10 likely nightmares for 2014

From China hacking the cloud to Oracle becoming open source enemy No. 1, these dark predictions should be allowed to marinate slowly

I've already told you what not to expect in the coming year. With any luck, you've been lulled into a false sense of security, confirmed in your lazy belief that nothing important ever really changes. Great! I've totally set you up for the shocking revelations to come.

1. PC vendor consolidation
Shocking, I tell you! Actually, this has been a trend for a long time, with Acer buying Gateway and eMachines almost a decade ago and Hewlett-Packard buying Compaq before that. In a down market where PC unit shipments and prices continue to fall, something's gotta give. One unlikely scenario: HP and Lenovo create a goliath and plot for world domination. A more realistic expectation would be for HP or Lenovo to purchase Acer or Asus. I can also imagine Acer purchasing Asus -- a redocking with the mothership, given that Asus was founded by former Acer employees and has been struggling. Either way, there will be fewer choices for businesses, but probably not higher prices in the near term.

2. Trans-Pacific Partnership
One of many U.S. trade agreements being done in secret, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is giving extrajudicial enforcement powers to corporations. If you were concerned about the surveillance state in 2013, you're going to love what the government is doing on your behalf in 2014. TPP back-doors some of theSOPA and PIPA stuff we protested and Wikipedia blacked out for in 2012, but without all of the inconvenient democratic process. The Obama administration is looking to fast-track this through Congress. If it doesn't succeed this time, the administration will back-door this junk in some other agreement.

3. China will hack the cloud and get caught
Frankly, if the U.S. government weren't hacking us, we'd all be still focused on the Chinese government-sponsored hackers. Chances are they've already hacked some of your favorite IaaS and PaaS vendors; we're just waiting for them to get caught again.

4. Oracle will replace Microsoft as open source enemy No. 1
Oracle has quickly shed much of Sun Microsystems' open source portfolio and actively lobbied the government not to use open source solutions. Microsoft has adopted a more inclusive strategy for Windows Azure than it did or does for its desktop platform. Of course, both are anti-open source, but Ballmer's departure, the state of Microsoft today, and its current "embrace and extend" strategy toward open source requires a calm period. Microsoft lawyers tend to semi-quietly sue everyone for patents and settle under NDA whether the target is open source or not.

Oracle, however, is always a bull in a china shop, and no one has ever accused Larry Ellison of subtlety. Whether Microsoft just doesn't do enough to stay No. 1 on every Gnubeard's list or Oracle kicks it up a notch, look for the latter to take the crown. Meanwhile, I'm reading this 2011 obvious PR plant article and marking off items one by one.

5. The NSA will be hacked
The NSA is vacuuming up an awful lot of data and putting it in big collections. Does anyone really believe the rest of the world will resist that honeypot or the NSA will do enough to protect it? I'm betting this blows up into a fiasco. When Anonymous publishes the list of senators next to their favorite porn sites, I think we might start to see the NSA reined in.

6. Key-value/column-family NoSQL vendors crank up their negative marketing
Some members of the NoSQL crowd turned on one other in 2013, with DataStax actively marketing against the sector-dominant MongoDB. In 2014, we'll see this internecine warfare accelerate. The negative marketing seems to be coming mainly from the key-value and column-family vendors for some reason. I love a good show, but "the right database for the right job" is a much better campaign than "one database to rule them all." I also expect a VC pullback on strictly key-value database vendors. Eventually they'll figure out that the barrier is rather low (we're talking a hashtable plus distribution plus persistence) and the field rather crowded.

7. Patent pools
The major tech companies have been working on their anticompetitive strategies when they aren't suing each other. Microsoft purchased the Nortel patent pool and is looking to stifle innovation with the usual patent trolling. Your congressman is on the take, so expect no significant patent reform in 2014. Instead, look for more of the same at an accelerated pace. Lawsuits for everyone!

8. California venture pullback
There isn't really a venture capital bubble yet. In fact, there's hardly any venture investment whatsoever for the bulk of the industry, which is actually not in Silicon Valley. It's the Silicon Valley VC industry that's oversubscribed, with a number of startups boasting record valuations -- but outside of California, not so much. According to the 2013 National Venture Capitlal Yearbook, there were 1,280 deals in California for a total of $14.1 billion. The closest runner-up was Massachusets with 326 deals for a total of $3 billion, and you don't want to know about the rest of the country, much less the world. We've also been seeing lots of stupid dot-com-esque things get funded, particularly in the mobile space. We're headed for a bit of a rethink and hopefully some healthy geographic diversification (unlikely) and fewer celebrity stalker apps (likely).

9. Apple's stock may tank
This is one company that can do quite well and still disappoint investors. Apple is like Microsoft in the 1990s and early 2000s, when Redmond was a bellwether that underpromised and overdelivered nearly every quarter. Although the iPhone 5s has sold well, sales of the iPhone 5c have been subar. All it takes is a little shorter line outside the Apple Store and users waiting a little longer to upgrade to avoid another iMaps debacle and you have the makings of a pullback in stock price. With success comes risk -- and the risk for Apple is to merely underwhelm for too long.

10. The end of startup blogs as we know them
After a year of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs making complete asses of themselves and feeding media stereotypes about tech entitlement in the media, expect a pullback on pseudo-authentic entrepreneur blogging (which I helped pioneer back in the day) and a return of the fiberless sugar that passes for professional PR in the modern era. If your CEO is a douchebag, "authenticity" is overrated anyway.

This article, "10 likely nightmares for 2014," was originally published atInfoWorld.com. Keep up on the latest news in application development and read more of Andrew Oliver's Strategic Developer blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

This story, "10 likely nightmares for 2014" was originally published by InfoWorld.