2010 tech forecasts: What the accurate analysts predict

New-year predictions are often iffy, but these firms were pretty accurate in their 2009 calls. Will they be right again?

And for 2010 IDC has taken that prediction a bit further, saying, "Business applications will undergo a fundamental transformation -- fusing business applications with social/collaboration software and analytics into a new generation of 'socialytic' apps, challenging current market leaders." Indeed, we at InfoWorld identified that trend as one of the top underreported tech stories of 2009, calling out the transformation of the familiar wiki to a platform for enterprise mashups.

Here comes the iTablet No surprise here -- there have been more rumors about Apple's likely entry into the tablet market than the names of Tiger Woods' mistresses. Despite the hoo-ha, Apple may be setting itself up for a flop. Or as InfoWorld's resident skeptic Randall C. Kennedy puts it: Tablets are "underpowered, only marginally portable, and awkward to use in anything but a traditional seated position, with a desk to support them. ... To believe that Apple can somehow succeed where all others have failed is to ignore some fundamental realities of tablet computing."

IDC, though, implies that Apple has learned from the mistakes of others and will introduce a tablet that is more like an upsized iPod Touch than a Mac, with a swivel-head screen. Smartphone users, IDC predicts, "would jump at the chance to have a larger screen -- watching videos/movies, reading books/magazines/newspapers (it would take a big bite from the Kindle), surfing the Web, videophone, and online gaming. Look for Apple's 'iPad' by year-end 2010. Oh, and don't be surprised to see Microsoft also announce its own device in this space."

App stores to be in the red, Android apps to skyrocket Not all of the worthwhile predictions came from the major analyst firms. A boutique, wireless-focused shop called CCS Insight had some interesting thoughts on 2010:

  • Most application stores will not be profitable during 2010. Like store owners, developers will be frustrated by the gap between the promise of easy income and the reality of needing careful marketing to make consumers aware of applications.
  • At least two major European operators will stop subsidizing phones in 2010. They will switch to a SIM-only strategy and offer nothing but SIM-only contracts to new customers and to people renewing or upgrading contracts. (SIM cards, the norm in most of the world, can be moved among phones, carying your account with them.)

The SIM-only theory is interesting. There's already a possibility that Google will itself sell the Android Nexus smartphone instead of using the usual business model, which entails hardware sold and subsidized by carriers. If some European carriers adopt a SIM-only model, it could be an interesting lab experiment that will be closely watched by Google.

IDC, meanwhile, had an interesting take on the future of Android apps: "There are now about 10,000 applications for Android; we predict there will be a strong ramp (albeit slower than the iPhone app ramp) for Android -- look for 50,000 to 75,000 applications by the end of 2010. The reason? The advantage of Android -- that it's more 'open' than the iPhone platform -- creates more compatibility challenges for developers across the different device manufacturers' hardware."

We'll know pretty quickly if IDC's call on Android apps is on track. But it will take another spin around the sun to test other, broader technology predictions. Stay tuned.

This article, "2010 tech forecasts: What the accurate analysts predict," was originally published at InfoWorld.com.

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Bill Snyder

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