The Lite Side

Great Mistakes of 2004

- 2004.02.02

Each year we attempt to identify certain trends in computing that will force themselves into the public's consciousness. I bet you already know what they are; this is, after all, the second month of the year, and prognostications have been as thick on the Web as CD-ROMs without serial numbers in the shoebox in your closet. (Even groundhogs are making predictions today!)

The only reason left to read the article that follows is to point out my errors, and without further blah blah blah, here is the Lite Side's

Predictions of What Retrospective Articles in the Field of Personal Computing will Be about at the End of 2004


Looking Ahead at Our Behind

January: Steve Jobs announces the iPod mini at Macworld. Kinko's opens an online music store, offering single tracks for 80¢ each, with a 5¢ discount if your order a thousand and are willing to wait until Thursday to pick them up. Apple introduces the KiloMac, and Steve demonstrates how the interior can be used a parking garage for the Volkswagen iMouse (USB cable not included).

February: Dell comes out with its Dellicious, a tiny MP3 player slightly larger than the iPod mini and with sixteen times as many ports. In fact, every square inch of the device has a port of some kind, making it difficult to find the buttons that operate it. Dell defends its design as providing "choice" for consumers. Kmart opens an online store that provides temporary 50¢ downloads at unannounced times when its home page is flashing blue. Pepsi launches its iTunes bottle cap free download promotion during the Super Bowl.

March: Sales figures for the Apple iTunes Music Store fall below 50% of total online music sales, with every other vendor combined taking the lead. Rob Enderle uses this as evidence that the iTMS is "doomed" and earns another Death Knell. Radio Shack opens an online music store and charges $3 per download. Cnet reports on the new phenomenon of teen dumpster diving for iTunes caps.

April: The nation of Swaziland declares it will no longer purchase Microsoft products and will convert completely to obsolete DOS systems it finds in neighboring countries' dumpsters. The king of Swaziland kidnaps three brides in one day and makes international headlines. Holland starts an online Music Store, but makes no sales because no one can understand how their spelling works. Fifteen people in Michigan are arrested for removing all the bottle caps from a gross of Pepsi bottles in a Meijer store, leaving the Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Sierra Mist behind.

May: On Friends, Ross is shown using a Dellicious MP3 player while Rachel uses an iPod mini. Sales of the Dellicious plummet. On ER, Dr. Carter gives everyone iPod minis for putting up with his self-righteous Africa stories. Halliburton starts an online music store, dubbed the HMS Titanic, that provides music to our boys in Iraq (yes, they're still there). Halliburton charges the Pentagon $459.34 per download. Supplies of Pepsi run out in major metropolitan markets.

June: The entire state of California's fiscal crisis is temporarily solved by a major earthquake that traps Michael Jackson in an underground parking garage. The influx of paparazzi provide a much-needed boost to the local economy. Jackson is rescued but accuses the firefighters of squeezing his arm too tight when they hauled him out of his tiny spider-hole. Deprived of his regular medicine, Jackson's skin darkens. Newsweek is accused of darkening his skin too much in its cover picture. When asked what he wants first after being rescued, Jackson says, "I want a Pepsi so I can get a free iTunes download," for which he is compensated enough to pay off a day's worth of legal fees. The Nation of Islam starts a music download service, which fails utterly due to various conspiracies managed by the Bush administration.

July: The Pepsi iTunes promotion ends, primarily due a shortage of bottle plastic. Apple identifies several customers who purchased iPods to take advantage of the free downloads, but the ads are dismissed as too Switch-like. Rob Enderle predicts the Pepsi promotion will cause Pepsi to go bankrupt just out of association with Apple, and earns a Death Knell Echo. Paris Hilton starts a music download service that tanks when everyone finds out there is no video to download. iTunes for Linux is announced, but no one who uses Linux will download it due to a really vicious flame war on Slashdot.

August: Over seventeen thousand music download services have started. Slate predicts that by the end of 2005, everyone will have a download service of their own, which ironically brings us back to the situation we had when Napster (first edition) existed, except that now everyone is getting paid one cent per download. Apple drops its download price to 50¢. City dumps are reporting wholesale looting of old Pepsi bottles until someone tells the looters more are to be found at the recycling center. On The Simpsons, Homer starts a music download service but cannot make it operate without Lisa's help. Lisa argues there are too many digital rights restrictions on downloaded music and refuses to participate, dooming Homer's venture to failure. Fortunately, he makes just enough money to pay off his expenses, and the family is left in the same condition as when the episode started.

