Reflecting on 2006

2006 was another big year for the web. It saw the rise of YouTube, the dominance of MySpace, and more generally a focus on social networks and social networking on the web.

I didn’t make predictions about this year. Instead, I noted that there were several big opportunities for established online players and their start-up counterparts to go after (see Opportunities 2006). Unfortunately, most really missed out on the usefulness opportunity. Lots of new services launched…I’m still figuring out what they were trying to do.

Online video sharing did make sense though. Free hosting plus bandwidth plus making it easy to embed videos in a website equaled $1.65 billion in the case of YouTube. But it wasn’t just the technology that was important – it was the impact the technology made beyond the realm of geeks alone.

For example, NBC and TBS now make many of their popular shows available to watch in their entirety on their websites. CNN launched a premium service that offers something similar. And if all of them were honest, I’m sure this service was probably last on their list of things they wanted to do.

The other area where I saw some advancement was with integration. Although I noted Yahoo! as having a great opportunity in this space (because they bought a number of popular Web 2.0 properties in 2005), I don’t think they delivered. Instead, it was Google that jumped all over making integration of their services a key focus for 2006. There is still room for improvement but Google makes it easy for users to take advantage of their growing number of web services.

Overall, 2006 saw tremendous growth, at least in the shear number of online product and service launches. And that’s going to have some pretty significant impacts in 2007 – but those are some thoughts for another time.