What it is: So-called experts and analysts fail to use logic and intelligence consistently to make outrageous claims that conveniently get forgotten when they’re proven drastically wrong.
Everyone has an opinion. The big difference between analysts and everyone else is that analysts get paid to study a situation and make an intelligent guess on what the future may bring. While this seems rational, analysts are rarely rational and often fail dramatically using anything but logic to make their decisions. Even worse, once they make their horrendous decisions, they go on making more decisions that gets lost in the avalanche of new information everyday.
Back in IDC predicted that Windows Phone would become the second most popular mobile operating system by 2015 and iOS would fall to third place. So here we are in 2015 and Windows Phone’s market share is nearly non-existent, Android’s market share is dipping slightly, and iOS continues growing steadily as many former Android users switch to the iPhone. So what happened to IDC’s grand prediction?
IDC likely fell into the idea that the future will exactly duplicate the past. That meant looking to see that Windows dominated the PC market so therefore Windows Phone would come to challenge the smartphone market as well. That’s like saying because the New York Yankees won the World Series in 1998, 1999, and 2000 that they should have kept winning the World Series for every year after. If you use the past as a prediction of the future, you’ll always be wrong.
The past should only help you analyze the future, not predict it. If you analyze why Windows dominated the PC market, it was because MS-DOS initially came with the IBM PC while rival operating systems like CP/M-86 cost extra. Then as Microsoft morphed MS-DOS into Windows, there was no real competitor. Windows thrived through the lack of competition. Windows Phone got decimated because it had to face both Android and iOS. As soon as Windows Phone faced competition, it withered because it just wasn’t any different than either Android or iOS.
One key for the success of Windows was its lack of competition and its strong developer support. Developers wrote Windows programs because so many people had Windows PCs. The more software people developed for Widows, the more people wanted a Windows PC. Windows Phone had much developer support because so few people had or wanted a Windows Phone device.
When Apple introduced the iPad, iPhone developers could easily port their apps from the iPhone to the iPad, or they could let iPhone apps run unmodified on the iPad. On the other hand, Windows Phone developers couldn’t easily port their apps to Windows RT or Windows 8 running on tablets. As the iPad grew in popularity, more people bought iPads and fewer bought Windows RT or Windows 8 tablets. That meant more developers chose to develop for iOS and also for Android rather than for Windows RT or Windows 8.
If you really want to use the past to predict the future, you can assume that whoever is the leader today won’t be the leader tomorrow when the world shifts to a new market. PCs dominated when the only way you can do anything with a computer was to buy a PC. Now your smartphone is a PC in a pocket, so most everything you can do with a PC you can do on a smartphone. That means less of a reason to use a PC.
IDC’s wild prediction that Windows Phone would become the second most popular mobile operating system was based on wishful thinking and delusional logic. Windows Phone is basically gone and replaced with Windows 10. Of course the analysts who made this wild prediction at IDC have quietly disappeared and are likely making other predictions about the future that amount to little more than reading tea leaves and assuming the past will be an exact duplicate of the future. Predicting the future is easy. Just assume nothing will be the same today as it will be tomorrow and you already have a stronger basis for accuracy than anything so-called analysts could ever dig up.
Rather than waste time listening to pundits make useless predictions about the future, it’s easier just to work on changing the future yourself. Work, create, and support innovation and the future will take care of itself.