2009 the Big Kahuna, 2010 an Even Bigger Kahuna

14Jan10

NOTE: This was supposed to obviously be posted pre-CES, written well before CES. Sorry for getting it up now…

If 2009 was the year of “hope,” then let me dub the year 2010 as the year of refinement in regards to technological developments. In looking back throughout the last year, I noticed one major trend: convergence as a stepping stone. Everywhere I looked, people seemed prepared to connect different technologies together. Digital convergence was without a doubt the central theme for technology last year. Non-techies everywhere no longer needed advice on how to move a file from their mobile phone/device to their computers or vice versa. The proliferation of wireless internet, be it through 3G connections or more public Wi-Fi has reversed the degree of difficulty that integration used to require. Seeing that the market was ready for such new revolutions, electronics companies pushed the boundaries of what could be sold, fearing less that they would end up putting people off with unnecessary all-in-one devices.

What we’ve been graced with are digital cameras and memory cards that include Wi-Fi and can upload photos and videos to web albums or video sharing sites such as YouTube as well as to social networks including the likes of Facebook and MySpace. Once considered niche markets, social networks have made it clear that they are here to stay, infiltrating our lives like never before. Because people spend so much time on Facebook, failing to capitalize on that with complimenting software is now considered a missed opportunity.

Cell phones finally stopped being one hit wonders with more people jumping on board the smartphone bandwagon lead by the iPhone and BlackBerry. Photos uploaded onto Flickr from iPhones finally surpassed popular standalone DSLRs. Google put their foot down with Google Android 2.0, telling the world that they are serious about the mobile arena.

Netbooks drove flagging PC sales to levels previously thought unattainable. These underpowered mini-notebooks finally got much needed processor improvements from Intel’s Atom chips. HD viewing is finally a possibility thanks to Nvidia ION graphics. Screen sizes no longer fall below the 10.1″ range but can max out at 12 inches. Keyboards went “chic-let style.”

Two wonderful operating systems were released: OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and Windows 7. Both OSes were reason enough to buy a new computer or invest in an upgrade. Microsoft bounced back from all the Vista backlash to sell a useful OS again and Snow Leopard refined the Leopard OS with hundreds of tweaks. Both are 64-bit OSes that will be better future proof. Microsoft’s Bing search engine also finally stands a chance to be the David to the search giant, Google the Goliath.

Along with greater adoption for HDTVs, Blu-Ray is finally approaching levels that are cheap enough to warrant a purchase, no doubt helped by a much needed price cut on the PlayStation 3 – the spearheader for Blu-Ray.

Movie producers realized that suing pirates wouldn’t help make up for all the lost money that lousy movies might have generated. Instead, they finally opted to rejuvenate the moving picture with 3-D and IMAX experiences that can’t be replicated through pirated films or the home theater experience. No longer considered a gimmick, 3-D movies are being billed as the reason to justify that $15 ticket and James Cameron’s “Avatar” has proven that.

The list can go on and on, so I will end it here and move on. What will be refined in 2010 that hasn’t already been near-perfected that will bring us closer to a digital harmony? There are so many things, but let me just name a few big ones that will be sure to make a splash this year.

The big one will be a digital book/magazine transformation/makeover, once again led by market revolutionary, Apple, Inc. The so called Apple tablet or “iSlate” as many in the blogosphere are calling it, will supposedly change the way personal computing is done, much like the way the iMac changed the idea that the computer had to be a boring beige box; the iPhone that a mobile phone can be a hand held computer; and the iPod where digital music can generate a profit if paired with a good digital distribution model. With so many rumors fluttering around almost nonstop and so many big analysts and publications writing about the “iSlate,” it hardly seems like vaporware anymore. There is enormous pressure on Apple to bring the goods to the table so to speak, but if their experience with the iPhone and iPod Touch has any bearing in history, their chances of success are reasonably well.

While computer makers everywhere scramble to bring a tablet to the market, netbooks may finally get a fierce competitor. Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook eReaders are selling incredibly well, leading the public consensus that 2010 will be a big year for digital books/magazines/newspapers. If the New York Times follows through with a subscription-based model copying the likes of the Wall Street Journal, then it may indeed be the right moment for eReaders to proliferate and help provide a greener experience, one where newspapers are strewn across the streets.

USB 3.0 arrived last year in a few select products, but expect to see a lot more hardware for the new universal cable spec. Capable of moving 4.8Gbit/s, 3.0 will blow right by USB 2.0 which tops out at 480Mbit/s. I expect external hard drives, webcams, and other peripherals to get the upgrade. Sounds like it will be a great year to replace an aging computer.

Smartphones will continue their uphill penetration of the cellular market. The iPhone will no doubt get its annual upgrade and will have hardware boosts across the board. Mobile apps will finally start reaching levels of professional quality now that developers have had some time to tinker with the developer kits. The uptick in smartphones replacing regular standalone phones will predictably start taxing ailing networks and prompt better service from the major cellular providers. AT&T, who has largely been criticized by the public for its shoddy service and failure to enhance their network in light of their iPhone exclusivity, will need more than Luke Wilson in their ad campaigns to clean up the damage that Verizon is trying to expel. 3G adoption will increase to news levels, and those who have the best and most covered 3G networks will come out the winners.

Google’s Chrome browser will continue to gobble up market share at an alarming rate, putting more distance in the small lead they recently received over Safari. It remains to be seen if their Chrome OS will be a large hit or not, but cloud computing will lead everything with information being constantly pushed to any equipped device.

2009 was just the beginning. 2010 will take all the strides that were made in 2010 and throw it in your face at breakneck speed. Internet speeds will be faster. 1080p YouTube videos will become the new standard. Everything you do offline will be moved online if it hasn’t already and it will all be handled better and faster, giving you what you want, when you want it. Oh yes, 2010 is going to be momentous. I can’t wait!

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