Prognostications 2006
From Brian Fitzgerald



small is finally becoming the new big:
like everything else, it started in asia, got westernized in europe in the 80s/90s, and has caught hold in the the northeast and bay area. the indicator that we realize we are reaching the tipping point is that America realized the introduction of the audi a3 in 2005, the hottest car going in Europe for the past decade. 2006 will mark the year that smaller is better will “start” to happen in the mainstream US – there will be more h3s sold than h2s. don’t hold your breath, though - it will take 5 years for this to really take hold all over the country, so expect your boring “mansionization” to continue in the Midwest for a while. 

Open source:
First it was code (aesoteric, chosen few, untouchable) editing operating system software, then wikis for global documents (encyclopedias), now project management (localized, private documents) – we have only begun to scratch the surface of open source. If you think about it, open sourcing is not a new idea, it’s a DESIGN FEATURE of the internet – something that the internet is inherently good at. In 2006, we’ll see this idea start to transcend technology, and move more into other categories - fund raising for politics, idea building, petitioning, open source democracy for decision making among small factions, disaster relief, research, and so on… 

Baby boomers turn 60:
Things have already started to change; the obvious issues are debt and healthcare. This will be felt most acutely in france in 2006, where the state-pension age is 60. younger generation will de facto need to become aware of the issues, though it will cut into our upwardly , consultants will increase as more baby boomers will want to work part time in their waning years with their employers. Some niche publication will launch in ’06, targeting sons and daughters of the boomers. 


·         NBA – san antonio

·         NCAA hoops - uconn

·         NFL - colts

·         MLB –Yankees

·         FIFA - italy

·         Tour de france – ivan basso



·         NCLB ensures that the US will keep their eye off the ball.

·         The most interesting attempts at ed reform will be generated from the bill and Melinda gates foundation – though sadly, high schools will still struggle and % of students that graduate will decrease.

·         Leapfrog’s fly pentop computers will become kids’ choice as the most sought after educational toy.

·         Crisis of boys in American schools will gain prominence, as its becoming clear that male identity for today’s generation is in crisis – males are in more danger than ever of negatively impacting society, so this will gain some attention at the department of ed.

·         podcasting becomes an important trend in delivery of information in higher ed. Ipods become a viable med for improving teaching and learning in schools.


·         first major crime will be reported using google maps as a key tool to carry out the crime

·         Security at airports will continue to underwhelm; though one will now be able to carry a scissors onto a plane, unfortunately we’ll witness another major disaster involving a new idea that does not happen to be on the short list of “dangerous things”

·         With San Francisco move towards a true cost model in 2005 (the first city in the US to enact legislation requiring the use full-cost accounting principles to guide city purchasing, considering environmental and health costs in addition to material costs - 2 other major US cities will follow suit, kicking off a national dialogue about the effectiveness of gross domestic product as an effective measure of productivity. This will tee up a platform issue for the democratic part in 2008.

·         A bill will be introduced, suggesting that the age to be eligible for social security is teathered to life expectancy statistics.

·         No decline in oil prices from 2005. oil companies will hang onto profits.

·         soviet union will continue to tailspin, with another major governmental scandal not quite the scale of the scale of yukos.

·         A major private Chinese university will be unveiled.

·         US will remain in iraq, though there will be a modest reduction in the number of troops, on the scale of 10%.

·         according to the millennium ecosystem assessment (a deep analysis by 1,360 of the worlds top scientists), 2/3 of the ecosystem services on which human society depends are being degraded or used unsustainably, a trend that continues to worsen. Consumption-driven economics essentially drive this trend. In 2005, storms and floods claimed more than 300,000 lives and cost at least 100 billion dollars in damage, including the tsunami in Asia, the earthquake in Kashmir, the hurricane in New Orleans. In 2006, george bush will sadly decline to address these issues as he rides out his term, though scrutiny by Americans will increase as a result of international pressure (throwing oil on the fire of bush’s declining approval rating).


