Predictions that went right and wrong

Open source support still worries Asian users, low-cost laptops took off against the odds, and India is still on top for outsourcing.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor on

The past year saw its fair share of hype bubbles and news that dominated the headlines.

Industry watchers made their speculations on the trends affecting the market. Some predictions were proven right, while others took a turn in the other direction.

ZDNet Asia takes a look at some of the speculations, and determines which analysts got lucky--and which got it all wrong.

1. Windows Vista will experience slow take up
The analysts were: Right

When Microsoft issued an optimistic forecast for its yet-to-be-released OS back in October 2006, analysts were far less enthused about the adoption rates.

IDC's Al Gillen said Microsoft's target for 20 percent deployment on business desktops by end of 2007 was "almost impossible", because adoption of the platform would involve a large overhaul of the company systems and is also determined by corporate deployment cycles.

IDC's prediction for end-2007 indicated that 11 percent of business PCs running Windows to be on Vista. Another analyst company, Gartner, pegged its figures at 10 percent. Gartner research vice president, Michael A. Silver, added that enterprise adoption would be slowed down by corporations testing the OS, and waiting for software support.

As of November 2007, Vista adoption stood at less than 10 percent, according to David Marcus, security research manager at McAfee Avert Labs.

Vista's shortcomings have been alluded to Microsoft's exclusion of features such as WinFS, as well as the platform's flashy user interface not being "a killer reason [enough] to upgrade".

2. Fears of India's outsourcing business slowing
Industry experts were: Wrong

Warning from Indian outsourcers of rising salary costs, subsequently saw dipping share prices for several of them, such as Satyam and Wipro.

In 2006, some companies also reportedly decided to look beyond India, in light of the rising wages and skill shortages in the country.

Ovum analysts had agreed that growth was slowing and margins reducing for the country's outsourcers.

However, India still tops the ranks when it comes to its outsourcing industry, which was estimated in October 2007 to have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 29.5 percent.

Further signs that 2008 is headed for an outsourcing boom as a result of rising costs elsewhere, signals India ought to enjoy this wave.

3. Open source support issues continue to worry Asia
The experts were: Right

Predictions were mixed about the rate of open source adoption several years ago. Some said it would be far away from mainstream adoption, while others predicted a rise in enterprise spending on open source software.

Among the barriers to adopting the technology, complexity and support issues proved more prevalent and remained top concerns among businesses.

Several U.K. CIOs said last year that "hidden cost" and complexity were still key barriers to adoption.

Senior executives from Sun Microsystems noted in October 2007 that worries about support remains the number one barrier to open source adoption in the Asia-Pacific region.

In July last year, an IDC study reported that 25 to 70 percent of businesses in Australia, China, India and Korea had their software assets based on open source.

4. Low-cost laptops won't take off
Analysts were: Somewhat wrong

Low-cost, inexpensive laptops such as the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) and Intel's Classmate PC, were said to present "no threat" to regular PCs, because analysts expected their stripped-down features to hamper the value and attractiveness of the devices.

However, the niche market segment has attracted new entrants. Taiwan's Asus launched its eeePC late last year, a low-cost competitor running on Linux. The company shipped 350,000 sets in the last quarter, exceeding industry projections by some 50,000 units.

In November 2007, the eeePC was also sold out on online e-commerce sites, Amazon and Best Buy.

5. Windows Vista will be secure
Analysts were: Wrong

When Windows Vista was launched, Microsoft platforms group vice president, Jim Allchin, described a platform where its "safety and security" will be the "overriding features" for which most people will want Windows Vista.

Analysts from Gartner and the Enderle Group further touted Vista's security features, highlighting in particular its spyware-fighting prowess.

However, amid the positive campaigning, other industry experts quickly unveiled holes in the platform's security.

In August 2006, a researcher from Singapore-based Coseinc, demonstrated how it was possible to hack the platform.

Security company, Sophos, also showed that the OS was vulnerable to "at least three pieces of widespread malware, two of which date back to 2004".

Microsoft first admitted in late-2006 to a security flaw in Vista and in April last year, broke its monthly patch cycle to issue a "critical patch" to Vista users.

Nand Mulchandani, Determina vice president, had said, of the patch: "As far as software vulnerabilities go, Vista's cover is blown. [It] is going to be very similar to the other operating systems Microsoft has delivered in terms of bugs."


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