With the year coming to a close, we've certainly seen one of the most exhilarating years from a technology perspective for a long time.
Whether it the flood of Apple iPad's that made their way to the UAE or the Blackberry fiasco that ensued in the late summer, there has certainly been a lot to captivate our interest in 2010. As we look forward to 2011, the question arises, what do we expect the crystal ball to show us?
After much thought, we at Jacky's decided to take our stab at listing out a few trends we expect to take shape in 2011:
1. The introduction of Skype (officially)
This is a bold prediction but surely long overdue. Skype is being used in the UAE whether endorsed officially or not but with Skype now being available on the iPhone (and no doubt rolling out onto other smartphone OS platforms in the future), we expect to see more people using it. The TRA has said that VoIP can start provided one of the local service providers introduces it and we hope to see one of them tie up with Skype in 2011. This would not only mean lower calling costs but also more ways to keep in touch and the introduction of more video-conferencing in corporate and consumer environments.
2. Tablet Wars
Had we used this term in 2009, it may have sounded like we're talking about a pharmaceutical industry battle but today it comes down to seeing what sort of tablet PC's we see coming in 2011 from the likes of Acer, Dell, Blackberry, HP, Samsung, LG and Sony. What screen size will dominate? How many cameras will it have? What OS will be better? With all the questions around, the bigger question is how will these new tablets compete with what Apple does with their next generation iPad? It could come down to being Apple vs. the rest.
3. Dual-Core smartphones
Just like we've seen in mainstream laptop technology, we could see dual-core processor smartphones in 2011. While there is no doubt there will be much more powerful stuff our smartphones will be doing, the question remains, will battery technology keep up with this as this seems to be the limiting factor thus far.
4. The Introduction of Google's Android Market
Again, this has been a luxury of the world seems to have had except the UAE and Saudi Arabia. For some strange reason, Google has decided to block Market here and this meant that you don't enjoy the true Android experience here officially. A smartphone these days is only as good as the Apps you find on it and hopefully we see the Google App store makes it way soon to an Android smartphone near us.
5. Smartphone OS Wars
This will be a continuation we've seen in 2010 which has largely been in our region an Apple vs. Blackberry battle with a spattering of Android phones. However, in 2011, we'll see probably a more concerted threat from the Android camp with the launch of the Android 3.0 OS (codenamed "Gingerbread") plus we should see more movement from the Microsoft camp with Windows Phone 7 and HP / Palm's WebOS platforms. It'll be interesting to see how RIM continues with the Blackberry OS and what role QNX plays (QNX is an OS manufacturer that RIM acquired in 2010 which has been largely integral to providing the OS software to the automobile industry and who RIM seems to be relying on for their PlayBook tablets). Windows Phone 7 could be the dark horse of 2011 as it seems to have picked up on the positive points of Android and Apple iOS but looks set to avoid the negative points of both platforms. With many feeling Apple has been somewhat dictatorial of late, Microsoft is starting to again like the blue-eyed boy of the industry and with Android struggling to maintain standards in terms of processor specs, screen sizes, etc., Microsoft has been working much more closely with handset manufacturers to maintain a certain set of standards that could work to their advantage. Microsoft also having a strong presence in the UAE may help them as neither Google or Apple have had a full-fledged setup till now (though both promise to start soon enough).
6. e-Print / Wireless Printing
HP has been championing the e-Print technology wherein you can print from your tablet or smartphone directly onto your printer by sending a file as an e-mail to your printer. At the same time, various wireless printing solutions have also started emerging in 2010 and we expect many of these to go mainstream in 2011. HP have already said e-Print is an integral part of the strategy for next year and we can expect to see it in virtually most of their new product introductions. The paperless office may be a fallacy if these technologies continue to thrive.
7. Wireless Audio / Video Streaming
Apple showed us a hint of this with their AirPlay technology and brands like Acer have also been working on something similar. How we end up watching and listening to our digital media is surely changing and as content distribution models evolve, we expect to see more wireless audio and video streaming technologies to start coming as standard features in many of our traditional home consumer electronics products from brands like Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic.
8. More Casual Gaming
With Microsoft launching Kinect in 2010, we've seen the future of gaming for sure. Now put this in 3D and we could be seeing the future. However, the bigger market at the moment seems to be the advent of casual gaming. Chances are most of the busy executives you see carrying an iPhone or an iPad these days, have a lot of games on their devices as well which they play when sitting on a plane or while waiting around. Would these people have been the type you would've expected to see playing games a few years ago? Probably not but with games like Angry Birds (which is primarily available on the iPhone and iPad) crossing the 50,000,000 user-mark in 2010, we can expect to see more hardcore game developers jumping onto the casual gaming bandwagon in 2011, especially with so many other smartphone and tablet OS options also gaining popularity.
In addition to this, we do expect to see many other categories to prosper in 2011. Whether it be the LCD television segment (more LED and 3D technologies), the introduction of more hybrid netbooks (netbooks with touch-screens so they also start imitating a tablet somewhat), the launch of Google's Chrome OS for tablet's and netbook computers and more within the space of content distribution.
Whatever it is, 2011 is surely expected to keep us busy.
Posted by: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics LLC