·         I am re-upping my prognostication from last year - Savvy Japanese manufacturers will spend record dollars investing in Chinese manufacturing in 2006. it will take years for American ego to get there. 

·         In an attempt to improve a tarnished image,Walmart will make a feeble gesture to improve their heath care benefits for employees – the effect will be nominal.

·         merck will spring back from the vioxx scandel with their new company structure, regaining profitability – shares will gain 20% in 2006

·         new york times recently reported that “despite a widespread sense that real estate has never been more expensive, families in the vast majority of the country can still buy a house for a smaller share of their income than they could have a generation ago – attributable to drop in mortgage rates since the early 1980's, a decline in mortgage fees and a rise in incomes have more than made up for rising house prices in almost every place outside of New York, Washington, Miami and along the coast in California” – given this, real estate growth may end up slowing in 2006 nationally, but the prime real estate locations will hardly notice a difference.

·         One major indicator that consumer and national debt is too high in America (likely a public lack of confidence from a major international power) will trigger a minor panic in America.

·         starbucks will continue its slide into a “service” organization – seeking to drive revenue by increasing average order value among its existing customers. Attempts at cross selling other products, however, will be hit and miss – there is a limit to what people will buy in a starbucks. “next guest, please.”



·         Social entrepreneurship will hit its stride in 2006 – with jeff skoll, co-founder of ebay leading the charge. Young, single, billionare under the age of 40. among a host of important social ventures, his org, Participant productions, is one of the most meaningful organizations to emerge in 2005. responsible for “good night and good luck” “syriana”, they are using “Hollywood style” firepower to influence the world to think about issues HE thinks are important– his success will encourage other weathy young folks to throw their hat in the ring with their own ideas for mixing hard-lined business principals balanced with measure for social good.

·         A national study will be released that will catch the American public by surprise – that despite our 25 year health kick and more recent growth in “organic” and “natural” food consumption, obesity among young people is even worse than a generation ago. 

·         June 17, 2006 will be a sunny day (the day I get married!) 


·         Ipod will loose market share this year to iriver or creative labs.

·         Yahoo will buy a gaming company.

·         product placement will become more prevalent in video games.

·         tagging – totally overhyped. The 2 problems with tagging – 1/ the majority of people do not CARE that much to contribute to the content categorization, 2/ inherently flawed as those that do the majority of the tagging live within a 50 mile square radius of san Francisco or new york. The world view of these active tagging participants hardly represents that of the majority of country, and thus this phenom will loose some steam in 2006.

·         now with over 7 BILLION pageviews per month and growing, will partner with google to introduce text ads on their pages and become one of google’s largest clients.

·         Cell phone carriers will finally begin to relinquish control in the US, allowing 3rd parties to – provision content and services on their networks, taking their pound of flesh. Companies like will proliferate, and carriers and these independents will drive far more revenue.

·         Video ipod – yeah, yeah. I guess its cool, just nothing earth shattering – so, I can now get a bunch of reruns or tv shows downloaded to my ipod. Prediction for 2006? People will use thir ipods for audio more than they will for video ;-)

·         Gaming – 1 breakout product will hit the mainstream, whereby video game technology will be used for something other than games – hopefully, education related.

·         Spore will be published by Electronic Arts, and kick off a hugely influential trend in gaming. Spore is an evolution game: the player molds and guides a single-celled species across many generations, until it becomes intelligent, at which point the player begins molding and guiding a society, civilization, and so on. The reason why spore is so important is that it uses the concept of procedural generation – giving players the ability to create content on the fly within the game rather than it having to be baked in before the game is shipped

·         2006 is the year that blogs begin to be used by mainstream corporate America to sell more products – podcasting is 1 year behind.



·         a national story will break when the catholic church hires a strategic marketing firm to teach them how to target tweens and 25-40 year olds.

·         I will extend my prediction from 2005 that Unitarian will “gain market share” in 2006 in the US. the product will be positioned as the “non-religious relegion” and will catch fire with 25-40 year olds.



·         The price of eggs will decrease.

·         Red bull will remain a high margin product.