through iTunes would be a great feature, Apple seems comfortable with third parties creating their own streaming apps for DRM-laden media. I loathe that this means Flash on the desktop, but iPhone and iPad apps for watching live sports can be done decently, and iOS is more important to Apple right now than the desktop. As a result, there’s no great urgency for Apple to step in, and lots of worry from media companies about handing too much control to Apple’s media store empire.

With the Apple TV starting to emerge as more than a hobby for Apple, however, I must wonder at what point the media companies start thinking that handing over some control and doing content delivery via iTunes would be worth avoiding the need to maintain their own apps (and distribution infrastructure) for four different platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, and Apple TV).

10. Price of gold declines (difficulty 0.5)

My Microsoft prediction demonstrated by financial acumen; this prediction not so much. Gold was around $1100/oz when I made the prediction. It’s now around $1420/oz: a 30% rise.

My conclusion is that I just have no idea how to value gold. All the major currencies are doing weird things I don’t understand right now, so I guess gold could keep going up. But it’s been going way up for a long time, so maybe it should come down. Whatever.

11. Stock markets perform well (difficulty 1.0)

This one requires some arithmetic. I predicted rises of about 20% across the board: DOW at 12500, NASDAQ at 2700, S&P 500 at 1350. In fact, the DOW is at 11670 (6.7% below my prediction), the NASDAQ is at 2691 (just 0.3% below my prediction), and the S&P is at 1271 (5.9% below my prediction), for an average error of 4.3%. I call that pretty good, and according to my formula it counts as a hit at difficulty of 8.77. If I had written some bullshit explanation of my guess and avoided such round numbers for the targets then I’d look like more of an expert than all the investment advisors. Which, for all my ignorance, I probably am.

Final tally

I missed six (1, 2, 4, 6, 9, and 10), nailed four (3, 7, 8, and 11), and was kind of close on one (5). This is significantly below the 50% mark, but I focused on outlandish predictions for 2010, so I don’t feel that terrible about it. Live and learn.