The old crystal ball is a bit tough to read this year. That’s not a bad thing because it means we’re heading into a year that no one really knows what’s going to happen. That means excitement ahead. 2010 can arguably be described as a year that set the table for exciting things to come. The question is how many of those exciting things will actually come to be and take hold in 2011.
Of course much of the focus is going to continue to be on the mobile sector with smartphones and tablet/slates dominating much of the news. 2010 was heralded as the Year of the Tablet and it turned out to be the Year of the iPad or the Year we Talked About Tablets Ad Nauseum. Keep in mind that the iPad was just a myth or rumor or unicorn at this time last year. There will be lots of Tablet talk this year, no doubt, and we’ll see players make promises, some fufill those promises and some leave us in the lurch.
I predict a turbulent year over all as not only will this be about hardware and platforms but about who controls the content that we all want to consume on those tablets. Business models are shifting and changing and being disrupted and we’re just beginning to see some approaches that prove that the folks making the decisions are actually thinking long term. But there’s a nagging question that lingers in all of those discussions. That question, simply put, is how do folks make enough money to keep quality content coming. These issues, along with government regulations, both here in the US and in Europe, will have huge impact on what we swipe, pinch, and zoom, on Tablets and Smartphones.
So, on to the predictions for 2011. Here’s hoping I will be as lucky as I was with my 2010 predictions.
The Big Stories
- Smartphones and Tablets will dominate the gadget sector of the industry.
- Apple will continue to dominate the news and the industry because it has successfully changed the calendar to fit its aims. Apple owns the calendar and influences everybody else’s decisions, coverage and success.
- The media will be happy to say that Apple still rules or that Apple is being beaten. Either way it will be a good story.
- Google will also dominate and Android will continue to be one of the largest stories of the year, if not the largest story.
- Tablet fatigue will begin to set in by the end of the year. While we will see lots of new Tablets, the introduction of a Tablet enhanced Android OS, the hardware won’t offer anything really newer than what we already have, and after the buzz over iPad 2 and Honeycomb Tablets subsides there will be a lot of stories asking “what’s next?”
- Governments and Old School Media Corporations will fight tooth and nail to hang on to control. They will have some success because they own the content but the Internet will start to push back in ways that will create tension.
- The carriers will be hyping 4G and and hoping that no one notices how consumer unfriendly their data plans really are or the fact that the speeds aren’t really 4G.
- Again, Cupertino will dominate the news and the product cycle. iPad 2 will be big news and continue to be what everyone compares everything else to.
- Apple will continue to innovate in its laptop business and push that segment of the industry further into chaos.
- Apple will continue to struggle with Big Media and Publishing Companies and not get the deals it wants for content. No one is going to make the iTunes mistake again. Or at least they hope not.
- Apple will not release a 7 inch iPad.
- The next iPhone will be announced as another game changer. It won’t be.
- We will start to hear increasing talk about Steve Jobs leaving Apple.
- Google holds many of the trump cards and has eager eyes watching it with intense scrutiny. Android will be the big story but Chrome OS will get some play but not until later in the year.
- Android fragmentation will become a bigger buzzword than it already is. The question will be if it is really a problem or not.
- Honeycomb Tablets will be “the next big thing.” There will be a lot of these “next big things.” Too many in fact, making it tough for consumers to gauge what’s what.
- Eric Schmidt will continue to make stupid statements.
- Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s big hope (outside of Kinect). It will continue to lag behind in 2011 due not to product problems but PR and marketing problems.
- Microsoft will release a CE based Tablet of some kind. It will not be a success immediately.
- Windows 8 will become a big story.
- There will be more calls for Steve Ballmer to step down.
Other Mobile Players
- HTC and Samsung will continue to dominate in the handheld sector. LG will make some inroads in the US, but not enough.
- RIM will finally let someone hold its Playbook. It might actually make it to market. It will fail.
- HP will release its WebOS Tablets. These devices will become a significant competitor.
- Motorola will continue its resurrection thanks largely to Google and Android Tablets and Android smartphones.
- Talk of NVidia’s Tegra 2 will quickly fade as NVidia starts hyping Tegra 3 about the time that Tegra 2 devices start getting shipped.
- Dell will continue its decline.
The Best of the Rest
- Cloud Computing will gain even more focus but the concept will take some hits because of privacy and bandwidth issues.
- Verizon and Apple will launch a Verizon iPhone
- Net Neutrality will become a bigger issue once people realize that the FCC’s new rules essentially say there are two Internets: One for mobile and one for more traditional broadband connections in the home or office.
- Amazon will continue to dominate in the eBook Wars. Google Books will have little impact. Barnes & Noble will stay a respectable competitor.
- Facebook will continue its march to Internet dominance but will begin to lose its luster by year end.
- Notebook and Laptop makers will focus on slim and thin trying to duplicate Apple’s success with the MacBook Air.
- We’ll see Tablets in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Debates about which size is best will continue forgetting that a Tablet experience is a very personal thing and that choice is a good thing.