Friday, 10 September 2010

Happy Old Year

So that was the Northern Hemisphere Summer, huh? September already. Back to school. Brrr. A chill in the air. Colder misty mornings. Leaves turning brown. The year’s rushing by. Soon be time to start planning Christmas. OK: exaggeration. (?)

I sometimes wish I were a futurist; it sounds like fun to be able to make some predictions about the future and then run away (on to the next conference in a different continent) before anyone can hold me accountable. But let’s be fair. Just for a moment let’s pause and look back to January. What did we predict was going to happen in digital marketing this year? And has it?

I was recently re-reading my Blog post dated Jan 10 2010. Predictions for 2010 included:

The Androids are coming
Google's mobile platform is gaining ground fast. The first Android phones have sold well and more are on their way. HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson and yes, even good old Motorola (who invented the category so long ago) are all getting in on the act. Meanwhile iPhone 4, after a few embarrassing birth pains, is selling well and it currently looks like RIM/Blackberry which is in danger of getting left behind in the smartphone race. The Android invasion is gathering momentum.

Location-based services/ augmented reality
Well this one was a no-brainer. Check out (or check-in?) Foursquare, Gowalla and yes, the new Facebook Places (damn - missed that one). Watch out for privacy issues though.

Rupert Murdoch to pull all his content off Google.
Well the Paywall is up for the Times/ Sunday Times and the UK ‘red-top’ The News Of The World is next. As to how many online readers have been lost, estimates average at about 50% but some suggest many more.  Are these few paying online readers a sufficiently engaged, high-quality audience for which advertisers will willingly pay a premium?  The Jury’s still out.

If anything, Steve Jobs of Apple appears to hate Adobe’s Flash even more than at the start of the year. The iPad and iPhone don't support Flash. No apologies for this from Apple. All the Flash designers I know are learning HTML5 and quickly...

...and the Apple tablet
OK so we didn’t get the name quite right (iSlate? iTab? Could easily have been.).

But Apple certainly launched the iPad on January 26th and at a stroke defined the new tablet category, selling 3 million units in the first 80 days. The Samsung Galaxy Tab has just been announced and we await tablet offerings from HP, RIM (the "BlackPad") and even Toshiba. Game on.

Meanwhile downloads from the Apple App Store hit 6.5 billion. Apple also announced the iBooks app (for the iPad naturally) while iAds promises to disrupt (or should that be kick-start?) mobile advertising in a big way. In May Apple overtook Microsoft to become the world's biggest technology company. No wonder Steve Jobs seems to be enjoying every new announcement even more than the last these days, despite the odd glitch along the way.

Admittedly we also predicted a Facebook IPO (2012 apparently), that Twitter’s growth would stall and that Steve Ballmer would step down at Microsoft. But some of these weren’t really serious. And could still come true anyway. It certainly seems that Windows 7 is a better product than the bizarre launch promotional activity had led us to expect. Oh and News International has not YET done a content deal with Bing (but watch this space). At least we didn't predict 2010 would be 'The Year Of Mobile’ (as everyone knows, that will be 2011)...

Overall, then, not too shabby. We’ll try to do better for next year. With apologies to our Southern Hemisphere readers, (btw, anyone need a speaker in Cape Town?) let’s enjoy our digital Autumn...