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Chrome Netbook OS; Tablet PCs; LBS; Open Source

Seven Technology Predictions for 2010

2010 will undoubtedly be a year of technology innovation. In 2009, Twitter revolutionized the way we get news, it brought us closer to those who were a part of the news, almost making traditional media irrelevant. I don’t know who (or what) will be the Twitter of 2010, but below are a few predictions for the coming year.

Google’s Chrome Netbook OS will be a hit. Their OS will mostly be dependent on a Google Account. A Google Account opens up their full Google Apps suite, which includes email, calendar, word processing, and MS Office like functions. Google’s renditions of their current OS have been well received by the “blogosphere” especially it’s ability to fit on a 1GB flash drive. An OS that small is perfect for Netbooks and tablet PCs. The smaller footprint also gives the user more capabilities. A key part of the Chrome OS will be the Chrome brower (my browser of choice) and one that is noted for its speed and security. Google rarely has missteps and I don’t foresee that Chrome OS will be one of them.

Tablet PCs will dethrone the Kindle and the Nook – Recently, Barnes and Noble stated that they expected to ship 60k Nook handsets this year. Amazon stated that the Kindle was the largest gift ever sold this holiday season. Both devices are great at one thing – reading e-books. But who will be satisfied with a $250 E-reader, when a full fledged tablet PC can be had for $300? Many tablets on their way are going to be “subsidized” devices with 3G services. They will be capable of reading B&N e-books, Amazon e-books, and .pdf/.txt/.doc documents. Tablet PCs can offer the reading package side by side with Web-browsing, video and music playback, and video output to HDTVs/Monitors, or even use it as a full fledge PC when docked.

There will be no great Smartphone leaps in 2010 – Smartphones (iPhone/BlackBerry/Android/Windows Mobile devices) are in a bit of a rut. As telecom providers are rushing to roll out 4G/LTE (long term evolution) networks, there is not too much a cellular phone can do in the future that it cannot now. In my mind, the most limiting factor for mobile phones is bandwidth. Already they can be hacked to provide Wireless Access Points, use Google Voice, and be tethered to provide your computer w/ access. We already have Multi-Touch, OLED, 5MP, and other capabilities. Improved touchscreen interactions, standardizing tethering and VoIP will all be nice, but these are merely hacks, not innovations.

USB 3.0 will not revolutionize anything (at least in 2010) – USB 3.0 is a great improvement. Offering transmission speeds of up to 480Mbps, it is certainly faster than USB 3.0, but until it is actually adopted, it is a useless advancement. USB 3.0 can be a revolution for displays, hi-fi audio, external hard drives, and hardwired network transmissions. All of these require a high amount of bandwidth. There is talk of USB 3.0 becoming the standard for every digital connection – but until it is adopted it is merely just another “Betamax.” The most expensive motherboards commercially available now do not have USB 3.0 ports, and until they ship in every PC and every peripheral, USB 3.0 will not find acceptance and relevance.

Location information (and location based services) will be extremely important in 2010 – Cell tower triangulation, GPS, and RFID (not to mention credit card records) are creating an inordinate amount of information pertaining to people’s habits, their routes, and who is purchasing what, where. Recently it has come to light that Sprint has shared over 8 M records with authorities – the amount of digital information on every person is growing daily, and privacy vs law enforcement, military, and anti-terror issues will rise to the surface of public opinion, and quickly. Whether Sprint is right or wrong to release that information depends on whomever you ask – I’m sure the criminals in jail would disagree with it, yet I bet district attorneys and law enforcement officials enjoyed it (for more on the Sprint issue here).  Check out SenseNetworks here for info on a locational data market leader.

2010, open source will have an impact on the consumer – Sun Microsystems’ OpenOffice.org project is an incredibly powerful desktop tool. It has become part of the suite of apps that I personally install on every machine I use. Why would I spend $100+ on bloated software (I’m looking at you Office 2007) when Sun offers the same capabilities in a 300MB download? In my opinion, this software is fully functional, and I suggest it to anyone I know in need of a desktop publishing solution. In addition, Google’s Android OS, an open source mobile phone (and PMP) operating system is going to touch a large number of consumers, and be an OS of choice for many tech manufacturers. Open source Linux servers have been supporting consumers for years, but in 2010 I foresee OpenOffice.org and Android reaching out and touching the consumer (and them knowing it).

3D HDTV/3D in the house will not take off – Do you really want to wear glasses every time you decide watch TV or a new movie? I know I don’t, and I don’t think the majority of America does either. In my mind 3D has always been a gimmick – something for amusement park rides – not a really tenable technology. The advent of HD footage has gotten people used to clear, pristine images, 3D is neither of these. After recently watching Avatar in Digital 3D, after 2 hours and 40 minutes all I had was a headache, a desire for a refund, and no clue as to why anyone would film anything in 3D. In my mind, I don’t think this technology is ready for full scale adoption, I’ll probably avoid 3D until we have holographic projectors (maybe by the end of 2020!)

So what do you guys think of my predictions? Do you have any of your own? Please comment on mine, and leave your own!

Thanks!

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.

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