Predictions, like resolutions, tend to flourish at the turn of the year, then get knocked down one by one as the year goes on. Unlike resolutions, however, predictions aren't necessarily grounded in hope but rather on observations of reality that are extrapolated out to the coming months.

That's what makes the better predictions so compelling -- they call attention to event-shaping trends as we head into uncharted, even uncertain, waters. So, adding to the predictions I handicapped recently , here are more that add up to an intriguing year in 2007:

John Battelle, founder of Federated Media Publishing: "Thanks to Google's ( GOOG) dominance in search and media and a complacent Justice Department , Microsoft ( MSFT) will buy a better position in online media."

Chances: 50%.

Battelle's predictions are always a good read because he's willing to go so far out on a limb with details. (Disclosure: He's an ex-employer of mine.)

Rather than simply predicting Internet merger mania, a safe but bland view, he sees Microsoft buying Yahoo! ( YHOO), IAC/InterActiveCorp ( IACI) or Time Warner's ( TWX) America Online, and MSN chief Steve Berkowitz running Microsoft's resulting media empire. "If Microsoft does not buy AOL, Yahoo! will, and failing that, AOL will go public, but the IPO will receive a lukewarm review," Battelle wrote.

Microsoft is certainly in a position to buy big names. And AOL is very likely to be in play, even if its brand has been somewhat tarnished in recent years. If Internet stocks drop significantly during 2007, the chances of these scenarios playing out will increase correspondingly.

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