Below are five headlines that will only appear in alternate timelines, April Fool’s jokes, or on The Onion‘s homepage in 2006.

Google releases operating system

Google has made it pretty clear it intends to win the operating system

war by refusing to fight it. Instead, they’re focusing on the browser,

building a suite of applications (Gmail, Google Desktop, GoogleTalk)

that can run on any OS, so long as that OS supports a W3C-compliant Web

browser. They want to sidestep the whole OS issue, so rumors that

Google is going to buy a Linux distro and fight Microsoft on its own

turf are simply wishful thinking on the part of the Penguin set. It

ain’t gonna happen.

RIAA backs off antipiracy crusade

People keep asking why the RIAA “doesn’t get it” when it comes to

digital media and intellectual property. Well, it’s actually the people

asking those questions that don’t get it. The major record labels are

part of publicly traded major media conglomerates, and they are

answerable to shareholders. Those investors want to know that their

investments–much of which are represented by the IP value of the

record catalogues–are protected. So long as these investors feel

threatened by piracy (Read: So long as the news media continues to use

piracy to make cheap and easy headlines), the RIAA and its members are

going to keep up their headline-grabbing antipiracy fight.

MSN Search steals marketshare from Google

Even if Microsoft builds a better mousetrap–which remains to be

seen–Google’s marketshare and brand recognition are simply

unassailable at this point. Google is a verb,

period. Whether Google can leverage its search supremacy into dominance

of other markets–e-mail, IM, VoIP–is still worthy of debate, but

unless Microsoft builds a Google-blocker into Windows Vista

(hello, antitrust), Google will remain the undisputed search king for

at least another year, if not another decade. Any marketshare gains MSN

search makes this year will be negligible at best.

RSS used by majority of Web surfers

I’m as big a fan of RSS as anyone, but this is a technology for early

adopters and hardcore Web surfers only, and it’s better suited for the

back end. The average consumer doesn’t want to learn a new way of

surfing, doesn’t want to learn how to use a new plug-in for (or

separate app from) the browser. Indirectly, someone is going to use RSS

to build a better portal, a better mobile experience, a better Web app,

or even a better search index. This will benefit the majority of Web

consumers in ways we haven’t yet though of, but RSS itself will not be

front and center of these phenomena.

Blogs, wikis go mainstream

Again, I’m a huge fan of both technologies, but again, the average

consumer could give a flying fig about either one. Ask the typical

shmoe what browser he uses to surf the Internet, and he’ll answer

“Windows.” The IE-versus-Firefox issue doesn’t even register, and

that’s an actual end-user-impacting product choice. Most civilians

don’t distinguish between conventional Web sites, wiki sites, blogs,

and portals. A site is a site is a site. Moreover, blogs and wikis

aren’t really revolutionary, they’re simply improved publishing

platforms that let writers and readers publish and participate more

efficiently and intuitively. That’s always been the promise of the Web.

The real legacy of blogs and wikis will not be that they grab headlines

and usher in a massive punctuated-equilibrium evolution of the Web, but

that they slowly and subtly erased the line between creator and

consumer, and over the next 3-5 years brought about a true participant


Think I’m an idiot? Post a comment and rationally support your argument (If you can. If you dare.)

Want see what other TR staffers and bloggers believe won’t happen in 2006? Check out the notin2006 tag.

Got you own ideas about some antiheadlines? Blog them yourself and tag the entry notin2006.