I would have bet my beloved iPhone at the start of 2008 that two products doomed to failure were the electronic book Kindle and the follow-me technology Twitter. Sure as Hillary Clinton was going to win the democratic presidential nomination, Kindle and Twitter were soon to join the Newton, iSmell (photo at left), and the Free-PC on the Technology Pile of Irrelevance.
Kindle was the easy prediction. Electronic books always fail, just like claims for the "paperless office" and long-lasting batteries. And Twitter? I didn't get it. Whose life narratives would I want to follow in short message bursts? Didn't we already kill off text pagers?
Turns out, of course, that both products/technologies appear on the cusp of becoming mainstream hits over the next few years. Having used neither, the reason for their success escaped me -- until I read a recent post from Harvard Business School professor Andy McAfee, My Two Top 2008 Technologies.
Here is what he had to say on why he has become a big fan of both.
On the Kindle "The Kindle adds essentially nothing to the weight of my carryon and takes up very little room, but solves one of my nastiest travel problems. I like to travel light, but have a near-phobia about being trapped on the road without something good to read. This meant that even on a short trip I'd take enough books to start a decent library.... I now travel with nearly 30 digital books (the current total on my Kindle) and can get more at any time, at a total weight of just over 10 ounces."
On Twitter "It's ... been a great way for me to meet people and learn more about them, to renew old ties and strengthen current ones, to ask questions and get amazingly interesting and helpful answers, and to immerse myself in a community of friends even when I'm in modern society's least friendly places: airport terminals, chain hotel rooms, trains, deserted restaurants, my desk in the middle of some workdays, etc."
So here's your chance to become a better predictor of Technology Future than I. What do you think will catch fire in the new year? What technology is over-hyped and headed for a fall?