Twelve Predictions For 2013

Business and macro trends to watch in the year ahead.

I'm staring into my crystal ball, and I see…nothing. And neither can all the other swamis wildly trying to issue predictions for 2013. My predictions are based only on my intuition, but for what it's worth, here they are:

Tech:
1. Small tablets will catch on, because you can now pretend you have an iPad or an iPad Mini even if you only have a Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire, which in many ways are more flexible, better—and cheaper. But the iPad Mini sets the trend, and all of us over 45 will once again struggle to read smaller screens without spectacles. For kids, no problem of course.

2. Wearable computing moves further into the mainstream. Some day, God willing, the Pebble watch will deliver. And people have begun getting their Basis devices. The new Fitbit, the new Jawbone, and the now-familiar Nike Fuelband continue to valiantly count steps and calories for people who either do or do not make lifestyle changes—and this is random. You can't predict who will or who won't.

3. Google Goggles are only a subtext to the trend above. Sure, Scoble's writing a book on contextualism, but that's not part of 2013 unless you are a developer or someone with $1500 burning a hole in her pocket.

4. Many startups merge, converge, or die. The term "Series A crunch" is a euphemism for the death of mediocre concepts, and many emerged over the last two years.

5. America (and especially Silicon Valley) cedes its place as the only place to build a company. It never was the only place to build a company, but before streaming video that wasn't widely known. Now that we can see into remote crevasses of developing countries, we are aware of how much innovation goes on there.

Healthcare:
6. You gotta break the eggs to make the omelet, and 2013 will be the rise of bundled payments that no one knows how to manage, outcomes that no one knows how to measure, and steadily rising costs as everyone tries to make a bundle off the old system before Obamacare really kicks in during 2014.

7. People begin to realize how broken our healthcare system is, and how often doctors can be wrong. Slowly they begin to adopt preventive techniques to make going to the doctor-who-takes-forever-to-get-an-appointment and then gives-you-the-wrong-diagnosis-anyway unnecessary.

8. A subset of #7 will be the continued rise of the Paleo and plant-strong (vegan) health regimes, which present huge new opportunities for the restaurant business. The regimes will appeal both to the very young, who believe their parents have polluted the planet and left it to them, and to the very old, who will try everything to keep from dying. Or going to the hospital.

Politics:
9. Nothing to predict here, move right along. We veered away from the fiscal cliff, only to kick the can down the road with a bunch of partial and ridiculous solutions that put the debt off into the future. Politicians will not miraculously change from the corruption of 2012 to a bunch of selfless public servants.

10. The U.S. will continue to treat all other countries like potential colonies, and the other powers like Russia and China will pretend they aren't doing the same thing. The battle is between the U.S., Russia, and China, although it will have names like "Syrian Independence" or "Arab Spring." Those are camouflage.

Personal:
11. I will continue to keep my memoir unfinished, as I travel around and live my life. I will be totally immersed in family, although my family will think I am absently playing with my iPhone.

12. My ship will come in. I've predicted this every year for the past 50. And here's what I've learned. Some years it does, and some years it does not. When it does, I find a way to spend or give away all the treasure. When it doesn't, I am only slightly less happy.

After all, I am healthy, I have tons of friends, and a life other people lust after. But all they have to do to have my life is decide they want it enough to sacrifice illusions of security. I hope they figure it out in 2013.

[Image: Flickr user Daniel Conway]

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