Predicting the Future of Telecom, Media and Technology

By: Lee Rickwood

January 22, 2010

You’d think there’d be a new high tech gadget just for this.

Like, maybe a new type of screen — portable or otherwise — on which the future is now showing.  Could be in three dimensions, could be a giant smartphone of some sort. Maybe the future is in the clouds.

But, while waiting for the future emerge, there are lots of tech predictions from industry analysts, tech-speculators and gadget guys and gals like you.

And, of course, here at WhatsYourTech.ca.

We’re going to pick up on conversations started by folks like Duncan Stewart, who works at the professional consulting firm Deloitte. He and his team are on a cross-Canada tour right now, talking up their 2010 Canadian TMT Predictions.

Short for technology, media and telecom, TMT includes but is not limited to ICT, or information and communications technology.

(We are predicting more acronyms in 2010, by the way.)

Stewart has his ten top predictions, and he’s inviting comments and contributions from the community at large – using some of the tech trends that have been predicted in the past. Like social media blogs and online video streams. We are answering that call with this blog post, and we encourage you to keep the conversation going, as well.

 Briefly, here’s the Top Ten for 2010.

 #1 – eBooks Fly, eReaders Maybe Not. More than 100 million eBook units will be sold in 2010, the prediction says, despite slow take up in actual eReaders, and despite prediction #2. None of the readers really impresses me, so this all sounds reasonable, but I am also predicting eMagazines and eNewspapers will take off.

 #2 – Net Tablets Arrive. Bigger than a smartphone, smaller than a netbook, the prediction here is that the Net tablet market will grow from, well, zero now to over a billion by the end of the year.  This prediction is just in time, and I agree that whatever it’s called, and who ever masters the concept, this product will be a reader killer…a netbook killer…and it shouldn’t make TVs feel very good, either.

 #3 – Micropayments and Pay Walls. A topic dear to my own heart (no, there are not plans to charge for WhatsYourTech content – not at this time!!!)  But they sure are at the New York Times, and other well-known brands that are counting on people being willing to pay for high quality content. You all agree, right?!? Please!!!!

 #4 – CleanTech Rises, Not Solar. The green industry will grow, and clean technology will be widely used in government, business and the consumer marketplace. Solar has problems, which may not be overcome. Wind will grow, and we have the proof – Samsung and the Ontario government’s recent announcement, for example.

 #5 – Heads Up on IT Procurement. The IT gatekeepers will have to loosen their grip on the ‘who, what and why’ of tech usage. Different computers, different operating systems, different smart or other enabled devices will have to be supported by the corporation and its controlling priesthood. They once told me I couldn’t edit video on a Mac (being a PC shop), so I fully support this view of the future.

 #6 – Nixing the Nineties. No, this is not about Mayan calendars or global disasters. Stewart is talking about the need for 99.999 per cent uptime – and the fact it is no longer needed. There are always alternatives, and so the cost of guaranteeing ’99.9 % uptime’ may not be worth it anymore. Hmmm…..I’m not sure if I am ready to cancel my back up ISP services just yet.

 #7 – Cloud Computing. Yes, this topic has been on the future list for a couple of years now. There have been some consumer inroads – Gmail, Facebook, etc. – but I think some people and many corporations are still nervous about this idea. Rightly so. And whatever you do, don’t try combining Prediction #7 – cloud computing – with #6 – lower expectations. Dangerous future, that.

 #8 – Pay for What You Eat. Carriers are going to change their pricing patterns, Stewart says. In the U.S., they are. And even though Canadians may be hungry for all we can eat wireless, trends show that it is not a long-term business model. See Prediction #2, and try to get the carriers to accommodate even more data consumption at one low fixed price. Ain’t gonna happen.

 #9 – Widening the Bottleneck. At the same time as data charges go up, ironically and somewhat counter-intuitively, there will be bigger data pipes as well. New tech solutions will enable greater throughput for data delivery, be it wired or wireless, the predictions say. I recently wrote a story called ‘Like Water for Bandwidth’, and while some scoffed at the idea of huge data pipe advances, Number Nine certainly gets my nod of approval.

 #10 – Advertising Shifts to Online. So-called addressable or targeted advertising will bring greater relevancy, accuracy and results, Stewart predicts. The total pie – how many ad dollars there are for all media – may not grow at all. In fact Stewart anticipates it will shrink, but the ad dollars spent online will grow, as a part thereof, and they will be more effective as a result. For myself, the new broccoli ads are just fine, thanks. I could do without all the others.

 So, how does the future look to you? Murderous? Uncertain? Too bright? Just right?

Let me know your predictions….and your reactions to the predictions that others have made.


2 comments

  1. teddyk@sympatico.ca'

    Interesting predictions all around for sure. Micropayments are coming soon, given that credit card companies, banks and wireless carriers are already working to implement this, but it’s still in a pilot stage right now. Imagine just waving your cell phone at a terminal to buy a coffee at Tim Hortons or even to get a drink at a vending machine. Initially, this may have to be done with credit card accounts, but we’re naturally not as keen on using credit as our American friends are, so a debit option will have to come into play as well. Just my two cents.

    I see netbooks and e-Readers dying slowly, but surely, this year as well. A $99 e-Reader will still make sense for the consumer who just wants to read books, but some of the models unveiled at CES are still too expensive when compared to what tablets and slates will offer. Netbooks were a niche product to begin with, but picked up steam in the midst of a recession with their low prices. Manufacturers simply rode the wave. I find it hard to believe that they would be willing to stay in that category for long, given the razor-thin margins. And let’s not forget that they couldn’t really compete with each other on specs, either. They were all running on the same Atom processor, same screen sizes, same RAM, etc.

    This year will be about slates, smartphones and sub-$1,000 ultraportable/thin-and-light notebooks providing the final nail in the coffin for netbooks (and possibly e-Readers as well).

  2. gadjo@mac.com'
    Gadjo Sevilla

    Great roundup of very insightful predictions! A few thoughts came to mind after reading this engaging piece.

    #1 eBooks are definitely taking off, I just hope that eTextbooks follow suit and are adapted quickly. As any impoverished student will tell you, those heavy and mildly revised textbooks are some of the most expensive items they spend for. Revolutionizing textbooks into electronic documents where updates are sent wirelessly or by subscription is an awesome idea. Imagine fewer dead trees, less inventory shipping and storage and for the students a much lighter load to carry.

    #2 For micropayments we need more competition. PayPal is the big innovator in this space globally right now but it would be nice if banks could get in and develop quick and secure micropayment platforms via SMS or smartphones. The tech is there, implementation is the challenge.

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