Seven unbelievable 2014 tech predictions
I'm not big on making year-ahead predictions -- common as the stories are at the turn of the year. But it's a slow news week, with the holiday and Consumer Electronics Show still ahead, so I thought: "Why not look into the crystal ball?"
If any of these come to be, something is seriously wrong with the space-time continuum.
1. Apple brings back Steve Jobs. Responding to criticism that the public doesn't regard new, innovative products as innovative, Apple resurrects Jobs as pitchman. The company rolls out the Jobs Hologram for future product announcements. There is fierce debate among top executives about what age to make Jobs. CEO Tim Cook fittingly chooses Jobs' look from iPhone's launch in 2007. Stanford University asks the hologram to give the commencement address, but the date conflicts with launch of iWatch TV.
2. Steve Ballmer stays on as Microsoft CEO. No one wants the job, stalling Big B's retirement plans and sending shares into free fall. Ballmer responds by embarking on a bold merger he says will make Microsoft mighty before Google.
3. Yahoo buys Microsoft. Marissa Mayer would accept Microsoft's CEO job under no other circumstance. Yahoo's chief executive organizes a consortium of investors for the cash offer, which Microsoft's board, but not Ballmer, rejects. Carl Icahn steps in, buying a large chunk of stock and leveraging his position to push through the deal. Mayer says about the merger: "Yahoo!"
4. Google Glass tops Wired's "Worst Products of 2014" list. Robert Scoble's prediction that "Google Glass is doomed" proves to be self-fulfilling. As an early adopter and respected loudmouth, Scoble breaks Glass with just four words. Google unleashes a marketing campaign promoting Glass benefits, but privacy groups opposing the device wage a counterstrike using little more than Scoble's "glasshole" shower photo.
5. Facebook fires CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The board desperately tries to restore faith in the social network following whistleblower Eric Snowden's most-startling revelation of all: Facebook is the core of NSA's super-secret surveillance project. Says one Fox News commentator: "So, that's why Facebook feels like it was designed by a government bureaucracy".
Snowden claims the NSA approached Zuckerberg in 2003, requesting he field test college students' willingness to disclose private information freely. As the program expanded, the agency took what it couldn't get freely. Google+ briefly benefits, as subscribers jettison Facebook, until a different whistleblower reveals the CIA sponsors the newer social network.
6. "Fook" is Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year, beating out top-contender "Glasshole". Someone is "fooked" when they use NSA-backed Facebook. The word plays off lesser-known usage as f**k applied to the social network and condensed from "facebooked" or "f-booked". "Zucked" bears similar meaning but is not considered for the award.
7. Dell dumps Windows. Citing poor sales, whether Windows 7 or 8.1, the world's third-largest PC manufacturer goes all-Chrome OS. Calling "Chromebook the future of computing", CEO Michael Dell startles rivals and Microsoft. An astute The Guardian journalist uncovers Google's minor investment in privately-held Dell, occurring concurrently with the operating system switch. But by the holidays, Chromebook sales soar, validating Dell's provocative commitment. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates privately tells a Gawker blogger (who immediately tells all): "I told Steve [Ballmer] this would happen".