Grading My 2018 Predictions
At the beginning of 2018, I took the advice of a colleague and made some predictions about 2018. I enjoyed the process of thinking about how I thought the world might change, and more importantly, it left me with some evidence about what I thought at the time and how accurate my predictions would turn out to be.
In short? Not that accurate. Indeed, if there’s one takeaway from my first try at annual predictions, it is that they were not nearly specific enough — I didn’t make them quantifiable or clear enough to objectively grade them. So, based on that alone, I’ll give myself a gentleman’s D. It’s a mistake I’ll aim to avoid next year.
Upon review, I realized that another error I made was making too many predictions at once as part of one broader prediction — in the future, I’ll try to keep each prediction separate to make them more straightforward.
Looking beyond these errors, my guesses were a mixed bag. I’ll unpack each one below, but of the 7 predictions, I grade 3 as correct or mostly correct, 2 as wrong or mostly wrong, and 2 as a mixed bag.
Prediction 1: The year the connected home became cool
Grade: Mixed bag
On the plus side, it looks like smart speakers are a rapidly growing product category. I bought a couple, and many friends I know how them. The smart home may have grown by more than 100% in 2018, and smart home sales are expected to surpass sales of smartphones in 5 years.
(check growth data point)
That said, I may have been too rosy in my prediction. While the segment is experiencing significant growth, it is arguably still in an early adopter phase. While my friends may have Google Homes, my parents, my siblings, and their friends do not yet have these devices and are not itching to acquire them.
While I may have been off a bit in my timing, I think the trend is certainly underway, so I expect to continue to see many new devices that can be controlled by voice enter the market in the coming years. This includes home hub devices of course, but also ovens, washing machines, televisions, and other home appliances.
Prediction 2: Peak connected countertop appliance
Grade: Mostly wrong
I’m wrong on this one — new connected countertop appliances have not cratered. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that they are not growing into a popular product category — a trip to Best Buy finds that you can locate new connected countertop devices like convection ovens and Bluetooth enabled baby formula mixing machines, but there are certainly not high-volume items.
Some may argue these countertop appliances are actually growing, with the success of the Instapot. However, as a recent recipient of an Instapot, I don’t actually think it will take up any more space on my countertop — I’ll just replace our slow cooker with a more functional device. So, while consumer spending on countertop appliances is likely to rise, I still believe that the fixed amount of countertop real estate in kitchens will limit the growth of incremental items
Prediction 3: The end of the beginning of cryptocurrencies
Grade: Mostly correct
Decline in the prices of major cryptocurrencies? Check! Major SEC action on ICOs? Check! More sanity in this space? Check! (I think)
It’s fair to ask whether I’m being too positive and if cryptocurrencies have busted altogether; while prices have precipitously declined, cryptocurrencies are not going anywhere. Also, while the SEC certainly had an impact on the market, many factors likely contributed to the decline in prices.
Prediction 4: A Market Correction Driven by Fear and Loathing
Grade: Mixed bag
The market did have a correction (+), but it didn’t end in positive territory (-). Also, while there is certainly rising uncertainty tied to the Mueller investigation as well as trade policy, I don’t think these were major contributors to the correction.
Prediction 5: A Lake Michigan-style Election Wave
This prediction was wrong. I expected Democrats to be less successful in the 2018 election than had been predicted; in fact, Democratic gains were even more than most expected at the start of the year, with major pickups in the U.S. House, limited losses in the U.S. Senate, and pickups at the state legislative level.
I do think former Ohio Governor John Kasich will run for President starting in 2019, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Prediction 6: Major M&A Activity in the Energy Sector
Of my 7 predictions, I considered predicting M&A activity in the energy sector to have the highest probability. Indeed, this is a continuation of a trend that was already underway.
Shell (New Motion — electric vehicle charging, Sonnen — battery storage) and Total (Autogrid — energy data analytics, Ionic Materials battery storage, and SAFT — battery storage) were among the most active (due to their strategic corporate venture arms), and European oil majors were in general more active than U.S. companies.
Prediction 7: A backlash to the #MeToo movement that influences our political future.
Grade: Mostly correct
As I wrote earlier this year, I believe the backlash to the #MeToo movement was manifested in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and what amounted to a rejection of the claims of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
On the other hand, it is possible that Kavanaugh hearing was nothing new (see the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing) and that the obvious sexism was just more visible than it normally is (but was not significantly impacted by the #MeToo movement).
So that’s a wrap — 2 wrong, 2 mixed, 3 correct. Next week, I’ll be sharing my predictions for 2019, with an eye to making them more objective, quantifiable, and simpler to evaluate. I’m hoping for more correct predictions, but I’ll settle for more clarity on whether I was correct or not.