My predictions for 2011 were my worst yet. Like last year, I don’t have many unique insights into the next twelve months. Unlike last year, however, I’m not going to try quite so hard to pretend I do. Here are six modest predictions for 2012:

1. Apple releases iPad 3

I feel almost silly doing the prediction since all the rumor sites are already treating all these details as a given, but I’ll repeat them anyway, partly because I very often don’t believe many of the things spouted by rumor sites: the iPad 3 will be released around March or April, and the major new feature will be a retina display (i.e. double the resolution of the current crop of iPads). I don’t have any real prediction on whether LTE support will be available, but I’d bet slightly against it.

2. Price of gold way down

This is my major financial prediction for 2012, and for once I’m actually backing it with nontrivial amounts of my own money—I’m shorting gold. I currently work in a building with a lot of people with strong backgrounds in finance. They all tell me I’m wrong and give a number of compelling reasons for the price of gold to keep rising. And yet every such argument both assumes the efficient markets hypothesis and utterly negates it. What’s more, all the worries I hear about inflation—even from those who make their living in finance—seem to completely misunderstand what the Federal Reserve does (and tries to do). Gold can’t continue to outperform everything forever. My personal bet isn’t restricted to 2012 (I’m willing to wait two or three years for the price to collapse), but I think chances are good that the slide will begin this year.

3–5. Microsoft and RIM get new CEOs.

There are three items here, so note that I’m predicting that neither Jim Balsillie nor Mike Lazaridis will be CEO at RIM by the end of the year. I’m also taking another stab at Balmer stepping down, which I’ve been predicting for a while. I have difficulty understanding how management teams so demonstrably unable to navigate the current technology landscape have survived so long. So for the record, this is a prediction based on lack of understanding. Always a solid foundation…

6. Obama wins

Meh; what do I know about politics. But it seems to me that a rich corporate candidate is quite vulnerable to Obama’s populist style. I don’t think “government is always job-killing” is going to fly in this election cycle, and without that the Republicans are in trouble.