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Professionals and prognosticators are always trying to predict the future. What’s next for stocks, fashion, the Web, etc. For online professionals, the question is more narrow. Who will be the next Google? What will be the next trend to take the Internet by storm?

I have no crystal ball, but in keeping with Flat Creek’s perspective that the old rules still apply, even in the face of exciting new technology, I believe the next wave of online success will not be new applications or features but more likely adoption of existing technologies. The ones who make money aren’t the ones on the cutting edge of a brand new idea. They are the second generation who gets the idea right.

Look at Facebook as an example. Friendster introduced the Web to the new concept of social networking, but just now Facebook (and it’s grown-up cousin LinkedIn) are really starting to hit their stride. The reason? There are two steps to every great product success:

1. Introduction
2. Adoption

Introduction happens when a new product or idea hits the marketplace. Think VCRs or PDAs. But it took years for those things to be adopted as an industry. Often the first movers (such as Friendster) were crushed and follow-up companies (such as Facebook) took all the glory. Yahoo was a big mover in introducing “search” to the Internet. Yahoo is now a distant second to Google, who came along with a better product and fast adoption.

Today, we see the widespread adoption of social media – blogs, for instance. The next wave of adoption will probably take place where exciting products are still being introduced – namely, mobile devices. As consumers, carriers, and device makers all step up to the plate, mobile data adoption will follow in a cycle of growth. What will likely not grow are podcasts. Just as with cell phones, quality is key to product adoption. Podcasts just don’t have the quality products or content to make it to the mainstream. Mobile TV, however, is a great new addition and will likely grow as new products are adopted.

Do you know what’s next in your industry? Contact us. We might have an idea or two.