2010 Technology Summary

January 17, 2011 – 12:00 am

First, lets take a look back at my post from January 4, 2010: Trends, Predictions & Thoughts for 2010.

While I predicted a pretty aggressive growth trend for location-based services (Foursquare, Gowalla, etc), I think the adoption rate has followed my expectations. I was surprised that Facebook decided to build their own vs. acquire someone, but I’m sure they figured that since they have such a large user base that is growing so fast, they didn’t have to go down the acquisition path. While Foursquare has five million users, Facebook is approaching 600 million.

Not everyone is sold on location based services yet. According to
Who Uses Location-Based Services, only 4% of US online adults have ever used location-based social networks on their mobile phones, with only 1% using them more than once a week, according to Forrester. A typical location-based app user, it says, is:

  • Influential, with 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision.
  • Part of an interesting target group, as they are typically young adult males with college degrees.
  • A heavy mobile researcher, as they are also far more likely to search for information about businesses and products, as well as read customer ratings/reviews of products and services.

The biggest miss I had was branded virtual goods. Virtual goods have their places in games such as MyTown and Gaia Online but haven’t taken off on Facebook. Virtual goods are an important part of games like Farmville. Facebook currency could be big, but it’s still in the early stage. Based on my conversations with social gaming companies, the ability to offer credits for taking an action, such as viewing an advertisement and get five credits in return, could be a way for brands to provide incentives and reward engagement.

I would say that Apple pretty much dominated the consumer tech space in 2010. Much more than I had predicted. iPad, iPhone 4, Apple TV. Oh, and the millions of iPods sold every year, but that doesn’t get much press anymore. Yes, I understand that companies like Dell sell millions of computers every year, but you don’t see people waiting in line to pick up the latest release.

As of today, Apple stock is currently trading at 340. Not bad since it started 2010 at $210/share.

The iPad came out in April. While it doesn’t have Adobe Flash support, that definitely hasn’t slowed it down. The iPad helped move Apple into the middle ground from a pricing standpoint between iPods, which it seems every household owns at least one these days, towards a higher priced laptop computer. While the iPad doesn’t have the full features of a laptop computer, it covers the majority of where consumers are spending their time: email, Facebook & media consumption. While not all content is available on the iPad, Netflix, Hulu & most major sites are moving towards better support with HTML 5. 15.7 million tablets sold worldwide in 2010, and the iPad represents roughly 85% of that and tablet sales are expected to quadruple by 2012. YouTube had more than 700 billion video views in 2010 and part of the success has been their multiple device and format support.

Amazon’s Kindle will surpass 8 million units in 2010 and at $140, that’s a pretty hefty chunk of revenue for Amazon, not to mention book & content sales. Amazon has launched new features that enable their content to be read on multiple devices, including the iPad, mobile phones and online, so that will be a big boom to their content distribution model.

PC World published a list of their best tech products from 2010, which had the iPad listed as runner up.

ZDNet listed the iPad as the top technology surprises of 2010.

And, just like everyone else, VentureBeat listed the iPad as one of the biggest stories of 2010.

The latest generation of the iPhone was met with much anticipation and was in the hands of consumers in June. Descriptions of the phone were leaked after one was found “lost” in a bar in California.

While there was controversy around the device, including some reception problems, after using an iPhone 4 since they launched, I can say the device definitely brings the power of a computer into your hands. HTC EVO 4G & Samsung Epic 4G were launched by Sprint and powered Android. Verizon and other carries launched powerful Android phones like DROID from Motorola and Verizon is launching with the iPhone in Q1 2011.

According to Wikipedia, as of October 2010, there are at least 300,000 third-party applications officially available on the App Store, with over 7 billion total downloads.

On October 25, 2010 the official AndroidDev twitter account announced that the Android market had surpassed the 100,000 app milestone and as of late December 2010, over 200,000. You can check out the latest Android stats at Wikipedia & AndroLib. Several reports have been published that show Android & Apple as pretty much even at the end of 2010.

There are application stores for Nokia, BlackBerry & Windows devices, but none of them are as popular as Android market & the Apple App store.

HP bought Palm in April, as they try to gain some ground in the mobile connected space, including smartphones and tablets. I’m not sure how that is going to net out, since the Palm share of the market is so small.

Ping, a music-focused social network created by Apple topped the list of bad ideas from NPR Music.

Based on the install base of iTunes, I’m sure the usage will grow over time, but I wasn’t wowed by it and I haven’t used it either.

The one exception I see to Apple’s dominance of consumer technology was been the successful launch of Microsoft Kinect, with 8 million sold in the first few months of the release.

Angry Birds, which was created by a small Finnish company, has taken the mobile gaming world by storm, racking up 200 million minutes of game play each day.

New York Times:Although Rovio has released two dozen other mobile games, none have come close to the success of Angry Birds, which cost about $100,000 to make and has been downloaded 50 million times in the last year. The paid version for the iPhone, which costs 99 cents in the United States, has brought in more than $8 million in revenue; Apple said last week that it was the best-selling iPhone app of 2010. The free version for phones running Google’s Android software should produce $1 million a month in advertising revenue by the end of the year, Rovio says.

Data makes the world go round. And those in control of the data are in the position of both power and responsibility. Gawker Media was one of the sites that got hacked.

The email addresses and passwords of hundreds of thousands of users were compromised. Some of the basic passwords were decrypted and I’m sure eventually the whole file will be decrypted to expose all 1+ million user accounts.

With a large user base, Facebook is a huge target for attacks. And as more sites allow authentication via Facebook and Twitter and sharing content back out to social networks, they will continue to be targets.

One of the challenges with many of the startups is that for the ones that are successful, the growth curve can be difficult to support and sometimes the focus is shifted to reliability and scalability vs. security. Twitter was unavailable so much when they were getting off the ground that it got to be expected and accepted.

Between WikiLeaks, hacked celebrity accounts and the rise of an online Do Not Track list, online privacy and security will hopefully get more attention in the next two years than they have in the past. The amount of data available at the individual level is staggering – social data, purchase data, demo data, etc can all be connected. Semantic targeting has been discussed as one way to get around some of the privacy concerns, but it’s not ready for prime time yet, so in the short term we’ll see a growth in branded incentives for viewing branded content. The government will step in and try and get more involved, but it will be several years before anything gets passed or standards are created.

Applications, like Firesheep, a Firefox extension that makes it relatively easy to hack into social sites if consumers aren’t careful when using open WiFi hotsposts, were big news and then gone. I thought it would shake people up, but it seems everyone has just been ignoring how easy it is. It’s almost like people expect their accounts to get hacked at some point.

Net Neutrality has been in the press and will continue, but the FCC doesn’t have the regulatory control to really push it through and enforce and the regulations are going to be challenged in court and by Congress, so I don’t plan on seeing it for a while. And, since wireless is left out and is the biggest area for growth, I’m not sure how big of an impact it’s going to have, as everyone involved is going to find ways around the regulations.

I enjoyed The Social Network movie and with multiple awards and nominations, including 6 Golden Globe nominations, I’m sure we’ll see movies around other high-growth companies. Twitter? Google? Who will be next…

That’s a lengthy list of topics, but if nothing else, I’ll look back 10 years from now and laugh at how antiquated everything on this last has become.

  1. One Response to “2010 Technology Summary”

  2. Good Article!!!I Can Foursquare really beat Facebook places? I see some sites like http://WorkplaceTalk.com people can use to share office gossip anonymously that are already built on top of facebook places. The advantage facebook has compared to other sites is Huge Huge user base.. Time will only tell who wins!!!

    By Arpitha on Jan 17, 2011

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