A year ago, I took a look at five business news cliffhangers that were dangling as 2006 came to a close. After a dozen months of plot twists, we can look back and wrap these stories up in pretty bows.
Let's go over them, realizing that what may seem laughably obvious today wasn't entirely clear at this point last year.
Will Steve Jobs go to jail?
Are you kidding? Steve Jobs didn't need to trade in his black turtlenecks for prison pinstripes, but Apple's
After several lesser-known CEOs were cast in doubt in their own options backdating scandals, Jobs could have been the Martha Stewart example. Instead, the company was able to shrug off the concerns. Jobs is -- and probably always will be -- a free man in every sense of the word.
Will Windows Vista and Office 2007 save Microsoft?
After several delays through 2006, this was supposed to be the year for Microsoft's
Shareholders are smiling. Microsoft stock hit highs last seen on the frothier side of the tech stock bubble. However, Vista hasn't been a home run. It was supposed to lift the PC industry, but the wave of upgrades has been slow. When the latest installment in Apple's brilliant "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" campaign is taking swings at the cumbersome and buggy Vista upgrade process, you know you have a perception problem.
The share gains vindicate Microsoft. Vista isn't a failure. It's just not the slam dunk that Mr. Softy bulls were hoping for this year.
Will the real estate market bounce back?
This one wasn't even close. Instead of bottoming out, the residential real estate market fell into an even bigger sinkhole. There was already a glut of unsold inventory in the marketplace before subprime borrowers began defaulting on their exotic loans.
Like all cyclical industries, the developers will rise again. With weaker players bowing out, they may come back even stronger. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like a turnaround is in the cards for 2008, and it certainly didn't happen in 2007.
Who will be the next prolific CEO to go?
I nailed this one. All four CEOs that I placed on the hot seat were let go. Gap's
The iffy economy may send other companies into tailspins in 2008, but you're unlikely to see a batch similar to the high-profile names that were sent packing in 2007.
Will Google remain buoyant?
No stock is immortal, but Google
More importantly, Google's market share continues to grow. The search engine giant now commands nearly 58% of all of the country's search queries, according to media researcher Nielsen Online. That will serve Big G well as it heads into the year ahead, even though its rivals have pulled off meaty acquisitions in 2007.
So will Google prove mortal in 2008? That's yet another cliffhanger, of course. For now, the stock chart doesn't lie. Google lives on.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't mind a cliffhanger, as long as it's not light air waiting at the other end. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.