10 Web Predictions for 2014: The Results!

Craig Buckler

At the beginning of 2013 I published 10 Web Predictions for 2013. I played it safe and scored a Nostradamus-like seven out of ten. My 10 Web Predictions for 2014 were a little more adventurous — let’s see how they fared…

1. 2014 is the year of the smart phone

You may have had an iPhone since 2007, but few others did outside the tech community. Smart phones only overtook feature phone sales in mid-2013 and they’ve had a considerable impact in emerging markets where the PC revolution never occurred.

It’s long been predicted that mobile web use would eventually overtake desktops. I was initially skeptical and it’s taken longer than expected, but mobile web access increased from 20% in November 2013 to 34% in November 2014. It surpassed my expectations.

Cumulative score: 1 out of 1. A strong start!

2. HTML5 web apps will go mainstream

I predicted that many native mobile app developers would switch to HTML5:

  1. A single web app is cheaper to develop than a multitude of apps for Apple, Android, Windows, Firefox OS and Blackberry devices.
  2. Responsive Web Design techniques allow you to target multiple screen sizes in a single application.
  3. Native functionality such as offline support, camera, microphone, sound, accelerometer, vibration, geo-location etc. would permit feature parity.
  4. There are no bizarre policy restrictions or exorbitant charges imposed by app stores.
  5. A W3C packaged web app standard is available. Although I admitted cross-browser implementation and an official HTML5 App Store may take longer.

While developers are considering the web, it’s clear that native apps are as popular as ever. Techniques such as offline-first are beginning to gain momentum, but 2014 was probably too early for mass migration.

Bah. 1 out of 2.

3. Client-side Flash, Silverlight and Java will die

Plug-in technologies have declined rapidly. You can still find adverts, videos, and games developed using Flash, Silverlight, and Java, but they’re mostly legacy applications. Those developers who remain on the platforms must be looking for an exit strategy.

I’m going to award myself another point. The plug-ins may not be fully dead, but they’re wandering around in a zombie-like brain-eating state.

2 out of 3!

4. IE12 will be released

Oh, Microsoft — why did you let me down?! I thought this was an easy point especially given the recent scheduling improvements. A peek of IE12 is available in the Windows 10 betas and RemoteIE, but it’s not named IE12 and isn’t available to end users.

2 out of 4 — this isn’t going well…

5. The browser market will be dominated by IE and Chrome

My predictions:

  • The browser market would become a two-horse race between IE and Chrome. Neither would move significantly.
  • Firefox would drop a little but remain above 15%.
  • Safari would hold at 10% mostly owing to the success of the iPad.

Hmm. Chrome gained more than 6% this year while IE dropped almost 8%. They’re still the market leaders but I expected it to be closer. My Firefox and Safari observations were spot-on.

Half a point seems fair: 2.5 out of 5.

6. Opera usage will fall

Opera’s switch to Blink was a sound business decision, but version 15+ removed many of the features Opera’s passionate fan base loved. The new browser offered little over Chrome, and the demise of feature phone sales provided a bleak outlook.

I’m relieved to say it didn’t happen. Despite complaints, Opera usage grew a little. So what do I know?

2.5 out of 6. It’s not looking good.

7. Microsoft will abandon or re-brand Windows RT

This was a tenuous link to the web but I thought it was important. Windows RT confuses people — mainly because it isn’t Windows and can’t run Windows software.

If anything, Microsoft is going further than I predicted. Windows 10 is a single code base for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. No one mentions RT any longer and few devices offer the OS.

Is that worth a point? I think so: 3.5 out of 7.

8. A responsive image standard won’t be available!

I was hoping to be proved wrong but I doubted a usable responsive image technology would become available in 2014. However, it’s fared better than I expected and vendors agreed to implement both the picture and srcset standards. That said, few browsers have full support, but 2015 looks more promising.

I’ll award myself half a point. 4 out of 8.

9. Page weight will steady or drop

Page weight has been increasing more than 30% every year. I hoped we’d reached the summit of stupidity:

  1. There are only so many frivolous fonts, widgets, libraries, and images you can add to a page.
  2. HTML5 and better browsers should result in slimmer pages. CSS3 and consistent APIs lessen the need for JavaScript libraries. CSS effects, webfont icons, and SVGs offer an alternative to images.
  3. Advertisers are switching from Flash to lighter-weight HTML alternatives.
  4. Build processes can remove redundant code then concatenate and minify files.
  5. Obese pages have a negative impact on SEO.
  6. The expanding mobile sector has stricter processing and bandwidth limits.

The situation has improved. Page weight only increased by 15% during 2014 — but it remains excessive.

Perhaps it’s better, but I’m still disappointed and don’t deserve a point: 4 out of 9.

10. A renewed interest in machine-readable data feeds

In essence, I predicted websites would become less important as information was collated and repackaged for easier consumption. Systems such as Google Glass, Google Now, and the rise of small-screen computing devices made this increasingly likely.

It’s difficult to quantify but there has certainly been a rise in applications providing REST APIs and microdata. Perhaps 2014 was too early, but data sharing is more prevalent than ever. Half a point seems reasonable.

That gives me a grand total of 4.5 out of 10. That’s 35% less accurate than last year but I have a cunning plan! 10 Web Predictions for 2015 is coming soon…