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January brings with it enough hype and hyperbole to confuse even the most hardened of technology trend watchers. With CES now behind us and a few weeks to hone our forecasting skills, here are the trends we believe are worth your attention and the ones that should be looked at with a skeptical eye.
Top 5 overhyped technology trends for 2011
- Google Chrome OS An innovative new OS for netbooks sounded great — in 2009. Consumers looking for netbooks are already shifting their attention to tablets, a trend which will intensify as Android tablets hit the market en masse later this year. Chrome OS will be among the biggest casualties of this shift, as businesses will ignore Chrome OS and consumers will be too busy playing Angry Birds on their iPad 2 to care.
- Internet TV. Landfills are littered with the remains of the many failures in this category. Google has already delivered an underwhelming vision for fusing the web and television — a bad omen for others looking for a breakout hit later this year. Until the cable companies can be removed from the equation (or they deliver some innovative set-top hardware of their own) nothing in this category will live up to the hype.
- The iPad as the savior of magazine publishers. While we should applaud (some) magazine publishers for reinventing their content to take advantage of all the iPad has to offer, it won’t be enough to save them. Emotion seems to be getting in the way of logic — if publishers weren’t able to make the model work with 240 million web users, how can they hope to make it work with an audience less than 5 percent of that size? Expect to see the valiant efforts from Sir Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch shuttered before CES 2012.
- Tablets will eliminate the market for single-purpose devices. Despite any magical power it may have, the iPad revolution won’t eliminate consumer demand for great single-purpose devices like the Kindle or Nintendo DS. Need some proof? Watch the launch of the Nintendo 3DS later this year. Nintendo will show that a single-purpose device can both survive and thrive if it has the game to back it up.
- PlayStation 3 Despite what looked like a potential comeback in mid-2010, the Kinect will finish off any chance of a lasting resurgence from Sony. Less fun than the Wii and less innovative than the Xbox/Kinect, PlayStation 3 is a tweener doomed to a third-place finish in this generation of consoles. Best advice for Sony: be first to market with the PS4.
Top 5 technology trends you actually should pay attention to in 2011:
- Windows Phone 7 will be a sleeper hit. Despite many dire predictions, Windows Phone 7 is a terrific mobile OS and it will grab market share in 2011. It will be supported over the long-term by Microsoft and evolve into a more diverse “light-OS” that will appear on a variety of touch-driven devices. It will steal market share from Blackberry in the enterprise and be the number three platform by end of 2011.
- iOS devices will have a huge year. The iPad 2 release and the iPhone on Verizon will help Apple increase their already dominant mindshare with marketers and developers. Later this year, look for Apple to merge additional elements of iOS with MacOS, creating an easy transition for iOS users to make the switch to Mac.
- Marketers will experiment with the “Internet of Things”. Last year marketers-on-the-edge began experimenting with augmented reality. This year, its equivalent will be the “Internet of Things”. We’ve already seen hints of this in everyday life, from ovens that alert customers when goodies are done, to bicycles that tweet. The trick for marketers will be to understand what is useful and what is just a gimmick.
- Facebook continues its unstoppable march towards dominance. Facebook will officially become the most popular site on the Web in early 2011. It will learn from earlier challenges and do a better job of working with advertisers and developers, becoming more predictable, stable, and easy to work with as the year progresses. As a result, brands will increase their adoption of the platform, centering their campaigns and advertising dollars around Facebook.
- Mobile market fragmentation will lead us back to the future. Brands, marketers, and developers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the concept of supporting a wide and ever-growing variety of mobile platforms, devices, and form-factors. With Apple iOS and Android dominant, Windows Phone 7 and HP’s WebOS ready to challenge, and Nokia and Blackberry poised to emerge from their slumber, fragmentation of the marketplace, financial sobriety and a return to rational thinking about the mobile space will lead us back to where we began — cross-platform, web-based apps.
Bill Predmore is founder and president of digital marketing agency Pop.
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