Nostradamus Revisited

Last year, for the first issue of the year, I played Nostradamus, and pledged to write a follow up 12 months later. Here we go with the results.

1. There will continue to be growth through 2002. Companies will report progress, the stock market will continue to grow. Biotechs will surge, and home traders (people using the likes of e-trade), will re-enter the market in great numbers.

There was very slight growth, especially in the second half of the year, but hometraders definitely did not come back in force.

2. Traditional PC vendors will be forced to innovate more than ever in the past. There will be less and less compelling reasons to upgrade existing tools at all, hardware or software wise, until voice recognition becomes truly feasible. Vendors who produce “new age” devices – cell phone / PDA’s and the like will jockey for position in the coming market explosion.

Well, the Tablet computers arrived. Does anyone you know has one? I’d like to, I would even write a review on it, because I think it’s a great concept. Next generation cell phones are here! Yawn. Do you need to upgrade from a P-III 800 mhz to a P-4 2 ghz? It sure starts up quicker.

3. Security against viruses will be put to the test. We have tasted a foreshadowing of what’s coming. We will see increasing calls for comprehensive Internet legislation. As the Internet continues to become more critical to the lives of millions around the world, there will be less and less tolerance for cyber crime.

Actually, maybe it’s because 2001 was so bad, but 2002 seemed downright calm. Hopefully it wasn’t the calm before the storm.

4. There will be impetus for greater enforcement of penalties for cyber-crimes caused by the damage done by viruses. This is especially true as people become more and more dependent on the net for essential data delivered not just to their desktops, but also to their palm pilots, cell phones, etc. Copyrights, fraud, (credit card and other) vandalism, and cyber-terrorism will be key factors in what may end up being a major review of existing legislation, and the creation of proper legislative and judicial processes for this worldwide industry. Something that was largely nonexistent 10 years ago. The Internet is the backbone of the modern economy. It should be protected as such.

Nope. Nothing new. Completely wrong. See # 3. It’s really a crime that no attention is being paid to these issues which cost the economy billions every quarter.

5. Someone will find a new solution to spam – and new forms of spam will emerge.

Yes! Pop-ups have become worse than ever. They are the bane of my online existence. I won’t visit some web sites anymore because of the pop-ups. I’m not talking about adult sites, but things like I know about orbitz, why do I have to click off another on of their pop-ups every time I want to read an article? Then of course we saw the pleas for help. Migrate to the Internet from the fax machines. Who didn’t hear the pleas from Nigeria, Lagos, Brunei, etc…? My email now has 250 filters just to keep this junk out.

6. Companies that have survived to date will continue to do so. Some will turn the corner and start generating real profits, some will be purchased or merge with others for their value in niche markets or technical superiority. The meltdown we have seen the last 18 months has for all intents passed.

Not too many Internet companies really failed this year. Many did announce profits, and a lot of mergers happened. At the end of the year Yahoo! bought Inktomi for 235 million USD. Not bad. Not good news for Google though.

7. Wireless will continue to lead the future growth and direction of the Internet – Outside of North America. Limited wireless access will make its first viable foothold in North America, but will wait until 2003 before becoming prevalent. Wireless will lead the way in Europe and Asia – it’s a cost effective way to deliver access. Better build more web sites with this in mind.

I was way ahead of myself. I still believe this is true, but I think we’re still 18 – 24 months out.

8. Telecoms will get it right. Long the slowpokes of the hosting industry, Telecoms will lead the way by adopting cutting edge technologies for their end users. They will deliver a greater range of hosting solutions, responsive to clients needs.

They are getting it right. They are making the necessary changes, but the effects will only be felt in another year or so.

9. How data is presented will come to be recognize as one of the crucial disciplines in Web site design. A thing of beauty will have to be functional too. This means the sheer number of web sites, pages, access points and portals will force site builders and creators to place greater emphasis on getting their site classification, meta data, navigation and internal search tools right. With all the wireless users coming online, there will be less and less interest in surfing and a greater interest on getting there the first time. Get your web site optimized.

Yes. The search engines have more than doubled their index sizes in the last year. Optimizing a web site is more crucial than ever.

10. In a change from the past, standardization will make a meaningful foothold in the search engine optimization industry. Standardization among the search engines that is. They will look at more and more ‘markers’ but will no longer exclude certain ones, or ignore properly presented data. They will still use varying scales to measure value, but will look more and more at standardized sources for information.

Oddly enough, this is true of the search engines, but less true of the “opinion makers” in the SEO industry. These “leaders” are arguing more than ever about basic standardization, whilst the search engines have refined their algorithms and read more standardized data than ever before.

11. Microsoft’s battle with the Justice Department will not be as easily settled as once thought. Someone will realize that you don’t punish a company for being a “monopoly” by forcing schools to adopt their technology – How does that help? Yes I know it’s free, but it makes no sense. BTW, I like Microsoft, but this still makes no sense.

This has kind of dropped off the radar. In case you were wondering, it’s still not settled.

12. Someone will believe the world is flat and that the Sun orbits around the Earth.

This was a sure thing. I’d bet on it again this year. What do Raelians believe in?


In a bit of stunning news that was perfectly timed to go unnoticed, Yahoo! ( acquired Inktomi ( for $235 million in late December. Yahoo!, which is still the #1 web site on the Internet just bought perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle that it did not already outright control.

Yahoo! has for years outsourced its search engine results. For a time, search results were pulled from Altavista, then Inktomi got the contract, and two years ago, the contract went to Google. Until recently, Yahoo! delivered search results first from its own database, and then from the search engine results. However, in the last 6 months we’ve seen that change to the point where a search is run on Yahoo!, the results are displayed as follows:

1) first 3 results are from Overture (pay for placement listings),

2) Then Google results,

3) Then Yahoo! directory results.

This change was significant for a number of reasons, most importantly because Yahoo’s own internal results, (for which a web site operator paid $299 per year to maintain in the database), were now at the bottom of the heap. Google’s results which were free to the advertiser were acknowledged as more important to the end user, and thus more valuable. Yahoo! had made a discovery. People were willing to pay to get listed in the search engines, but people were also not willing to sort through irrelevant results. Thus Yahoo! gave Google precedence. This change probably had an effect on the number of people willing to spend $299/year on Yahoo! Yahoo! needed to make up this lost revenue.

Around the same time Yahoo! changed how its results would be presented, Google signed an agreement with AOL to provide AOL search results. AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! are the 3 largest portals on the web, but AOL and MSN are also two of the largest service providers. AOL and MSN had both been powering their search results from Inktomi, and both had Overture paid results as well. AOL needed to differentiate itself, so made the jump to Google. Suddenly Yahoo! found itself no longer quite so unique. It needed to take action as well.

How this will play out in the long run will be interesting. Yahoo! now owns the search engine that powers Microsoft’s MSN network. It should be expected that Inktomi search will replace Google in the middle of this year, when that contract runs out. It may also affect Google’s IPO plans for the year. Yahoo! should continue to build on Inktomi’s search capabilities. It’s an outstanding engine, and has a sustainable revenue stream. $39.00 / year is a price any web site operator can afford. The search tool has had great coverage into a variety of engines, and although this has slipped in coverage recently, it should help Yahoo! grow again as a force on the Internet. Quite a change for a company that many thought was finished a little over a year ago.

One final change to watch for is who will supply MSN with their results in the future? Right now it’s Overture for the first 3, then Looksmart, and lastly Inktomi. I’ll keep my eye on FAST. It powers Lycos, and Alltheweb, has a comparable database to Inktomi, and is FASTer than Google.