2019 was a wild and crazy year for the computer industry… and 2020 looks to be wilder, crazier, and generally more bonkers than many of the years that have come before.

What will come to pass, in the computer industry, during 2020?

These are my predictions.

Note: My accuracy rate in predictions seems to be running about 75% over the last several years. I think that number will be even higher this year.

Note #2: I've also published my 2020 predictions for what will transpire within the Linux and Open Source industry.

Prediction #1: There will be more major data breaches in 2020 than in 2019.

In 2019, there were an estimated 5,000+ large scale data breaches – resulting in close to 8 billion records exposed.

To put that in perspective: That's more than the population of… the entire world. Or roughly 2 to 3 unique, exposed records for every single person that uses the Internet.

In 2020, those numbers will rise. Dramatically. I'd estimate that we can expect a minimum of 10 billion records leaked, hacked, or otherwise exposed over the next year. A trend that I predict will continue for the foreseeable future.

The reasons for this nightmarish trend are simple and obvious:

  • The more complex a system becomes, the harder it becomes to secure. This holds true for houses (imagine securing a house with 400 windows and 300 doors – compared to a house with only one door and zero windows) as well as software systems. And, over the last several years, the complexity of the On-Line systems so many use every day has increased several fold.

  • The more people use a system, the more likely it is to become a target of mischief. That data is valuable, making those larger systems highly tempting targets for nefarious types.

  • The number of large user-base, highly complex, Internet accessible systems is continuing to increase. Internet of Things. Stores and restaurants. Heck, even public transportation systems now often have On-Line systems storing private information about users.

Combine those three facts together, and the results are all but inevitable.

This is a conscious choice we have all made together – that our personal data is less important than earning points through an On-Line, smartphone app for a coffee shop.

There's no way to fix this. Short of us, as individuals, ceasing to use On-Line systems. Which doesn't seem likely… at least not in 2020.

Prediction #2: Twitter and Facebook will take a hit – user losses, layoffs, major court losses.

We all know that Social Media makes people sad (even the big Social Media companies know it – in fact they count on it as part of their business model). The public is becoming increasingly disenchanted with the concept. And with the massive quantity of personal data they hold on everyone, I expect a few things to happen during 2020:

  • Multiple, massive data breaches from multiple Social Media networks. This seems almost inevitable.

  • Major legal action against either Facebook or Twitter (possibly both) focused on how they handle personal data of users (sold data, and data security), as well as discrimination and safety concerns.

  • Government action taken to crack down on these Social Networks. What form this takes remains to be seen, but expect politicians to take action.

  • One of the major Social Media companies will see losses in late 2020 and face significant layoffs.

  • A measurable and noteworthy percentage of Social Media users will abandon this type of service entirely.

Prediction #3: Amazon and / or Google will face breaking up into smaller companies by the Federal Government.

It's hard to throw a stone without hitting a politician who hasn't been highly critical of Google or Amazon.

Tax concerns. Working conditions. Anti-competitive practices. Involvement with political issues and candidates. Discrimination (on multiple fronts). The number of criticisms voiced against these companies is large, well documented, and (in general) agreed with by the public at large.

Will the Federal Government force these companies to be broken up (as was done with Ma Bell)? Hard to say. But it will be talked about by elected Federal leaders. Hearings will take place. Bills will be proposed.

Prediction #4: Self driving cars will result in at least one death.

Thus far, the number of fatalities related to self driving car technology has been relatively… small. Insofar as any fatality can be considered “small.”

In 2020, as more car companies push the self driving features (of various levels) of their automobiles… we will face at least one high profile example of a self driving feature being specifically responsible for a death.

This will result in significant debates and potential laws being proposed to increase regulation around the concept of a self driving car.

Prediction #5: A major fracture will occur within the web / online standards communities.

You ever walk out the front door, sniff the air, and know – with absolute certainty – that snow is coming in the next day? Even without looking at the weather forecast… you just know. You can feel it.

Well… this prediction is based more on a gut feeling – on the smell on the breeze – than anything else. I have no supporting data. I just smell it.

During 2020, there will be a major fight – nay… a full on fracture – relating to Web and On-Line standards. Think things like HTML, CSS, EME, TCP, Javascript, etc.. There are multiple standards bodies that focus on such things (and even more companies and organizations pushing their own particular agendas).

By the end of 2020, I expect some of those standards bodies to break into multiple, disagreeing factions. Some may dissolve completely (or change in a way that renders them unrecognizable).

Prediction #6: Multiple YouTube competitors will emerge as viable.

During 2020 a few things will happen relating to YouTube:

  • YouTube will ban more channels relating to politics and cryptocurrency. Some completely banned from the platform, some “shadowbanned.” YouTube will remain, as usual, quiet about it.

  • Many of these video producers will move to alternative video sharing platforms. Bringing their fan-base with them.

  • At least two “YouTube alternatives” will emerge, over the year, as viable. Meaning they will have a large enough base of users to enable video producers and other content creators to focus on them as a primary platform with the potential to earn a full time living with just that audience.

Prediction #7: Major computer companies will take increasingly political stances.

In 2019 we saw companies like Microsoft take noteworthy stances on political topics unrelated to their core business. Over the year ahead I expect more companies to take increasingly public stances on political topics that have little (to nothing) to do with what the company actually does.

People who agree with the political stances will celebrate the companies making the statements.

People who disagree with those political stances… well, they'll be mad. Boycotts will be threatened.

Employees and existing customers of those companies will leave (at least enough to be noteworthy). There will be at least one high profile round of legal action where an employee files suit against a company for discrimination based on political affiliation.

Prediction #8: An anti-Smartphone movement will begin to gain traction.

There are a lot of reasons to use a Smartphone (iPhone, Android, whatever). There's also a lot of reasons to not use a Smartphone.

Over the last several years the pros (at least in the minds of most) of using a Smartphone outweighed the cons. Sure, some people stayed clear of those always-connected little gadgets, but the sales have been astoundingly large – and usage extremely commonplace.

In 2020, I predict we will start to see an anti-Smartphone movement begin to take real shape… and gain at least some traction among the public and mainstream media.

Not “using more secure Smartphones” … completely boycotting the usage of any such always Internet connected type phone.

I don't expect this number to be large. In fact, I highly doubt that there will be any noticeable impact on overall sales or usage statistics of Smartphones at any point during 2020. But the visibility of people taking a stand against using such devices will increase dramatically and the anti-Smartphone narrative will take shape.

That's it. Those are my Computer Industry predictions for 2020. Based on my past track record, 6 of the 8 will come true.

But, honestly, I don't see a single one that doesn't look pretty gosh-darned likely.

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