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Who got it right or wrong?

3G in China and open source business apps are just some of the industry predictions that have been debunked.
Written by Aaron Tan, Contributor

While soothsayers were right about the rise of Net telephony and mobile malware in 2006, they had their fair share of failed predictions, too.

ZDNet Asia looks at somes of these projections, and finds out which analysts deserve the right to keep their day job--while others might want to consider a career change.

3G will come to China in 2006
Boy, were they: Wrong

Analyst house IDC stuck its neck out in 2005 to predict that the Chinese government would issue 3G licenses in 2006. Optimism was fueled by the continued growth of mobile data services and the relative maturity of China's homegrown 3G standard, the time division–synchronous code division multiple access (TD-SCDMA).

IDC also predicted that with the issuance of 3G licenses and network development in 2006, China's annual 3G handset shipments would surpass 1.5 million units that same year.

Of course, both predictions did not come true. While the Chinese government had indicated that it would eventually allocate 3G licenses by the 2008 Olympics Games, many industry observers were still clueless on when Beijing would fulfill its promise.

It's widely reported that the Chinese government has often delayed the issuance of 3G licenses, because it wants to ensure that TD-SCDMA is mature enough to compete head-on with W-CDMA, a Western 3G standard used in most parts of Europe and Asia.

The government had previously said that TD-SCDMA trial networks would be up and running in six Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Tianjin and Qingdao, by the end of 2006. However, Chinese cellphone users that ZDNet Asia spoke to have indicated that trials have not commenced at this point.

Net calling heating up
Boy, were they: Right

Industry experts hit the nail on the head with this one. VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) was hot.

In 2006, IDC noted the VoIP market would be spurred by non-traditional operators moving into this space. Last year, eBay purchased Skype, while Yahoo and Microsoft purchased VoIP service providers, and Google launched its own VoIP software called Google Talk.

Traditional telecoms players like SingTel moved into the consumer VoIP space, with commercial VoIP over Wi-Fi services available at the end of 2006.

IDC also predicted VoIP adoption in the enterprise space to grow, as service operators looked into replicating the consumer experience from the home to the office and introduced low-cost, integrated voice, data and video conferencing solutions for businesses.

Indeed, the strong technology interest was fueled by small and midsize businesses. AMI-Partners projected that SMBs would spend almost US$600 million on Net telephony in 2006, an increase of more than 40 percent over the previous year. According to AMI-Partners, the market is expected to grow more than 45 percent in the next five years.

Open source business apps will take root
Boy, were they: Wrong

In one of Gartner's industry predictions in 2005, the analyst company acknowledged the rising maturity of open source software (OSS). In fact, spending on open-source CRM (customer relationship management) was forecast to increase threefold, creating a viable alternative for many organizations.

While open source has proven itself in the realm of infrastructure software with products such as JBoss, adoption of many open-source business applications remain in the embryonic stage. Although there are no concrete industry numbers available, the take-up of open-source business applications remains lackluster, according to an IDC analyst, who attributed the situation to the limited knowledge of open-source business software among enterprises.

They said: This is the year of mobile malware
Boy, were they: Right

Security software maker McAfee
declared 2006 to be the year of mobile malware, and they were right.

The company predicted that the number of malicious software programs created for mobile devices would reach 726 by the end of 2006, up from about 226 at the end of 2005.

Although full-year figures for mobile malware are not available yet, a posting on McAfee's corporate blog indicated that at the end of June 2006, there were almost 300 malware programs that targeted mobile telephony. This figure exceeded the previous year's record.

According to McAfee, malware targeting telephony will steadily grow to become more than just a nuisance, especially when the cellphone becomes the standard means to transfer money. And, much like how network bots and other means to steal money over the Internet have consumed the industry's energies these past two years, so will malware that target telephony.

Virtualization will go on a roll
Boy were they: Right

IDC's 2006 predictions for infrastructure software rightly pointed to virtualization's strong growth path. The analyst company noted that virtualization technologies have spread on Intel platforms at an almost explosive rate, spearheaded by software offerings from VMware, Microsoft and Xen.

According to IDC, the global virtual machine software market as of October 2006 was about US$810 million, up 46 percent from US$560 million in 2005.

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