Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012 Trends Report Card, Part IV

Here's Part IV of our report card of how we did with our 2012 predictions

 Ongoing stories we’ll see covered in the media
·         The 2012 election, healthcare, taxes and tax reform, and job creation.  The candidates, the process, the election as horse race, Super PACs, the strength and weakness of the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall St. movement (as well as the 99% vs. the 1%), and sometimes the actual issues. Grade: A – of course this was a gimme but it would have been odd to leave this one out.
·         The euro and euro zone economies and the debt crisis -- particularly troubled Greece and Italy and stable Germany and France -- and the impact of all of this on the US economy. Grade: B because while the EU economy did generate U.S.-based coverage, it was not as big a story in 2012 as it was in 2011.
·         Facebook’s IPO and its implications for the rest of the social media sector. Grade: A- because we did not predict that it’s IPO would be flawed.
·         The battle between Facebook v. Google+. (Interestingly, Twitter won’t be considered even an also-ran in this story.) Grade: B- because Google+ has not competed effectively with Facebook.
·         The battle between huge companies. Apple v. Google v. Microsoft. Oracle v. Everyone Else. Grade: B+ because we did not mention Apple v. Samsung.
·         The state of the media – because the media love reporting on their competitors as well as themselves. Grade: C because this was basically a non-story in 2012.
·         Online privacy will continue to be an important story. Grade: B, which would have been higher if we had linked online privacy with Facebook’s changing privacy policies. Sample New York Times article: “Facebook Changes Privacy Settings, Again.”
·         Online reviews – specifically whether they are from real customers who have bought the product or whether they are positive phony reviews paid to counteract real negative reviews – will generate coverage.  Grade: B- because while this generated some attention (like in a Mr. Know-It-All column in December’s Wired), this was not a big story.
·         The economics and environmental impact of fracking, an efficient but controversial way to extract oil and natural gas from shale. We expect climate science and global warming to be issues during the general election, specifically when discussing regulations. Grade: B.
·         Net-specific issues such as net neutrality (the need to prevent broadband providers from blocking access to competitors), the e-tax loophole (in which e-retailers don’t require customers to pay sales tax, which gives Amazon and others an advantage over bricks-and-mortar retailers that do charge customers sales tax), and anti-piracy legislation (Stop Online Piracy Act aka SOPA and Protect Intellectual Property Act aka PIPA). Grade: B+/A-. Sample Wall St. Journal article: “Cybersecurity Bills Duel Over Rules for Firms”; sample New York Times article: “Security Bills Bruised by Lingering Fight.”
·         Cyberattacks on B2C websites. As more high profile sites get hacked, expect more reports that reinforce fear and uncertainty of online commerce. Grade: A because this got a lot of attention this year. Sample Wall St. Journal article: “Cybersecurity 2.0: Encouraging companies and intelligence agencies to share information freely is a good first step.”
·         Cyberwarfare: the act of attacking one’s enemies by hacking. It’s happening on both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the US media has reported that China is using cyberwarfare against the US, including corporate espionage, so expect it to spread elsewhere. Grade: A+ because this got a lot of attention this year. Sample New York Times articles: “Asleep at the Laptop,” “Expert Issues a Cyberwar Warning,”Mutually Assured Cyberdestruction?,” and "U.S. Suspects Iran Was Behind a Wave of .”  Sample Bloomberg BusinessWeek article: "Life in Cyberia: A new brand of warfare is under way. Our five experts discuss the best defenses."  Forbes:  Gauss: Yet Another State-Sponsored Virus?” Bloomberg BusinessWeek: “Cyberwars Reach a New Frontier: the Airport.” Wall St. Journal: “Iran Blamed for Cyberattacks; U.S. Officials Say Iranian Hackers Behind Electronic Assaults on U.S. Banks, Foreign Energy Firms.”
·         The rising threat of Chinese businesses, the Chinese economy and the Chinese military. Grade: A because this got a lot of attention this year. Sample Wall St. Journal article: “FBI Traces Trail of Spy Ring to China” while Bloomberg BusinessWeek made this a cover story: "Inside the Chinese Boom in Corporate Espionage" and the New York Times reported: "The Electoral Math of Romney's Stance on Trade with China."
·         One story not likely to be covered for most of 2012: Tim Tebow. Not that his 15 minutes is up. Expect the media to regain its interest with the start of the next NFL season. Grade: C- because Tebow continued to generate media attention, though not at the level of 2011.

We'll issue more grades in tomorrow's post.

In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions or comments.

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