Where will blogging head in the next year? Using my crystal ball here's my list for 2009.
1. The rise of the uberblogs
This prediction has its own post here. I'm convinced that at the top of the blogosphere this will be THE big trend this year, and we'll finally see new media challenging old media head on because of it.
2. Increased uptake in Commenting 2.0 services
2008 was really the first year commenting 2.0 services really took off, but they are still have minor market share across the blogosphere. In 2009 people will be looking for better ways of enabling the conversation, and commenting services like Disqus, Sezwho, JS-Kit and IntenseDebate will thrive.
3. Consolidation in Commenting 2.0 services/ acquisitions
The increased interest in commenting 2.0 though will see consolidation in the sector as one or two services win most of the new business. This could mean consolidation as one or more services close, but more likely we'll see IP buys in the field. Intense Debate has already been acquired by Automattic, so they're off the list. SixApart will acquire one of these services given any of them would be a perfect fit alongside SixApart products and other SixApart acquisitions. My bet: SixApart will acquire Disqus. Don't count out Technorati as a possible acquirer either for similar reasons.
4. Facebook to become major blog service player
We're only now just starting to see the first stage of Facebook Connect services, including the ability to use Facebook accounts to comment on blogs. My prediction is that Facebook integration into blogs will explode in 2009 as more services seek to tap in to Facebook, and as Facebook wants to extend its presence onto blogs. We've already seen a Facebook written WordPress plugin (not sure if this has been released yet, but it was leaked at one stage), expect more from Facebook. The key here is that Facebook, facing a slow down in 2009 will want to be everywhere to maximize its exposure and use.
5. The traditional blog layout will decline
We've already seen the rise of the magazine layout for blogs; in 2009 the availability of alternate layouts to a traditional blog layout will thrive, and the ability of users to implement these will get easier (WordPress is making a lot of these tasks easier now). We'll see a lot of variations on the theme, many not really being magazine in style, but we'll still be calling them that because magazine theme has become a generic term for anything not traditional. For a couple of examples of interesting variations, see Gawker and Huffington Post.
6. Technorati will be acquired
It wouldn't be a predictions list from me without an entry that suggests Technorati will be acquired. Every year I've predicted this I've been wrong, but I'm more confident in 2009. Having failed to complete a merger with b5media is 2008, my guess is Technorati's investors are looking for an out. Having entered the blog advertising field with Technorati Media (disclosure they provide our ads...well some of them) and the acquisition of Ad Engage (now Technorati Engage), Technorati is building revenue streams and becomes more appealing for an exit. My guess: they'll be acquired by an ad network or metrics company, more likely the first option though.7. SixApart overhauls MovableType, becomes a player again
SixApart has done some great things this year, and despite my history with the company (and probably even to this day me not being overly popular there) I can say at the close of 2008 that they're now one of my favorite companies in the space. The release of MovableType as open source opened the community door at SixApart, but the platform still lacks for user friendliness...particularly with templating.
My prediction is that seeing how successful WordPress continues to be, SixApart will release a new version of MovableType, or even a completely new, PHP based blogging platform that will take the good fight to WordPress. SixApart is already working hard in development, having recently released a lifestreaming platform, I'm betting even better is ahead.8. Widget providers will fall
There has been far too many blog widget providers in the market for far too long, and with 2009 going to be tough for funding, many will fall. No names, because I don't know the economics of each, but this space most consolidate.
9. Old Media will acquire a record number of blogs
Blogging as a business proposition becomes even more appealing in 2009 due to its low costs and high appeal. Old media is about to face its worst year on record, and those with cash to spare will acquire blogs in an attempt to broaden their business base online.
My guess in tech blogging is that we'll see at least two A-list blogs/ blog networks acquired. Silicon Alley Insider is top of my list: lean operation, high yield readership even with the economic crisis, and a nice fit in with a newspaper group or TV station. NBC or News Corp for the buy. Mashable and VentureBeat possibles; I like Mashable on the acquisition front because of the broader appeal and higher traffic.
Below the top we'll see lots of smaller acquisitions, strategic plays where blogs join the bigger entity in a complimentary fashion.
Also don't rule out advertisers and advertising firms buying in the space either; what better way to place advertising than to own the place you want to advertise.
10. The Inquisitr will become Australia's largest independent blog by traffic
Actually, it might already be close, hard to tell. News Ltd newspapers will threaten to sue us again, we'll continue to not link to them, and if I'm really lucky, Fairfax (Australia's second largest newspaper group) might take a stake, presuming they don't fold in the mean time. That will give us access to AFP/ AP and Reuters content, and allow us to grow to 10 million page views. About mid year we'll run topless photos of a celebrity and get blocked by the Australian Government's Great Firewall of Australia, resulting in a large VPN bill for me to run the site....or we'll relocate to New Zealand :-)