[Cringely] 2002 = The Year of XML.

Adam Rifkin adam@xent.com
Sun, 6 Jan 2002 05:11:12 -0800 (PST)

Apologies for the base64-encoded drivel.  I *hate* the Exchange IE client...

"It will probably be easy to label 2002 as The Year of XML"?!  I thought
*1997* was The Year of XML...


JANUARY 3, 2002        
The 70 Percent Solution
Bob's Predictions for 2002

By Robert X. Cringely

Each year at this time, I make predictions about what will happen in
high tech business during the next 12 months. It's not really that hard
to do if, like me, you read a lot, go to lunch a lot, and have smart
friends. My predictions are 70 percent correct, year after year. What I
got wrong the last time out was I wrote that the recession would be over
by now, that Microsoft would be a bad stock to own, and that Cisco would
be a good one. My other predictions, which included Microsoft settling
with the DoJ without requiring a break-up, were all correct. You can
find that column under the "Old Hat" button on this page or among the "I
Like It" links.

This year, I am going to do things a bit differently just because this
year feels different. There is a new feeling coming from the
laboratories and boardrooms, a feeling that has nothing to do with
terrorism and patriotism or even high tech, and has everything to do
with waking up from a long sleep and realizing that the blanket has
slipped off the bed and it is cold.

As we slouch through this recession, it is clear to me that corporate
arrogance is a problem that has afflicted us for sometime, but there are
signs of it weakening. Last year, when I predicted Cisco would do so
well, it was only weeks after I had sat through the company's European,
Middle East and African division sales meeting. At that moment, Cisco
executives were setting high goals and expecting to reach them. Only it
didn't work out that way. This made me realize even the most successful
companies don't have any greater insight, just better luck. Back in
October 2000, Cisco had basically no idea where it was really going,
just expecting that a corporate body in motion would tend to stay in
motion, that success would breed success.

Good companies learn lessons and not such good companies don't. It took
years of staggering losses and the hiring of an outsider for IBM to turn
around in the early 1990s. Big Blue has fared better than most of its
competitors in recent years, and it is entirely as a result of that
humbling. But losses and new blood aren't always enough. AT&T brought in
Michael Armstrong for exactly the same reason, and all he did was make a
$100 billion mistake. Same for Carly Fiorina at Hewlett-Packard, though
her loss was smaller. Great corporate names, both, and they are
threatened because of arrogance.

Now to this year's predictions: 

1. The dominant theme will be the continuing battle between evil and
evil as Microsoft expands its .NET strategy and the rest of the industry
responds. Look for further stratification as the banks come to realize
that Redmond's goal is to take a piece of every online transaction,
which is to say Microsoft intends to steal the banks' business. This is
a fundamental reworking of business that WILL happen over the next three
to five years.

2. The main technical tool for this reworking will be XML, and it will
probably be easy to label 2002 as the Year of XML. This new data
standard will be sprinkled on every type of software imaginable, whether
it makes sense to do so or not.

3. Look for emergence of an XML industry, which is to say a rash of new
startups built around XML services. Microsoft's dedication to the
standard in its relatively pure form makes this emergence
inevitable. The big XML hit for 2002 will come from a company called

4. KnowNow is a new company backed by Kleiner Perkins, the big venture
firm, and represents the resurgence of venture capital in 2002. Having
spent 2001 NOT investing money, the VCs this year have to either resume
investing their funds or get out of the business. Look for the former,
again thanks to XML, as the VC industry finds another type of business
to spawn than pawn off on us.

5. The resurgence of VCs can only come with a resurgence of the market
for Initial Public Offerings, which should happen by late spring.

6. Other hot IPO areas besides XML will include security (thanks to bin
Laden and Microsoft's continued incompetence in this area) and an
emerging niche called rich media.

7. XML is real, security is real, but rich media is not real -- at least
not in 2002. Just as the online music industry grew up around MP3, rich
media is built on MPEG-4, which is far more than just another video
codec. MPEG-4 is a framework for building new types of entertainment
that are more Internet-friendly. Beyond carrying traditional video,
MPEG-4 enables the creation of entertainment products made of up many
levels of artificial scenes, sets, even animated characters. It is the
entertainment of the future, but alas that future won't start in
2002. The problem is that embracing rich media means rejecting old media
and the tools aren't yet good enough to make that jump.

8. Rich media doesn't absolutely require broadband, but it sure
helps. And 2002 will be a pivotal year for broadband, which took a lot
of lumps in 2001 with the fall of companies like Northpoint, Rhythms,
Covad, and Excite@Home. What is key here is the deal for Cox Cable to
buy AT&T's cable TV unit. If that goes through (and I think it will),
Cox will try to make its big investment pay off by competing for local
and long distance phone service over its cable system. Other cable
companies will follow suit and the only way for the local phone
companies to fight back is with expanded DSL.

9. And Microsoft will make itself a part of every deal, everywhere, no
matter what happens with its anti-trust case. Quite simply, Microsoft
will take an equity position in every tech deal that's over $1 billion,
leveraging to the hilt its close to $40 billion cash hoard. Don't bet
against Microsoft in 2002. That is because, in addition to having deep
pockets, Microsoft owns the start page, the defaults, the windowing
environment, and the content standards. It turns out they also own the
traffic, the audience management, and if you're watching closely what
they're doing with Windows Media, they're going to force you to pay
licenses to show your own content on-line. Today, on the desktop,
tomorrow, on UltimateTV.

10. Finally, I think last year's prediction for Cisco Systems will come
true this year. I wrote "The answer to every problem with the Internet
will continue to be 'pay more money to Cisco.' At current prices the
stock is a bargain."

No, I don't own any Cisco stock.  


Web services are increasingly seen as an essential part of distributed
computing. Do web services replace existing technologies such as CORBA
and J2EE? Or are they complementary technologies, that build upon
existing systems to enable entirely new ways of communication? This
presentation will summarise the key "lessons learned" by Cape Clear and
its customers since mid-1999. Topics to be covered will include: How web
services relate to CORBA and J2EE; Using web services to widen access to
existing enterprise systems; Lessons learned from web service
integration; Building new web services: where do CORBA and J2EE fit;
Future opportunities - what forthcoming web service standards and
technologies will mean for enterprise users.
  -- Hugh Grant, Cape Clear Software, http://www.omg.org/news/meetings/Web_Services_2002/program.htm

To follow the path:
look to the master,
follow the master,
walk with the master,
see through the master,
become the master.
  -- http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html