December 31, 2008, 5:23 PM — Countless people are trying to predict what 2009 could hold for the world of technology. Of course, it's all just guesswork -- these pundits aren't working with a crystal ball. So we decided to find someone who was.
We turned to two self-proclaimed psychics to get their takes on what's ahead for some of tech's biggest newsmakers in the new year. We received readings from Silicon Valley's surname-shunning Celia and L.A.'s "psychic angel," Shaun Moore. (Miss Cleo was unavailable -- last we heard, she was selling used cars in South Florida.)
Below, we've pitted the psychics' stances against some less clairvoyant conjectures. Check out the predictions for yourself and see which seem the most sensible. You can leave a comment if you'd like, but we suspect the psychics already know what you're thinking.
On Steve Jobs
â€¢ TheStreet.com's David Sterman: Jobs will give up the title of Apple CEO and remain only as chairman. He'll "realize that investors are overlooking Apple's management bench strength."
â€¢ Psychic Celia: Jobs has tough times ahead, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. "I see that there's a big struggle, then I see very good news coming for him at the middle of the year."
â€¢ Psychic Shaun: He needs to focus more on his home life to improve his condition. "His personal life is in the toilet bowl ... and that's causing his health to suffer."
It can't be making things easy for the cleaning lady, either.
â€¢ TheStreet.com's David Sterman: Apple's shares will fall in the beginning of '09 but rebound when the "next breakthrough device" debuts in the latter half of the year. The iPhone will also see "a range of hot-selling new uses."
â€¢ Psychic Celia: A significant shift is on the way. "I do see that the company will go a step higher. I see that there are a lot of changes coming."
â€¢ Psychic Shaun: Changes are coming, but they won't be quick. "There's someone that they're speaking to now, someone who will go in and clean things out."
Clean things out, you say? Maybe they can start with Steve's bathroom.
On Jerry Yang
â€¢ The staff of The Industry Standard: Yang could take on yet another new title: chief technology officer of the United States. Jerry's popped up on some lists of possible contenders for the gig, but the Standard points out that the sources may or may not be reliable.
â€¢ Psychic Celia: The chief Yahoo-turned-CEO-turned-chief Yahoo will take on some sort of fresh role. "I see that he will be going into a new field, into a higher step next year."
â€¢ Psychic Shaun: Yang will leave the rest of the yahoos at Yahoo behind. "If I had a dollar, I would invest my dollar back into him. He's going to be on the brink of something brand spanking new that's going to be a wow factor."
Of course, it might be "wow" as in, "Wow. Good thing that guy's not in charge any more."
â€¢ Computerworld's Nancy Weil: Sale, most likely to Microsoft. It could either be an acquisition of Yahoo's ad-search business by itself, or possibly a full company deal.
â€¢ Psychic Celia: Maybe a sale, but definitely an improvement. "I see that someone will step in and it's going to work out for the best. The company will get better this coming year."
â€¢ Psychic Shaun: Sale, possibly to an investor. "It's going to be sold one way or another."
Ah, sweet agreement -- three for three on a probable sale. The stars must be aligned tonight.
On Bill Gates
â€¢ Curious Office Partners' Kelly Smith: The Microsoft chairman might get the government nod for the nation's first chief technology officer. "[He] understand[s] how to think about technology on a massive scale."
â€¢ Psychic Celia: Something good will happen on April 16th. "I see a lucky day and a lucky star falling for him. There's going to be a lot of joy and a lot of warmness in his heart that day."
â€¢ Psychic Shaun: Gates will start looking for new projects, which may or may not involve legumes. "He's got to spread out into other venues, and he has a couple of ideas. His tree needs to be implanted with different roots so it can prosper in different little mini-pea pods."
Is anyone else suddenly craving fresh salad?
On Windows 7
â€¢ Computerworld's Nancy Weil: Windows all the way in 2009 -- but not till late 2009. "We'll also be so bold as to predict it will be a vast improvement over Vista. ... [It] will be well-received and help Microsoft regain some of the operating system edge it lost in 2008."
â€¢ Psychic Celia: The new OS will be a hit. Don't expect to see it until the middle of the year, though.
â€¢ Psychic Shaun: Seven's the lucky number. "It should work. What they're doing is they're reinventing the seed."
Here's hoping that seed produces some nice pea pods.
â€¢ ZDNet's Garett Rogers: Google's Chrome browser will grab as much as 15 percent of the browser market as it begins being preinstalled on new PCs. Google will also see solid financial gains. "The share price should close in the green for 2009."
â€¢ Psychic Celia: Google's going to grow three times bigger. "There's a company that'll get involved with Google that will make it go that much higher this year. It will be a company that advertises."
â€¢ Psychic Shaun: Google's growth is going to slow -- unless it finds the right new idea. "They need to come up and do something that's going to knock it out of the ballpark."
Just don't knock it out too far, Google gang. Bill Gates is implanting roots next door.
â€¢ SPAMfighter's Martin Thornberg: The solution's not quite in sight. "Spam's penetration of the Internet globally is still below 22 percent, so there are bound to be many new targets for spammers in 2009 and beyond."
â€¢ Psychic Celia: Get ready for lots of junk mail, but maybe some relief a couple of years down the road. "I see in 24 months, it will start changing and will slow down."
â€¢ Psychic Shaun: A new agency will pop up to oversee spam and find a solution. "We have the FDIC on the bank. We're going to have that kind of company as far as the computer's concerned."
They'll just have to be careful what they call that group. The Federal Union for Communication Control might pose problems when it comes to a logo.
Acronym issues aside, we did it -- the future's been told. Well, maybe. I'll leave that up to you to decide. If you feel like your brain needs to be cleansed with some more scientific tech predictions, skip over to this PCWorld.com page for a slightly less speculative approach.
As far as this story goes, the crystal ball showed one other strange prediction: that I would end the piece with an obvious and uninventive joke. A mildly amusing attempt at humor? Me? Oh, come on -- like they'd know. What do these people think they are, psychics or something?