Gartner yesterday released its ten key predictions for business and IT in 2007 and beyond. These included forecasts that PC prices will halve by 2010, and that Vista will be the last major Windows release.

Another prediction caught the eye though – that the blogging phenomenon will peak next year and level out thereafter.

One of the reasons the analyst group gives for this is that all those people who intend to experiment with blogging already have done so, and those who haven’t caught the bug have moved on.

Gartner says that there are now 200m ex-bloggers, and that the blogger figure will peak at 100m.

This is a major assumption to make, especially when the figures for blogging are so unreliable. For starters, we would take issue with Technorati’s definition of ‘active blogs’. It defines an ‘active blog’ as one which has been updated at least once every 3 months, which doesn’t sound very active at all.

If we define an ‘active blog’ as one which is updated monthly (which still isn’t that active), then the actual number of blogs is far lower – perhaps at little as 1% of the 100m figure.

And that’s before we look at splogs…

Splogs (spam blogs) are responsible for many of the blogs in Technorati’s figures, though exactly what proportion they represent is hard to tell. In the most recent State of the Blogosphere update, it listed the proportion of splogs at 4%, down from 8% for previous updates.

However, this figure is only an estimate – the real figure may be much higher. For instance, a quick search on Technorati for blogs which reference ‘E-Consultancy’ reveals that more than 50% of those listed are spam blogs. This suggests that the 100m figure may fall substantially if splogs are removed from the calculation.

In addition, Gartner’s figures make the assumption that the number of potential bloggers is finite. What about the proportion of people who have yet to get internet access? Will the increasingly tech-savvy children and teenagers of today not become the bloggers of tomorrow?

Does the rapid growth of personal pages on social network sites like Bebo and MySpace not constitute a form of blogging?

And then there’s the issue of the parts of the world where the internet penetration is yet to reach its peak. In China, for instance, blogger numbers are growing rapidly.

According to estimates, there are now 17m bloggers in China, half of which are deemed to be active (updated monthly in this definition). This is a 30-fold increase since 2002. With a population that numbers more than 1.3b, there is surely much more room for growth.

According to Internet World Stats (last update November 2006), the total number of internet users is 1.076bn, which is 16.7% of the total world population. North America and Europe make up nearly 50% of that figure. There is still plenty of room for growth. 

All in all, we’re not impressed by this prediction, based as it is on unreliable statistics, as well as failing to take into account the potential for growth in blogging worldwide.