As sure as the calendar turned from 2010 to 2011, tech writers have been issuing their predictions about what the new year may bring in the Internet world.
Many of them are smart, interesting and thought-provoking. Some of them will be right, and some will be wrong. A sure-bet prediction for this year is that one of this coming year's biggest stories will certainly be something that nobody predicted.
Prediction #1: 2011 as Year of the Tablet. Nearly everyone seems to agree that the Tablet is set to become the hot device of the new year, if it hasn’t already. Originally introduced by Apple as the iPad, tablets are something between a mobile phone and a laptop – portable, powerful, and connected.
Ben Bajarin writing at Slashgear predicts 50 million of the devices will be sold this year; this even though, as he writes, “The value of a tablet to consumers is still being fleshed out but early indications are promising.” And Apple won’t have the field to itself; competitors like HP, Sony and others have been quick to jump in the tablet field. That competition, writes Renee Oricchio at Inc., will also boost Google’s Android system, which many of the competing products offer at lower prices. “I believe there are a lot of people interested in tablets,” she writes. “But, let’s face it; we’ve all gotten by just fine without one up until now. Lower prices will rope in millions beyond the early adopter and Apple faithful crowds currently jumping on the iPad.”
Prediction #2: Video Everywhere. Moving pictures are nothing new on the Internet; even live video streams sent through nothing more than a smartphone and wireless connection have become more stable. But 2011 may well be the year we leap into the future of video calls.
Thomas Weber and Brian Ries over at the Daily Beast see videophones moving from boardrooms to family rooms. “This is the year that consumers prove the naysayers wrong and begin using videophones in their day-to-day lives,” they prophesy. “It’ll get a boost from tablets, including the iPad 2, which is expected to boast a camera.” (Again with the tablets.)
And it’s not just phones; TV and the Internet will continue to woo one another again this year, likely to similar mixed results. Google TV, Hulu, Apple TV, the Boxee box, Netflix – they’ve all tried to make this relationship work with limited success. Richard MacManus sees 2011 as different: “Consumers will flock to these products as they mature and more Internet TV content is made available – particularly in the U.S. market, but hopefully to international markets too,” he writes.
But Luke McDonough, the CEO of video distribution firm RealGravity, is unconvinced. “Everyone will talk incessantly about connected TV’s in the wake of Google TV’s inevitable version upgrades,” he opines. “But no one will make any money there, and the adoption of commercial web video on TV will take much longer than everyone thinks.”
Prediction #3: Big Expectations for Social Media. What’s being named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year compared to $500 million dollars? According to DealBook, New York investment firm Goldman Sachs has invested nearly that amount into Facebook on the bet the social network could be worth upward of $50 billion.
SocialMedia Examiner spoke with 30 industry pros to get their thoughts on what 2011 may bring. Their predictions run the range from more user input to expanded mobile functionality to always-on point-of-purchase, but underlying nearly all of them is the belief that more money will pour into social media – with the expectation that social media will start pouring money back into the larger economy.
Amitha Amarasinghe generally agrees, seeing the boundaries between traditional and social media, commerce, and mobile media starting to evaporate, sometimes rapidly, in the coming year. But he also fires a warning shot:
“For many Americans Julian Assange may be a villain, but he and his Wikileaks.org opened the spectrum of social media into a much-unexpected direction during the later part of 2010,” he writes. “As a result, we can expect governments around the world introducing new legislations to control the information being shared on social media web. These new legislations might involve breach of user privacy, and control over what you may and may not share on internet.”
Scattered among these and elsewhere are a variety of other prognostications: WordPress will become the dominant authoring platform, Windows 7 mobile will flop, Baidu will expand beyond China, Chrome OS will flop…on and on.
Of course what no-one can predict are the big surprises lurking out there on the web. What will be 2011′s Stuxnet? Who will be 2011′s Wikileaks? Who knows.
And that’s the point: while no-one definitively knows, everyone can take a guess. We’d love to hear yours: what do you predict for 2011?