September: Osama bin Laden is captured in Miami masquerading as Dave Barry, who is off playing semiprofessional football with a group of writers called the Untouchables. bin Laden reveals where millions of unclaimed Pepsi bottle caps are stashed in a mountain cave in Afghanistan, and also where he hid Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction. It turns out they were in an old Maxwell House coffee can in his closet. It is well known on the Net that bin Laden uses a Dellicious, but the Massive Right Wing Conspiracy successfully keeps this information from becoming widely known. Al Qaeda starts a free music download service. After downloading music, however, there is a significant chance your hard drive will explode, but only if you listen to four Dixie Chicks tracks in a row.

October: The presidential race heats up. Howard Dean publicly declares his support for Apple and declares that Windows has caused everything from SARS to the not-guilty verdict for Michael Jackson. Ron Enderle predicts that Dean will lose the election because of Apple, and earns an Apple Death Knell by Association. Apple responds by not posting anything about Dean on their Hot News site. President Bush accepts Dick Cheney's resignation for health reasons and selects John Ashcroft as his running mate for November. Condoleeza Rice is seriously ticked. President Bush is given an iPod in a public setting and is seen dropping it and accidentally stepping on it - and pronounces the name of the device as "i - pooed." The Mac Observer notes in its spin that the iPod still works after Bush stomps on it. Low End Mac starts a music download service offering 44k 8-bit mono MP0* tracks digitized on a Mac IIfx using SoundRecorder, Dan's personal LP collection, and a 20-year-old turntable at the low-end price of 10¢, just as the bottom falls completely out of the start-a-download-service frenzy. Dan is seriously ticked.

* The Low End Musicplayer software only works on pre-PowerPC hardware and supports hardware as old as the Mac Plus. With nobody else adopting MP-zero, there is no upgrade path, but true low-end users don't really care about that.

November: During the election, Florida's election system works fine, but California's melts down due to a flaw in the Windows web server managing the distribution of ballots. Bush determines this is due to a terrorist attack on the server using the new NOSEBLEED virus that causes a denial of service attack on the election server. Microsoft issues its three hundredth patch of the year and says the fault lies with the IT technicians in the election office who didn't apply the patch. Microsoft's download service is discovered to automatically download music for you every time you turn on the computer, charging your account 99¢ each time without your knowledge. Despite outrage over this development on the Net, the mainstream press ignores the problem and in no one else notices. Microsoft promises to refund the money to anyone who claims it for a small handling fee of $1.98. Unclaimed funds will be donated to an obscure school of Music in Thailand. Oh, and Bush is reelected. A protester is arrested for throwing some of the few remaining unclaimed Pepsi iTunes download promotion caps at him.

December: Overvalued downloading music store stocks collapse, leaving behind a wasteland of canceled services, expiring music registrations that cannot be activated, and a general economic slowdown. AOL starts a Netscape-branded music download service (along with a Netscape-branded shoe and a Netscape-branded beer), forgetting it has an exclusive deal with Apple. Apple recaptures a greater than 50% market share but is widely blamed for causing the overall reduction in the volume of downloads by Ron Enderle, earning him a Manslaughter Knell. Executives at Tyco reveal they have established a deal where everyone who buys a toy gets a used, but washed, Pepsi bottle cap. Unfortunately these turn out to be ordinary bottle caps, not free-download-bottle-caps, as Tyco has completely misinterpreted the whole bottle-cap phenomenon. Prisoners ini California prisons begin wearing soda-bottle-cap necklaces, and necklaces made of used iTunes promotional caps go for hundreds of dollars. A new fashion trend emerges in the nation's high schools but doesn't really take off until Rush Limbaugh makes fun on it - clothes with bottle-cap buttons. Apple is widely recognized at the source for this fashion shift, though as usual it cannot derive any profit from it. Bill O'Reilly starts a music download service "for real Americans" during an interview of Steve Jobs, whom he tells to "shut up."

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