[Bernard Moon works for the Lunsford Group.]
When I made my tech trend predictions for 2009, we were in the middle of an economic meltdown. This year, I’m less focused on the recession and — thanks to my one-year old twin girls — am wading my way through a flood of information on baby products, toys and books. My mind has wandered between thoughts of Bugaboos and Ooyalas, Leapfrog and Playfish, or Seuss and Seesmic. Still, here are my tech trends for 2010.
Online Shopping Clubs Will Mature
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Online shopping clubs aren’t anything new, but these post-bubble incarnations are. Leaders in this segment tend to hold “flash” sales (limited-time sales) and restrict sales to members only. Luxury goods lead this space with France’s Vente-Privee hitting $966 million in revenues this year and U.S’s Gilt Groupe earning almost $150 million in revenues in 2009. By 2010, within four years since launching in the U.S., the companies in this space will have achieved over $2 billion in worldwide sales. Talk about hockey stick growth!
This same model has transferred to other categories, with many luxury players launching travel offerings under their banners. There are also more narrowly focused sites launching, such as Totsy for moms and One Kings Lane for home décor. Woot in the U.S. and One A Day in Korea are flash sale sites that sell only one item everyday. One A Day hit $13 million this year and projects $28 million in sales for 2010 under this simplified model.
Much of this tremendous growth has been driven by the steep discounts all these sites have provided through access to excess inventory. There are concerns this category might see some trouble once the economy picks up and retailers begin rightsizing their inventory. But I believe it is here to stay because — similar to how Zynga and Playfish brought lazy interactivity to the online casual gaming space — these new e-tailers are pushing products and brand relationships to the lazy shopper. It won’t be just about discounted goods, since players like Gilt are already pushing exclusive, in-season goods. So I predict that 2010 will be a breakout year for this ecommerce category and it will move far beyond discounted luxury goods.
Gaming Will Advance Beyond PCs and Consoles
2009 was a great year for online gaming, with Zynga, Playfish, and others leading the charge and showing the power of Facebook and the social networking ecosystem’s distribution power. The next stage of online gaming will be led by more powerful gaming platforms and engines for mobile and the browser.
Epic’s recent showing of the Unreal Engine 3 on the iPhone opens a whole new world for mobile gaming. The possible game titles with such engines on mobile platforms just increased at least fivefold. Imagine billion-dollar franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Rock Band and Guitar Hero on mobile devices. I believe this would not cannibalize game makers’ PC and console sales and gameplay time but would expand their consumer base and increase people’s playing time.
For browser-based games, existing engines, such as Unity, and new entrants in flash-based platforms and other browser engines will expand the leading online gaming genre of “lazy interactive” casual games (such as Farmville and Mobsters) to more robust casual games (Risk, Battle Tetris) and eventually hardcore games (such as MMO role-playing games and first-person shooters). This will allow more advanced gaming environments to move away from the traditional client-server architecture. I predict there will be some breakout titles by year end in mobile and browser based games to initiate a changing tide in the video game industry.
Real-Time Collaboration Coming to an Office Near You
I already covered this trend a couple of months ago on Mashable, but I really do believe 2010 will be a solid year of progress for real-time collaboration. SAP’s Gravity, a prototype of real-time collaborative business process modeling within Google Wave, is a good example of what’s coming ahead.
2010 Will Be Android’s Year
In the mobile space, 2010 will be a breakout year for Google’s Android platform (disclaimer: my wife works at Google but not on Android). Motorola’s Droid and glimpses of Google’s own Nexus One were just tasty appetizers this year. Next year there will be more than 50 Android phones shipping out to a market near you. Think about what this means. Android is spreading like the Borg from Star Trek.
Next year, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, HTC, Huawei, and others will be spreading the concept of apps, touch screens, and smarter phones to an audience beyond the techno-elite and hipster gadget lovers. Slowly Google’s open platform strategy might win out versus Apple’s closed approach.
2010 Will Have A Netscape Moment
I was initially going to call this prediction the “Kozmo Moment” after the DVD and small goods online delivery service that raised $250 million in 1999 and then spectacularly shut down in 2001 after a failed IPO, but there really are no capex heavy startups today minus the cleantech industry. I mean Twitter doesn’t need to buy 500 cars and vans to deliver potato chips and Q-tips to suburban homes in Portland or San Diego.
I do predict at least one of the hot startups that have an incredibly high valuation and a ton of capital will not live up to the hype. It might even go public, but soon afterwards go down a similar path that Netscape did and fade into the background due to competition from a tech giant or rapidly changing tides of the market. None will shut down in 2010 since they have so much cash, but chinks in the armor will be revealed during the year. Who will it be? Twitter? Slide? Zynga? Ning?
What are some of your predictions or trends for 2010? Be sure to share them in the comments section.
Bernard Moon is Managing Director of the Lunsford Group, which is a private holding company consisting of entities in technology, media, research & consulting, health care, and real estate. He blogs at Silicon Moon.