Here is a interesting pre 3e prediction by a well known (for the time) industry writer
When I Own TSR
On the face of it his reasoning is sound considering Micheal Stackpole's experience. He had success in writing and developing products that relied on settings with rich and detailed backgrounds. The most prominent of which was Battletech.
He reasoning is based on extrapolating from then into what was his future. Yet he could not predict that the combination of the D20 ruleset, the Open Gaming License, and the fact many gamers were ready to return to the hobby would cause the D&D 3e to explode in popularity.
While it may seem like I am picking on Micheal Stackpole the reality is that a lot of people thought as he did. And despite Ryan Dancey and the Wizard's team looked as visionaries today it was a GAMBLE for them. The whole thing could have been dude and Ryan and his team remembered as a footnote.
The important thing that happened is that Ryan, Tweet and their team put their passion for D&D into making the best product they knew how. They also put great effort into all the little things that go into launching a major product including some not so little things like the Open Game license.
They were ready when the Black Swans showed up and reaped the rewards.
Doing your best work and getting the details right will not guarantee success. But when that opportunity roll comes you will have one heck of a modifier.