10 predictions for 2010

We see modest economic recovery, e-reader buzz, new faces in old places, lots of mobile news and more ...

No doubt, a leading IT story in 2010 will be the role that sector will play in the expected economic recovery, as well as how IT markets themselves recover. OK, so that's a no-brainer to predict, but we're latching on to some more specific details in that regard, and we've found a limb or three to walk out on as well. In no particular order we present the 2010 edition of our annual predictions.

We enter recovery

The global economy will limp into the first calendar quarter of next year, with IT playing an important role in the recovery, which will be modest in 2010. Although we don't expect much to happen until midyear as far as jobs creation and hiring, a whole lot of us are in need of new gear since purchases were deferred since late 2008, so hardware will lead the way in IT spending, with mobile telecommunications also important, particularly in developing countries.

IDC is forecasting 3.2 percent global IT spending growth, returning to 2008 levels of some US$1.5 trillion, with emerging markets driving more than half of the projected growth. That sounds about right.

The jobs market is also expect to recover.

Apple bites into e-readers

Apple's tablet/e-reader will be unveiled to great spectacle and fanfare in the first quarter of the year. Throngs will stand in line for long hours to be among the first to possess what we predict will be the device to which rivals aspire. Because it's from Apple, it will have a cool design and user-friendly interface, and cost a load of money.

In other Apple news, AT&T's contractual gridlock on the iPhone will be broken, with Verizon entering that lucrative market as Apple eschews future U.S. exclusivity deals, ahead of regulators imposing rules forbidding that sort of mobile telecommunications contract.

Paging Jerry Yang

Carol Bartz will be out as Yahoo's CEO by the end of 2010, as the company continues to struggle and tries to reinvent itself, renewing its focus on technology rather than marketing and branding schemes. (But if the company is still keen on marketing and branding, we would recommend ditching the !.)

Oracle finally gets Sun and other M&A news

The Oracle-Sun Microsystems deal will close. Mindful of not incurring excessive wrath from the open-source community, Oracle will not kill off MySQL. Instead, it will be inserted into a stack along with Oracle's Unbreakable Linux, pitted against Microsoft SQL Server.

In a related story, to compete with Oracle as it continues on its acquisition trail, SAP will make a major hardware-centric acquisition of a U.S. company that has been a bit down-on-its-heels of late.

In other acquisition news, someone will come along by year's end (Yahoo maybe?) and buy Aol once and for all, successfully merging its content and technologies and quietly dropping the once-mighty brand off the face of the Internet.

And 2010 will be the year Palm is acquired -- our bets are on Microsoft or Research In Motion.

Google gets taken down a notch

Google will finally stretch itself too far beyond its search engine roots, irritating content providers, regulatory agencies and users enough that Bing, even though it's also run by a monolith for whom love is not lost in many quarters, will keep making search inroads just because people want another option. The company that had as its mission to do no evil will increasingly be seen as devilish, leading top executives to spend more time than ever on image control, especially as it faces more lawsuits aimed at slowing its reach and power and its proclivity to challenge copyrights.

And so does Intel

The U.S. Department of Justice will file antitrust charges against Intel, with state attorneys general joining in while the U.S. Federal Trade Commission pursues its own action against the chip maker and the E.U. keeps up pressure there as well.

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Nancy Weil

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