Sticking with the future predictions, I usually quote the great American baseball player Yogi Berra: “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. He had quite a few comments of that ilk: “the future isn’t what it used to be”, and it is certainly true.
It is particularly true when we look at the Digital Revolution as pointed out by Lord Blackwell, who Chairs Lloyds Banking Group, when he recently stated that the banking industry is going to see more change in the next 10 years than it has seen over the last 200.
It’s also easy to make predictions and get them wrong but, when predicting the future, you usually anticipate that people will have forgotten that you made these predictions by the time they should have come true.
That’s unfortunately not the case if you made them online or in print. A few cases in point include Reader’s Digest’s view of the World in 1999 back in 1966:
The prediction that “the internet will go supernova and, in 1996, catastrophically collapse”, from Robert Metcalfe, co-inventor of the Ethernet; and all of those naysayers that thought Apple was dead (only Steve Jobs RIP):
So, in the spirit of keeping up with predictions , here are a few predictions from The Long Bets Foundation back in 2004 (comments in brackets are my own):
1. A profitable video-on-demand service aimed at consumers will offer 10,000 titles to 5 million subscribers by 2010 (Netflix)
2. More than 50 per cent of books sold worldwide will be printed on demand at the point of sale in the form of quality paperbacks by 2010 (Nope … Kindle)
3. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times will refer to Russia as “the world leader in software development” by 2012 (Shame)
4. A wearable device will be available that will use voice recognition capability and high-volume storage to monitor and index conversations you have or conversations which occur in your vicinity for later searching as supplemental memory by 2020 (Here now)
5. The tickets to space travel – at least to the Moon, will be available over the counter by 2020 (NB: can people come down as well as go up)
6. There will only be three significant currencies used in the world. More than 95 per cent of the countries in the world will use one of them by 2063 (US Dollar, Bitcoin and Spacemiles)
Source: Longs Bets Foundation, www.longbets.org, July 2004 (Page 12)
Of the ones we can measure, that's a 1 in 3 success rate, so don't necessarily take these as read. In fact, as can be seen, some are spectacularly wrong and some are not far off right. It is the latter ones we try to sift through to create our views of strategy and insight, execution and implementation. If you get your predictions right, then you make a stack of cash. Get them wrong and it goes the other way.
In fact, that’s pretty much been Apple’s story, with the death of Steve Jobs seeing the world’s most valuable company lose considerable value until 2014, when the iPhone6 release saw Apple stock gain 40% in value last year.
So here are a few other longbets that are current today. See which ones you agree or disagree with: