Having delivered a reasonable score for 2009, let me glaze into my crystal ball for another 10 blogging predictions for the year ahead, 2010, my 9th year blogging and covering the industry.
1. Blogs/ uberblogs will make up at least five of the top 40 news sites online by December 2010
Already two uberblogs are in the Top 40, The Huffington Post and Examiner.com. By December that number will be five. Of the three new sites, the Gawker Media network will be on the list (in fact, they should be now, so they’ll need a reclassification for statistical purposes) and then probably some of the uberblog, mass content producers. Maybe Associated Content (again, classification comes into play there), maybe a Demand Media offshot (I’m still betting they’ll get into general news) and maybe some newer players. Either way, the void left as the big media sites decline has to be filled.
2. b5media will be sold
You don’t bring in a new CEO who has previously specialized in prepping companies for sale, then start shopping your non-performing assets unless you’re planning on a sale. The 4 year anniversary on the first round is coming up, at VC’s usually look for a 3-5 year exit.
3. Facebook.com becomes a blogging destination
Remember when running a blog on MySpace was popular for a while? You can expose your Facebook entries to the world, meaning that Facebook may quickly become the blogging platform of choice. Facebook may also offer more blog like options for profile pages, so users have a reasonably well featured blogging platform. Like MySpace though, it will be a fad that eventually passes.
4. SixApart or Automattic is acquired
With the old media keen to cash in on new media, SixApart and Automattic will be appealing targets. SixApart with its focus on paid services would be the more appealing acquisition, but Automattic also has the growth and user numbers. With Twitter and Facebook coming to dominate new media, the old school players run the risk of going backwards without the support of a larger entity.
5. A record number of blogs will be sued
With old media going mental about fair use in 2009 (despite most of them ripping content on a far broader scale), the lawyers will be the big winners in 2010 as old media tries desperately to destroy the competition any way they can in their dying days.
6. Blogging will get its own version of the “slow food” movement
There will always be a place for blogs that mass produce content, but already we’re seeing some people complain about quality vs quantity.
It’s difficult for a blog that doesn’t deliver a lot of content to compete, but in 2010 some of the new “big” sites will focus on substance and quality while not necessarily delivering a large amount of content. We’ve already seen it to some degree on sites like SmashingMagazine (although they are big on lists.) Expect more this year.
7. Consolidation/ Acquisition in Commenting 2.0
So I made this prediction last year, and it didn’t happen, but I still believe it will. The reason is simple: there simply isn’t enough money to be made in the commenting space. JS-Kit (Echo) is doing some commercial work now, but given the cost of doing it yourself is still close to zero (or zero,) the margins will never be that huge.
IntenseDebate will remain because it’s part of Automattic and provides commenting on their network, but JS-Kit and Disqus are another matter. Both have strengths and weaknesses, but how good would the best bits of each be in the one product. On that basis, I’m going to go all out and suggest that JS-Kit and Disqus will be the one company by the end of 2010, simply because it makes sense economically to be the one dominant player in the space vs competing with each other.
How: not sure. Could be a merger, could be an acquisition, although merger makes more sense as I’m not sure either could raise enough funding to acquire the other.
8. AOL starts ditching dedicated bloggers, adopts the Demand Media machine model
Actually, I’m not sure how much this is a prediction as opposed to something they’ve already announced. Even with the cost savings of outsourcing your bloggers under the original Weblogs Inc. model, dedicated contract content writers still cost a lot more than an army of writers/ content creators who will work for peanuts (the Demand/ AC/ Examiner.com model.) The newly floated content focused AOL will be under the pump to perform, and cutting writing costs as they grow their sites is the logical way they’ll do it.
9. Jason Calacanis will start a new blog network/ uberblog
Calacanis will bitch and moan about what AOL is doing for months (see AOL above) before finally re-entering the blogging space on the grounds that he’s come in to save quality blogging.
He’ll either do it as part of Mahalo, as a new company, or with old collaborator Brian Alvey. Alvey brings to the table his own blogging platform “Crowd Fusion,” a successor of sorts to BlogSmith (the original Weblogs Inc blogging platform.) I’m guessing Alvey would be keen as well; although one of the smartest people in the space, his Obsessable blog hasn’t done very well, ranking at 58,000 on Alexa.
I’d guess that rather than a traditional Weblogs Inc many blogs model, Calacanis will want to do a Huffpost type uberblog, because it’s a model he hasn’t done yet (and credit where due: he loves a challenge.)
10. The Inquisitr will still be here, although we may have branched out
Ah, the fun prediction. We’ll either start some foreign versions this year, or we’ll start a few small side blogs for fun. Money always permitting, but if there was one lesson I learned this year, it’s you need to make sure you spread you risks some what because some months are great, others aren’t.