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12/15/2006
05:24 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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What Does 2007 Promise?

Earlier this week, futurist and technology guru Mark Anderson hosted his annual SNS New York dinner, a high-level gathering of VCs, investment bankers, journalists, technology entrepreneurs, and others, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Earlier this week, futurist and technology guru Mark Anderson hosted his annual SNS New York dinner, a high-level gathering of VCs, investment bankers, journalists, technology entrepreneurs, and others, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.Mark opened his annual prognostication fest with the warning, "This is not a speech," and proceeded to offer his thoughts on the current shape of the global economy and technology market. Mark claims that his predictions carry a 93% accuracy rating, so don't be too quick to dismiss him out of hand.

Anderson started with the observation that the US and global economies in 2007 will be defined by three things, "Oil, cheap labor, and money," three things over which the US has no control.

On the technology front, Anderson differentiated between Microsoft, a company that is "making plumbing," and Google, a "river of money." This means that Microsoft makes technology that businesses and consumer need for everyday tasks while Google is sitting on top of a macro-trend as advertising dollars drift online.

Anderson stressed that "plumbing money" is different than ad money and that the differences in money would continue to define these two companies. Countering prevailing thinking, Anderson said that Microsoft isn't going anywhere. He also repeated an earlier warning about Google, calling it one of the "most fragile" financial structures ever.

In terms of the other big tech showdown - Microsoft vs. Apple - Anderson warned that iTunes could start to run out of steam by the end of 2007, thanks in large part to consumer issues with the company's copy protection technology.

2007 will, according to Anderson, be a year of transitions. Transitions for new alternative fuel sources, for the continued shakeout of the US real estate market, and for media advertising. Money will flow from real estate to the stock market and many markets will be "places of confusion."

On a financial note, Anderson opined that the Federal Reserve no longer has the tools it needs to control the US economy. He pointed out a potentially scary trend: Commercial banks have stopped following the cues from Fed. What does this portend for the financial markets? Stay tuned.

Anderson capped off the night his 2007 list of predictions. Here is a quick run-down of what the year could hold:

1. Money Goes Mobile: Anderson predicted that 2007 would see the first market application of mobile payments in the US. Technologies like NFC will allow wireless carriers to turn cell phones into mobile wallets. This will create a battle between Visa and Mastercard on side and the carriers on the other.

2. Authentication Everywhere: Identification and authentication technology will proliferate, driven by concerns over terrorism and, more importantly, identity theft. Everyone is going to need to know that you are really who you say you are.

3. Led by Tesla: Tesla Motors, the car, not the inventor. 2007 could shape up to the be the year of the electric car, Anderson predicted, thanks in large part to continued high oil prices.

4. Oil Goes up to $70 a Barrell: Oil prices will be high and, as a result solar power will start to go mainstream.

5. Online Advertising Continues to Grow: The online ad market could grow by as much as 30% in 2007.

6. The Dollars Falls Against the Euro/Yen: The US dollar will continue its slide against foreign currencies.

7. Welcome to the New Cold War: 2007 will be the year Putin's Russia, a place Anderson dubbed "thugland," brings Cold War tension back to the headlines. No one is ready for a belligerent or at least malignant Russia and this trend could have a big impact on both politics and business.

8. Parallel Computers Take Off: 2007 will be the year of parallel processing goes mainstream.

9. Year of the Flash Wars: Get ready for flash-based PCs with no disk drives of any kind.

10. iPod Maintains Dominion of Digital Music: But iTunes looks vulnerable at the end of 2007.

Check back next year at this time to see if Mark continues his winning streak.

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