Friday, June 13, 2008

The Perils of Prophesy

Two predictions I've made in the past few years call into question why you're bothering to read this blog. Fortunately neither were published anywhere, so my credibility was safely in the hands of a few close friends and family. Well, until now anyway.

The first prediction was that Hillary Clinton would not run for president -- that she would do a Mario Cuomo, ducking out of the race early in the election cycle. In that case, I think my reasoning (which was all about positioning herself to be an LBJ-like Senate leader while avoiding a potentially damaging and draining White House campaign) was better than hers. But my prognosticating was obviously wrong. Journalists are almost always better off covering the news than they are predicting it.

My second lame prediction -- in a running e-mail argument with my friend Mark Potts early last year -- was that the Apple iPhone would be a flop. My contention was that the much-hyped devices were too expensive for normal gear-heads ($499-$599 when they debuted) and that AT&T's slow network and the inability to fully integrate with most office e-mail and calendaring systems would be a turnoff for those who could afford a gizmo in that price range.

Needless to say, history proved me wrong yet again.

I was thinking about both of those failed forecasts today when I sheepishly visited the AT&T store across the street from my office to ask about the cost of various voice and data plans for the newly announced second-generation iPhones, which go on sale next month. Access to a faster 3G data network and new enterprise software designed to tap commonly used office applications promise to solve the problems that I thought would sink the first-generation versions -- insurmountable as those "problems" turned out to be for poor Apple.

For the record, by this time a year ago, Hillary Clinton was nearing the end of her second-quarter fund-raising drive. When the quarter ended July 1, she had raised enough money ($52 million) to buy approximately 104,000 8-gig iPhones, which first went on sale two days earlier. But by then Barack Obama had a narrow 7,400-iPhone lead over Clinton in the fund-raising race. So by that measure, I can claim some sliver of vindication.


Anonymous said...

Dude, what'll you do with the ancient and venerable Motorola?

(It's a Motorola, right?)

Mark said...

Thanks, Joe. I'm actually carrying around my trusty Palm Treo 650 AND, for office e-mail, a BlackBerry 8700. (My Treo just did not cut it for work e-mail alas.) That's a lot of gizmo -- 11 ounces worth. I'm not sure I'll make the switch (waiting for early reports from users), but if I do decide to consolidate, my gizmo load goes down to 4.7 ounces -- a 6.3 ounce savings.

The iPhone3G is similar in length and width to the BlackBerry, but the difference in depth (0.3 inches) is the difference between a pocket-size device and wearing a nerd holster.

Mark said...

p.s. My loyalty to 2- to 3-year-old devices shows this "Futurist" to be a surprisingly late adopter. Or maybe I'm frugal. I just surround myself with friends who let me use their toys.

Anonymous said...

The noblest geek is the one who uses his skills to extend the life of his most precious gadget.

Anybody can go out and buy new stuff.

writermike said...

nice goin', nostradamus.

btw, i've just upgraded to a fool-proof tool kit: i now carry pen and paper.
i have to be a luddite; i can't afford to be a republican.