Archive for January, 2012

Locle Predictions for 2012

No, the ground beneath your feet will not open up and eat you.  But welcome to the age of Aquarius, man.

It’s that time of year again.  Time to compare last years predictions to what is now history; and look into the future for next years history…

  • Well, Foursquare tripled its registered (as opposed to monthly active) users fro 5 million to 15 million.  If we give the same valuation that AOL gave to Bebo users and NewsCorp gave to MySpace users (US$24), that values FourSquare at US$360 million.  But it also assumes that each registered user represents US$8 per year in revenues.  The jury is out on that and it remains to be seen what the commercial value of checkin users really is.   Our bet?: US$100 million. In total.  Should have taken the Yahoo! money, guys.
  • Simultaneously, the *other* checkin contender, Gowalla, stumbled, pivoted and ultimately floundered to be “acquihired” into Facebook’s Timeline (trademark?) team.  Supposedly the investors got 100% of nothing for that.  When the FB IPO goes to market, that will smart.
  • Speaking of Facebook, their own geo-social checkin offering flirted with a commercial model in the guise of Groupon-like “deals”, but they pulled the plug pretty quickly on that, suggesting strongly that location is a feature and city deals is not a viable long-term business.
  • This didn’t sway Groupon from IPOing (aka pumping and dumping) onto NASDAQ at a US$20 price.  No shock that after an initial flutter of bullishness, the stock beared down to US$15.  But a bit of a late year surprise as it gained back to the offering price.  Rumour on The Street is that the banks underwriting the pending FB offering are supporting heavily to keep the sector “hot”.

But what of our other prediction?  The rise of the Social TV app?  Well 2011 was definately the year of Social TV with a bevy of startups dreaming the dream: Miso, Philo, Hot Potato, Tellybug, Numote, SideReel, Tunerfish, ScreenTribe, and, most notably, IntoNow, who were acquired by Yahoo! to complement their Connected TV offerings, for a quick US$20 million.

IntoNow set the tone for what second screen, social TV, companion apps should be about with “magical” automated content recognition (ACR).  The result being that…PREDICTION… 2012 will all be about ACR: digital fingerprinting, watermarking and content synchronisation.

But the established players are gunning down hard to protect their gatekeeper positions.  Expect a flurry of acquisitions from broadcasters and networks, purely as a defensive tactic more than an over-arching multi-screen, social television strategy.

ACR will also cause a significant disruption in the position of consumer electronics (TV, set top box, media center) manufacturers, who have been dropping the bag by purposefully crippling their “Smart” TV platforms to cow-tow to television content owners fears.

Watch this space as Google TV, Apple TV and the other Boxee-Roku’s get irrelevanced by second screen (tablet and smart phone) applications.

Roll on 2012.