The countdown to Black Friday has begun, and all of the bloggers, analysts, and observers are starting to roll out their predictions for 2013. There's a mixed bag out there, with some real visionaries hitting the mark, and some that just don't quite get it; but regardless, it's time to throw in my own two cents. From where I sit (here in the Industrial Midwest in my office overlooking a fifty-year-old empty auto factory where they used to manufacture Studebakers), here's the first installment of ten predictions of what I see coming in the next year:
1. 2013 will be the year of crowdfunding for tech startups. Early in 2013, the SEC will pass the final rules for equity-based crowdfunding, giving rise to a big wave of crowdfunding platforms that allow startups to offer equity to the masses without having to go through a costly IPO. The new model, which I call an "Initial Crowd Offering" or ICO, will provide a new infusion of cash to startups that have previously been unable to obtain financing through traditional sources (banks, VCs, "friends and family"), which is pretty much all of them lately. Sites like Kickstarter laid the groundwork here, but have been limited in scope, offering only a platform for mostly creative projects seeking donations. The new crowdfunding will legitimize crowdfunding, bring Wall Street to Main Street, and usher in a new wave of entrepreneurial activity.
2. Home entertainment gets personal. The television commercial of the dorky guy wearing a dish around his head implies that people are getting tired of dish, but the fact is, people are getting tired of cable, too. Over-the-top products like Trova will change the game by giving people more direct control over their home entertainment. Bundles and packages are yesterday's game. Who wants 150 channels when you really only watch five? The new wave of home entertainment will go far beyond simple programming, incorporating access to movies, apps, social media, and much more, all from a single screen and with a single remote. These OTT projects will also become more interactive, allowing users to not only view, but to share their own content; giving rise to a new wave of indie producers and game developers who will enjoy a new platform.
3. Developing for the cloud, in the cloud. We can't say that 2013 will be the "year of the cloud," since that designation has already come and gone. It's now the decade of the cloud, and everyone has already acknowledged that it's useful, it's secure, and it's a new business model that is already changing the game. The need for more cloud apps—including personal, SMB, and enterprise—is evident, as more organizations look to migrate to the cloud. Developers are realizing now that simply bolting on cloud functionality to legacy apps isn't the way to go, and they are turning to platform-as-a-service offerings like SaaS Maker, just released this week, to create applications for the cloud from the very beginning.