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What are your predictions for 2006?

Around this time every year, the BBC News Interactive Technical Team holds an informal round of predictions for the coming year. We also look back on last year’s predictions and see who was right, who was wrong and who was simply way off base.

(Sadly “pay rises” are one prediction that always falls into the latter category of ‘way off base’ – ho ho)

I’ve included some of the team predictions from 2005 at the bottom of the post, but I thought I would offer my own predictions for 2006:


  • Apple release a “Media Centre” type computer – probably Intel CPU and based on the Mac Mini chipset. iTunes is ramped up into a serious television/movie gateway in addition to music.
  • Sony launches the PlayStation3 with a raft of media centre type functionality but people buy it for the games, the media centre aspect is a damp squib
  • PSP becomes the dominant portable media player – with paid-for subscription content being of mixed success against the availability of free content.
  • Virgin and NTL do merge, Richard Branson becomes interested in being a TV executive and starts to commission Virgin branded programming for IP, Cable (maybe mobile, but Virgin aren’t 3G).
  • World Cup is notable not because Spain win it, but because it’s Europe’s first real introduction to HDTV for many and also is the first major event to be pushed heavily as a podcasting event (possibly through paid subscription or for free with heavily advertised/sponsored casts).
  • P2P goes mainstream with the release of both computer-based products and set-top boxes that remove the complexity out of using Bit Torrent and similar networks. iTunes style software interface, and PVR style interface on set-top boxes.


  • Riya is bought by Yahoo! and merged into Flickr
  • Google begin putting advertising on maps (nearest Burger King, Citibank ATM, etc). With Google Maps being a popular remix ingredient, this move is indicative of future business models in the mash-up space.
  • The theoretics of the Attention Economy begin to be commercially exploited. Google (and others) launch product(s) that measure how we spend our time online in order to improve their understanding of how to advertise to us. This is sweetened with incentives – free wifi, free bandwidth or maybe cash – but ultimately people begin to push back on Google for the first time.
  • The speed of Internet access in the UK ‘slows down’ as the average monthly transfer soars from 3Gig/pm to 50gig/pm. UK ISP’s, being billed by their bandwidth usage in telephone exchanges by BT (and LLU provides), cannot continue to support ever growing amounts of P2P. They concentrate on revenue-generating services such as VoIP and use connectivity profiling and shaping to limit P2P, Usenet, downloads, etc (maybe only providing access via these kinds of connections at 25% of the user’s normal connection speed). This causes problems for content providers building on-demand IP-based services and generally frustrates users.
  • Microsoft ramp up their web-based acquisitions (maybe including a blog search engine) to ramp up a new-era MSN service and also to provide web-based platforms for Vista in 2007.

Last year’s accurate predictions from work include:

  • VoIP and particularly Skype becoming mainstream
  • Freeview (UK free digital TV) PVR’s released to match Sky Plus
  • Home media hubs beginning to make a way into people’s homes
  • 512kbps Broadband for less than £10pm
  • Mobile phones get 2 Megapixel cameras

Some no-so accurate predictions include:

  • At least one high profile blogger gets sued for libel or contempt of court
  • A certain major search engine suffers a major PR disaster
  • Computers get so cheap, broadband suppliers begin to give them away in the same way mobile phone companies subsidise mobile phone handsets

On the last point, I am surprised just how cheap computers have got this year. Before they tweaked their ranges for the Christmas rush, Dell UK were selling a computer for £250 inc VAT and shipping. It even included a monitor (albeit CRT). Factoring out the VAT that take the price down to £213. There’s an OEM copy of Windows XP Home in there too, that’s £61. So you’re talking about £150 to cover all the parts and the monitor, build it, support it for a year and ship it. Pretty keen if you ask me.

So, these are just some of my ideas for what might happen in 2006. Do let me know what you think will happen via the comments below…

Published in BBC News Website Thoughts and Rants Web Services


  1. Photar Photar

    # Computers get so cheap, broadband suppliers begin to give them away in the same way mobile phone companies subsidise mobile phone handsets

    AOL and MSN used to do that.

  2. Mark Scholes Mark Scholes

    Not a prediction but a question, how much does bandwidth actually cost ISPs? The only recent figure I’ve seen is Nerd TV saying they paid 16 cents/GB, which would mean about 9gbp for 100GBs of transfer.

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