2011 Tech Predictions

Last year was a great year for tech. We got the iPad, a slew of new Android phones, Microsoft Kinect, and the first-ever availability of 3D technology to the general public. But soon all of that will be forgotten as new devices and technologies find their way into our hands. The fun part of that for technophiles is predicting the ones that will make it and the ones that won’t. Here is my list of the top tech predictions for 2011.

All phones become “smart.” Smart phones will become more commonplace than the so-called “dumb phones.” As adoption rates of the Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and other smart handsets increase, the flip phone will become a tech relic. I think 2011 is the year for this because, as competition increases between manufactures and service providers, prices will drop and saying “yes” to a smarter phone will be a no-brainer for consumers. Additionally, the announcement of a Verizon-capable iPhone will bring on many new converts.

The death of the DVD Its time has come. The digital video disc (DVD) brought wholesome family dramas, dorky comedies and action-packed thrillers to our living rooms for over a decade now and its passing is imminent. I wrote last year about the widespread closings of video rental stores due to mail-order service Netflix, and streaming services like Hulu, and iTunes. In 2011, we’ll start to see the effects of those closings as an even larger shift is made to streaming services, and away from physical media-including Blu-ray technology.

Tablets become mainstream. It was only last year that Microsoft, Apple, and others finally decided that tablets could be mainstream media devices. Apple, as it often does, brought the first moderately successful device to market but many consumers are still trying to figure out why they need another device. In the meantime, hundreds of other devices have appeared, each attempting to entice users that tablet computing is the way of the future. In 2011, device manufactures will finally figure out how to market this touchable tech, and consumers won’t be able to resist buying them.

Facebook finally becomes the big kid on the block. It’s no secret Facebook owns social networking on the Web, and just last month they overtook Google as the world’s most visited website. While page views don’t mean much, the kind of content of the Web site does. In the next year, Facebook will take steps to solidify their dominance on the Web in areas other than social networking. With over 500 million users worldwide, Facebook has the opportunity to make a massive splash in any new areas of the Web they want – something that could bring the future of previously dominant companies like Microsoft and Google into question.

Mobile Internet is the most important. As demand for mobile computing devices like smart phones and tablets grows, an infrastructure of fast mobile Internet will become essential. While traditional Internet connections, such as the ones we use at homes and in school, are developed, mobile connections sent out by cell towers are not. Especially in rural parts of the country, fast mobile broadband is slow and not even existent in many places.
Service providers like Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint must expand their networks massively in order to meet demand from their customers who purchase their Web-hungry devices. In 2011, we’ll see major strides in coverage across the country, and massive speed increases, which will eventually rival wired connections.

While tech spending in 2010 fell slightly, mostly due to the bad economy, I think this year will bring enough enticing advances that growth is inevitable. Perhaps if we’re lucky, there may be gadget that brings fundamental changes to our daily interaction with technology. But that’s not a change anybody can predict.

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