Microsoft to acquire Yahoo
Reports had been circulating since May 2007 that Microsoft was about to make a bid for Yahoo. When the $44.6bn (£30bn) offer arrived in January, the industry believed that the deal would appeal to Yahoo's stakeholders and go ahead. Yahoo rejected the offer, however, citing a search deal with Google as one of the main reasons.
When the Google search advertising deal fell through, Yahoo's share price collapsed and co-founder Jerry Yang stood down as chief executive. Rumours again circulated that Microsoft would make another offer. It could happen.
Credit crunch to increase outsourcing
As rumours of the credit crunch became a reality this year, outsourcing reports tended to focus on how an economic slowdown could drive a fresh wave of outsourcing and offshoring as companies attempted to cut costs. Top outsourcing firms, meanwhile, remained confident that the slowing world economy would not affect business.
However, an upturn in the number of outsourcing contracts did not materialise. In fact, outsourcing research firm TPI's third-quarter index for 2008 shows that only 128 contracts were signed in the period, amounting to a global total of €11.5bn (£10.8bn), the weakest quarter for total contract value of outsourcing deals in six years.
It is still uncertain whether the decreasing number of contracts could just be a temporary lull, as companies stall outsourcing decisions while they restructure the business.
If the outsourcing industry does pick up again in 2009, and grows at a faster rate than it did in the first half of 2008, contracts are likely to take a different shape. As outsourcing buyers and sellers try to protect themselves against currency fluctuations, contracts are likely to shift from project-based contract labour to longer-term relationships.
Global downturn to affect the green agenda
A number of reports this year suggested that the credit crunch could slow green spending as companies focus investment on business necessities. But there has been little evidence to reinforce this prediction.
Even if firms begin to stray from their green strategies, increased commitment from the UK and US governments to fight climate change should keep the environmental agenda afloat.
Ed Miliband, the UK's energy and climate change secretary, has insisted that there will be no change to the government's climate change plans in the face of the recession, and Downing Street looks set to go ahead with Lord Turner's climate change committee, which will increase Britain's target to cut carbon emissions from 60 per cent to 80 per cent by 2050.
US president elect Barack Obama, meanwhile, plans a $150bn (£102bn) investment in clean technologies over the next 10 years.
Google's Knol to rival Wikipedia
Google launched a beta of Knol at the end of last year. The web application functions in a similar way to Wikipedia, but claims to address the criticisms frequently levelled at Wikipedia. The project was referred to as a 'Wikipedia killer' and was seen as a logical step for Google to increase revenue by exploiting Wikipe dia's success.
Unlike Wikipedia entries, 'Knols' allow authors to build up a professional reputation by preventing articles being edited by participants unknown to the author, and by disallowing multiple contributions to a topic. Google shares ad revenue with writers, providing an economic incentive to participate.
But Knol has yet to take off. Even after Google opened it up to the public in July, Wikipedia entries still dominate Google's search rankings and Knol entries hardly feature at all.
It has been suggested recently that the project could face the same fate as Lively, Google's virtual world offering that was once vaunted as a competitor to Second Life.
An event for 2009? Still uncertain. Knol's success will depend on whether Google is prepared to step up investment in the project.
The end of spam
Bill Gates remarked at the 2004 World Economic Forum that the spam problem would be solved in a few years' time but, as anyone with an email account can testify, the problem is still far from resolution.
Spam volumes are actually predicted rise to more than 95 per cent of all email in 2009, despite a crackdown on several major spam outfits in recent months.
Junk email levels in 2008 remained largely unchanged compared with the previous year, making up between 90 and 95 per cent of total email attempts. But the growing use of botnets could push this figure over the 95 per cent mark next year.
We could also see a rise in spam levels from countries not previously known for sending spam, such as Brazil and Turkey, which will only add to the problem.
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