Talking tech since 2003

As we near the end of 2010, we cannot ignore the fact that businesses of all ventures – even those once seen as invincible –  have been struggling to stay alive.  As Jeff wrote the other day, companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL desperately need to step up their game in 2011 in order to have any chance in the future. While these companies simply need to focus on keeping up with current trends and practices, other more successful entities are now in a position to lead the way for future innovations and to set the trends for the years to come.

For these businesses, the current way of doing things is keeping them alive, and their success in the past has put them in positions to be able to take upon new ventures; even if there is risk involved.  More importantly, these businesses probably can’t afford not to expand into new ventures, because if they don’t, someone else will.

Facebook is by no doubt one of the most successful online destinations, and will likely continue to be so for years to come.  The social networking website has grown dramatically over the last few years, and in doing so has managed to steal the spotlight from MySpace; a website that I personally question the future of.  By making MySpace less of a viable competitor, Facebook has created a certain amount of “growing room” in which they can use to expand their boundaries without needing to worry (as much) about loosing their stronghold over the social media market.  I can easily see Facebook taking advantage of social engineering – the key component in social networking – in order to enter a more profitable arena; marketing and advertising.  You see, by understanding how the social engine and social mind work, Facebook has the ability to understand human culture at a level far superior to most other organizations.  By harnessing this understanding of society, Facebook can develop solutions to problems that other didn’t even see existed, and can ultimately help to create a more functional and efficient society.  When it comes down to it, Facebook has the most valuable tool in any industry; an understanding of their users. With this knowledge, Facebook can truly go anywhere they want to.  Combine this with the open and productive workplace atmosphere, and Facebook has everything they need to innovate.

Another important company that needs to be evaluated is Google.  While Google has been starting new ventures over the last year or so, the prestigious Internet giant has yet to really take anything off the ground.  Google Fiber, for example, is still not at the point where anyone thought it would be by now, and while it seems to be making some progress, that progress is coming at an incredibly low rate of speed.  The same can be said for Chrome OS, which is just now starting to make visible progress (in more ways than one).  To many, it seems that Google is shuffling their feet and delaying making their developments mainstream.  And while this may very well be true, I feel that Google is doing so because they want to ensure that their new ventures are stable and successful.  Having said this, one needs to look back on Google Wave, which despite being fully fit for mainstream use, was proclaimed by Google to be a revolution in communications – only to have it fail a matter of months later.  Simply put, I think that Google simply doesn’t want another Wave on their hands. However, while Wave was deemed to be a failure, it’s still safe to say that Google learned from their mistakes and can at very least adapt the developments they put in Wave in order to create something new; potentially a social network of their own.  For Google, I really don’t think it’s a matter of having the resources to take gambles, but rather the willingness to risk their current success for ventures that cannot promise the same returns they’ve seen thus far.  At the same time, I honestly cannot see Google letting promising opportunities pass them by.

Last but not least, I feel that Amazon is in the position to go new routes and to make new ventures.  Despite maintaining a low profile in the press, Amazon is one of the largest – and arguably the largest – online retailer.  With consumers leaning more and more towards online shopping, it’s safe to say that Amazon is doing really well for themselves.  I think that Amazon can easily take their existing successes and build upon them in order to not only increase their direct sales, but rather to branch out into other areas of the web as well.

What do you think?  What companies do you have high hopes for in the coming year?  Let us know in the comments!

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