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20 Realistic Tech Predictions for 2019 -- Part One

Some measured prognostications on what 2019 could have in store for Google, Facebook, Amazon and others.

thestreet.com, Eric Jhonsa, Dec. 24, 2018 – Following a tumultuous 2018, what will 2019 have in store for tech companies?

Here's the first half of a set of predictions on what the new year will deliver for both tech giants and smaller peers. As a rule, I tried not to get carried away here (e.g., I'm not predicting Amazon will buy Walmart, or that Apple will snap up Disney), as well as to learn from what I got right and wrong when making predictions at the end of 2016 and the end of 2017.

1. Facebook's Pain Is Google's Gain

Though many of the doom-and-gloom predictions about Facebook (FB) are overdone, it is fair to say that usage of its core news feed (its largest revenue source) is under pressure in developed markets that account for the lion's share of its revenue. As Facebook's management works to offset such pressures by growing ad sales for its Stories services and better monetizing its messaging apps, while also contending with regulatory probes and employee morale issues, businesses large and small aren't going to stop growing their online ad budgets.

That creates an opportunity for Alphabet/Google (GOOGL) to benefit from Facebook's near-term challenges. The company's bread-and-butter search ad business looks as strong as ever; investments in everything from mobile search features to Google Assistant to leveraging user data and machine learning to improve ROIs for ad campaigns have been paying off nicely. And looking broadly at Google's ad business (YouTube included), the company has done a pretty good job of positioning itself well in major online ad segments such as local commerce, online video, online travel and (though Amazon.com (AMZN) is a serious rival here) e-commerce.

2. Chip and Software Firms Remain Eager to Consolidate

If not for trade tensions, and the worries they helped stoke about Chinese approval for transactions, 2018 would have likely been another big year for semiconductor M&A. Should trade-related worries cool, that's likely to spell a pickup in semi consolidation, given that a lot of the arguments for it (i.e., greater economies of scale, better pricing power, more comprehensive product lines) are still in place and the domestic antitrust environment remains favorable.

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