Just a quick set of predictions for 2009. I'll revisit nearer the end of the year to see how I've done.
Messaging Breaks Out
Right now asynchronous systems, particularly ones using message oriented middleware, are still pretty fringe. However, even though I disagree with the technology choice, techniques like XMPP are starting to bring asynchronous communications to the masses. I predict that the extension of XMPP, the forthcoming standardization of AMQP, new infrastructure being developed (like RabbitMQ, OpenAMQ, and Qpid), and extension to new programming languages and application execution environments will all drive more and more developers to finally end polling for updates.
Cloud Will Become Less Buzzy
Right now Cloud/Utility computing is really too buzzy to make heads or tails of, and I think it's suffering from that: when you say "Cloud Computing", it means both nothing and anything. I think 2009 will be the year that people start to solidify what works best in a utility computing space versus a local hosted space, and where hosting providers get mature enough and technology becomes mainstream enough that there's an assumption of utility over local hosting.
Java Will Stagnate
I predict that Java 7, if it even hits by the end of the year, will be pretty anemic and, quite frankly, lame. There will be some interesting enhancements to the JVM, but that's pretty much all that's going to be noteworthy.
C# Will Over-Expand
The entire Microsoft ecosystem will expand and grow beyond the ability of typical Microsoft stack developers to keep up. We're already seeing it with WinForms vs. WPF, LINQ vs. ADO.NET Entity Framework, and whole new technologies like WCF. I predict by the end of the year the Microsoft ecosystem has become so bewildering that while leaders in the community push for more change, day-to-day developers push for a halt to just absorb what's been happening.
Non-Traditional VM Languages Will Break Out
Right now most developers in enterprise systems are coding against the "core" languages (C#, VB.Net, Java) against their respective VMs. This reflects in no small part the maturity and power of their underlying runtimes (the CLR and JVM respectively), but the leading edge of the communities have already started to explore other languages that offer concrete advantages (F#, Scala, Groovy) on the tight runtimes that are already available. This will be the year that those actually break out of the leading edge and into mainstream use.
No-One In Social Networking Makes Money
I still think, by the end of 2009, there won't be a player in the social networking space that is cashflow positive, and I don't think it'll be by choice. I think the technology is so disruptive that we still haven't seen the "right way" to monetize it yet.
Sun Radically Restructures
Sun can't keep burning through cash the way they have been, and they can't continue to have such a chaotic story. At some point in 2009, Sun will relatively radically restructure itself in a bid for survival. Hopefully they'll have read my analysis (part 1, part 2). At the very least, they'll change their ticker away from JAVA.
I think you'll note that all my predictions are fuzzy. That's so that in December, 2009 when we revisit them, we can determine that I was partially right on nearly all of them.