It is impossible to resist the temptation to share predictions for the coming year despite the potential for embarrassment twelve months from now. So, here they are:
Random Predictions for 2010:
Mobile payments will be "the killer app" for 2010. It should be an absolutely crazy year for mobile payment systems worldwide with thousands of players vying for a piece of the process all over the globe. By the end of the year, a majority of smart phone subscribers will have downloaded a mobile payment application of some type. A vast majority of those users will be confused and frustrated until 2011 when winning apps emerge and begin to create de facto transaction standards that people can understand. There should be a lot of consolidation in this space in international markets.
Social media will become "officially" boring: Even as social media networks like Facebook and MySpace (and the thousands of imitators) find ways to better monetize their vast networks, users will tire of wasting their time and giving up their privacy. The result: more dormant accounts, less activity, less engagement, and less revenue per user. There will be exceptions to "boring" with LinkedIn becoming more valuable as a corporate social media platform as more people go back to work.
Google will be a major story in mobile during 2010: Google will scare the pants off Apple, RIM, and Nokia. Window Mobile could be the most at risk. Android users will begin to see the power of Google's vast data resources delivered via the cloud - which is its main differentiator versus other mobile platforms. Here are some data.
As a result, Microsoft may take a run at RIM during 2010: Because Microsoft's mobile market share continues to be eviscerated, the persistent rumor that Microsoft could take a run at RIM is more likely to come true during 2010. RIM's significant corporate presence fits with Microsoft's core competencies. The big question is whether RIM is interested in what Microsoft has to offer.
Mobile infrastructure spending will accelerate throughout 2010: As more mobile applications are downloaded, investment in supporting data infrastructure should continue to grow. Carriers, especially in developing economies, will continue to struggle to expand bandwidth, manage traffic and improve billing. Sir Terry Matthews will have a gleeful 2010.
WiMAX ecosystem will maintain growth momentum in 2010: The 802.16e protocol will continue to gain momentum as carriers in developing economies aim to grow capacity quickly and inexpensively. U.S. broadband infrastructure spending will spur growth in mid-mile and last-mile deployments. High-flyers in the WiMAX equipment manufacturing sector should continue to benefit during 2010.
Vertical search will finally take off in 2010: local search enabled by GPS on mobile devices will capture the imagination of consumers during 2010. As well, people search should emerge as a significant area of development enabled by meta profiling of social network users. Watch for acquisitions as search leaders pick off point solutions.
More data-oriented solutions for health care: Unlocked by infrastructure spending and government incentives, EMR-based health services should begin to finally gain momentum during 2010. Watch for sector consolidation.
In 2010 3D is the new "color": "Avatar" is to 3D what "The Wizard of Oz" was to color. Expect a torrent of 3D films in 2010. The next step in the evolution of the movie experience will be "immersive", combining 3D with seat motion. Groundwork will be laid for 3D movies and games into the home. Could designer 3D glasses become a new fashion category?
eBooks will be hot for Christmas 2010: 3G connected eBooks with price points below $400 will emerge as a hot consumer item.
Apple's hotly anticipated new tablet device will not be so hot: Apple's magic run of iPod, iPhone, iTouch may be temporarily derailed by the introduction of the tablet if it is priced above $1000.00 for consumers. Apple's great design at affordable consumer price points was at the essence of Apple's amazing decade.
World economic recovery will be slowed by persistent high energy costs: Even as manufacturing begins to recover, commodity speculation in H1 2010 and persistent high costs of energy should dampen growth, possibly causing a decline in some markets during H2. Overall, after a bouyant H1, the year could end up flat to "up" slightly.
There it is, a fun look at the new year. Some of these are continuations of trends during 2009, and others may be self-evident. Although the general economic outlook may be flat, the technology sector led again by the mobile ecosystem should continue to perform ahead of the general economy. However, the tech sector is unlikely to demonstrate the returns of 2009.
Disclosure: I do not own any of the shares mentioned in this post.