Sunday, 10 January 2010

More predictions for 2010

“...and a new one just begun.”

It’s the time of the (New) Year for predictions...So, having dragged ourselves back to reality, overcoming ice, snow and seasonal hangovers, let’s jump on the bandwagon and look ahead to what we will apparently henceforth be calling “twentyten”. What will be big in technology and digital marketing this year?

Real-time Search

Google and Bing are quickly ramping up their real-time search, having licensed real-time data streams from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, et al.  But real-time search is still regarded as a niche, and not yet regularly included in the main search results page. In 2010, this is likely to change as the search engines learn for which searches it makes sense to show Tweets and other real-time updates. Real-time search will also become a form of navigation, especially on Twitter and Facebook. The key will be to combine real-time search with filters so that people are given the most relevant results (a mix of the most authoritative and the most recent information). This is far from straightforward!

Cloud computing: Online apps

There is no doubt that Google Apps and OpenOffice (from Sun Microsystems et al) are already hurting Microsoft Office. Access your documents and calendar from any internet-connected device, and collaborate in real-time with others, working on the same documents. And save money (and hard-drive space) on desktop applications.

HD takes off, Blu-ray stalls

HD TVs will continue to switch to LED backlights instead of the more traditional fluorescent lamps. This will reduce power consumption and give better contrast, since it's easy to switch LEDs on or off in those sections of the image that are light or dark.

However Blu-ray, having won the brief war against HD-DVD, might find it controls a shrinking market as downloadable video (e.g. via iTunes or Amazon Video on Demand) booms. As shown by the success of mp3 audio and the fuzzy videos on YouTube, the highest quality format may not in fact be the ‘killer app’, especially if it comes at a premium price: we might instead see a 'good-enough revolution'.

As for the 'next big thing' we can look to 3D TV. But I predict 2010 won't be the big breakthrough year for this exciting new technology.

The Androids are coming

The Motorola Droid (Milestone in the UK) launched on October 17, 2009 running Google's 'Android' Operating System. Now the new Google-branded Android phone, Nexus One is launching into an increasingly competitive market. Other Smartphone makers Apple (iPhone) and RIM (Blackberry) as well as Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung are watching closely. Apple may be playing 'catch-up' for once. There are already more than 10,000 apps for Android. We'll be seeing more Android phones this year.

Chrome OS

Last November, Google gave us a first peek at the Chrome Operating System, expected to be released this year. Chrome OS is Google’s most direct attack on Windows so far with an OS built to run Web apps- fast. Google is also rumoured to be working on a Chrome Netbook which will demonstrate what is possible with it a “Web OS.” It may be perfect for Tablet computers also (see below).  Chrome OS is potentially highly disruptive.

Windows Azure

Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform, launches as a paid service on February 1. It’s a huge bet by Microsoft, which has built massive data centres; they will need to get developers onto the platform quickly.

Location-based services

A recurrent theme in this post is the mobile Web.  The combination of GPS chips in mobile phones, social networks, and increasingly innovative mobile apps means that geolocation is fast becoming a must-have for any mobile app.  We’ve seen social broadcasting apps like Foursquare and Gowalla.  New Geo APIs from Twitter, SimpleGeo, and possibly Facebook will change the game. Twitter has recently launched its own Geo API for Twitter apps and it has acquired Mixer Labs, which created the Geo API.


The World Wide Web is built on HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and the newest version which has been taking shape for a while is HTML5.  Already web browsers such as Firefox and Google’s Chrome browser are HTML5-friendly. Once HTML5 takes hold, it will reduce the need for Flash or Silverlight plug-ins to view videos, animations, and other rich applications. It will make Web apps behave more like desktop apps.  A big opportunity for web agencies as their clients demand 'HTML5 inside' in 2010!

Mobile Video

Now that video cameras are integrated into the latest iPhone 3GS and other Smartphones, live video streaming apps are becoming more common, streaming both from phones and to them.  As the mobile data networks increase their 3G bandwidth and then move to true broadband with 4G (see Verizon’s new LTE network), mobile video usage will surge.

Augmented Reality (AR)

The increasing range of augmented reality apps allow us to use the camera on our smartphone to add a layer of data to reality by associating detailed information from the mobile web with the live images captured by the camera.  Expect to see lots more AR apps this year.

And now a few more speculative ideas (just for fun):
  • Google faces a massive anti-trust suit (at last)
  • Steve Ballmer steps down at Microsoft after 10 years as CEO
  • Twitter stops growing; this trend is led by Stephen Fry and other celebs taking 'time-out'
  • “Cash or Cell Sir?”- mobile payments start to kill plastic. (see also Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s latest start-up, Square, which will be a rival to Paypal; it allows users to accept payment via physical credit cards on a mobile device.)
  • Facebook IPO (25-year-old Mark Zuckerberg would stand to become an actual $billionaire)
  • Rupert Murdoch pulls all content off Google (and does a deal with Bing)


Tablet fest!

Yes: they’re the most anticipated products of this year: tablet computers.  We’ve seen pics of some beautiful Android ‘concept tablets’, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been showing off a Windows 7 HP tablet and, of course, there is a lot of talk of the tablet which could define the category, the Apple Tablet. Or iSlate or iTab or iPad or whatever it’s called (assuming it actually exists). Rumours include a 10 to 11-inch touch screen, a processor not from Intel but instead one designed by PA Semi (which Apple bought two years ago)and a price tag of around $1,000. Indeed if Steve Jobs doesn't have a tablet somewhere under his black mock-turtleneck jumper ready to unveil at the Apple January 26th meeting there will be widespread disappointment. Do we need yet another computer in between a laptop and an iPhone?  Yes and I’m sure Steve will explain why. The fact is that increasingly the Web is all we need (bad luck Microsoft).  As all of our apps and data and social lives move onto the Web, it may be that the Tablet will be the embodiment of the Web in device form, stripped down to basics, with an intuitive touch interface. It will also be a superior e-reader for digital books, newspapers, and magazines PLUS a portable Web TV. Disruptive or what?

Most confidently of all, I predict that several of the above won’t happen. It will certainly be an interesting year in technology and digital marketing. We hope it’s a good one. And in terms of the always-on mobile internet, I suspect the war is far from over...