Reviewing 2016 Tech Predictions
I was right about Microsoft closing the gap between itself and AWS, but I was wrong to say that Java 9 would ship in 2016.
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It’s that time of the year again when I make predictions for the upcoming year. As has become my tradition now for nigh-on a decade, I will first go back over last years’ predictions to see how well I called it (and to keep me honest), then wax prophetic on what I think the new year has to offer us.
As per previous years, I’m giving myself either a +1 or a -1 based on purely subjective and highly biased evaluation criteria as to whether it actually happened (or in some cases at least started to happen before 2016 ended).
Bear with me for a moment, though. This is just too good.
In 2015, I said:
Microsoft will acquire Xamarin. Oh, baby. Off by a year. I should go back and give myself a +1 for this one. It was really surprising that they hadn’t. As a matter of fact, if Microsoft had listened to me and done it in 2015, they’d probably have saved themselves a ton of money compared to what they actually paid for Xamarin in 2016. However, they made the acquisition, Xamarin is now part of the Microsoft family, and (finally!) .NET developers have access to the Xamarin toolchain and can build native iOS and Android apps without having to shell out additional cash to do so. ‘Bout time, Microsoft. (I suspect this had everything to do with Satya, to be honest.)
OK, gloat over.
In 2016, I said:
Microsoft will continue to roll out features on Azure and start closing the gap between it and AWS. Calling this one a +1. It doesn’t take much research to see this was definitely happening in 2016. However, it’s not necessarily a true statement that they’ve been closing the gap; Amazon keeps adding stuff, as well, and the feature-parity lists are starting to get ridiculous. Whether these features are actually of use, however, is an important distinction, and something for the second half of this post.
(X)-as-a-Service providers will continue to proliferate. Oh my, yes, Ted gets another +1 for this. When running a gaming convention has an (X)-as-a-Service for it (seriously, here), then you know the proliferation is in full swing. PaaS providers are exploding everywhere, and while a few have disappeared (farewell, Parse!), it’s clear that this was the gold rush of 2016.
Apple will put out two, maybe three new products, and they’ll all be “meh” at best. I should’ve broken this into two predictions: one about Apple’s “meh” products, and one about wearables. If I’d done that, I’d have scored two +1s for it, because not only have wearables not really gone very far (show me somebody wearing a smart watch, and I’ll show you a geek with too much time on their hands and not enough “discrimination” in their discriminatory income), but Apple’s product releases have been meh. I’m looking at you, iPhone 7, and I’m really looking at you, MacBook Pro. (When Consumer Reports doesn’t give the MBP its top rating, you know the luster has failed.) More on Apple in the second half.
iOS 10 will be called iOSX. Dangit. Such an opportunity wasted. -1.
Android N will be code-named “Nougat.” Why, hello there, Android 7.0 Nougat. So pleased to make your acquaintance. +1.
Java 9 will ship. As I noted last year, @olivergierke pointed out that Java 9 had already slipped to 2017, so this one was already a -1. Sigh. And I called it a “no duh” event, too — I’m going to let this one cancel out the extra +1 I’d have given myself for the Apple and wearables thing, just to keep the math safe (and my ego relatively sized). The article he cited says that Oracle “blamed the delay on complexities in developing modularization,” a la Project Jigsaw.
Facebook will start looking for other things to do. Well, it’d be really tempting to say that Facebook’s now “things to do” was to be the deciding factor in who gets elected by passively encouraging the widespread dissemination of fake news and outright falsehoods, but seriously, who would’ve believed that even if I had predicted it? Which I didn’t. -1.
Google will continue to quietly just sort of lay there. A year ago, I wrote:
“Google, for all that they are on the top of everybody’s minds since that’s the search engine most of us use, hasn’t really done much by way of software product invention recently. I suspect the same will be true of 2016 — they will continue to do lots of innovative things, but it’ll all be “big” and “visionary” stuff, like the Google Car, that won’t have immediate impact or be something we can use in 2016 (or 2017).”
And...yeah. +1. There's more emphasis on the existing products they’ve built, but as a company, they’ve clearly spent most of 2016 on the Alphabet and Google restructure (which accomplished what, exactly?), and anything new has been either way quiet or way removed from the business.
Oracle will quietly continue to work on Java. A year ago, I wrote:
“[Oracle is not] going to kill it, but there’s really not a whole lot of need to go around preaching its message, either. So, they let the evangelists go, and they’ll just keep on keepin’ on.”
Score a +1 for the long-haired geek in Seattle; they just keep posting new code.
C# 7 will be a confused morass. If we permit me the freedom to call it “.NET Core” instead of just “C# 7,” then wow, do I get a +1 on this one! Even if I just constrain my prediction to C# 7 and Roslyn, I still score one, but once you throw in the CoreCLR and “dotnetcore” and the different profiles and…holy spaghetti web browser history, Batman! The demarcation lines of the different project teams working on this whole thing are starting to become really clear as the different OSS projects each look really consistent within themselves, but when you get to the borders, things just fall apart.
Another version of Visual Basic will ship and nobody will really notice. Alas, there was no new version of Visual Basic, since it would be in lockstep with the release of C# 7 (which didn’t ship), but nobody really noticed. Or cared. Still, nothing shipped, so -1.
Apple will now learn the “joys” of growing a language in the public as well. First, there was Swift 2, which was itself source-incompatible with Swift 1, and then during the summer, Apple shipped Swift 3, which was source-incompatible with Swift 2, owing to some language changes that the community effectively decided was necessary. +1. (Thanks for that, by the way — made teaching iOS this Fall a royal PITA.)
Ted will continue to layer in a few features into the blog engine. You’ve got comments! And I’ll take that +1, thank you very much.
Nine up (ten, if we count my Xamarin prediction from 2015), four down. Not bad. Next time, we'll move on to the more interesting part of this two-part series: 2017 predictions. Stay tuned for that post.
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