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How 2010 trends will affect 2011 businesses
|21 декабря 2010|
It's the end of the year and the Internet is rife with top ten lists aplenty: year in review, predictions for 2011, lists of the top lists and more. They're unavoidable. Thus, differentiating oneself at year end is a burdensome task that can be overcome only with the utmost ingenuity. So, I respectfully offer my top three trends that started in 2010 and will carry over until 2011.
To make the task excruciatingly hard, I have decided to avoid postulating too much about the future of a certain fruit labeled company in Cupertino because lists of their future can be found under, above, and around every stone.
The mobile space has experienced growth, contraction, tumult, and dozens of other interesting sounding adjectives in 2010 but there are three particular trends that will have the greatest impact on 2011.
1. Facebook versus Google: The pending battle between Facebook and Google is great for consumers. In the past few days and weeks the two have become increasingly direct competitors. In one corner we have Google's HotPot and Gmail and in the other corner Facebook's Places and new messaging service (which I wouldn't dare refer to as e-mail). Consumers are benefitting mightily from this battle, getting new ad-supported services which continue to evolve and improve. Carriers on the other hand are getting the short end of the revenue stick. Messaging revenues (SMS, MMS) are at risk if subscribers come to rely more and more on social networking services for communication. Potential future advertising dollars are also at risk as new services such as location based social networking, navigation, and others emerge. Content owners on the other hand should be slightly heartened by the news that there are now ever more distribution points for their content and new ways to expose end- users to it. And hardware manufacturers are delighted by the prospect of an ever increasing need for new hardware to take advantage of all these new services. The battle will undoubtedly spill over into the acquisition space as Google and Facebook to invest in or acquire hot start-ups. The conversation about Apple versus Microsoft is long done and even the chatter about Apple versus Google will be a non-issue in 2011. The companies are wholly different beings with inherently different business models and their paths diverged long ago. So, 2011 will be all about who can outpace the other Google or Facebook.
2. Tablets will complicate the app landscape: If 2010 was the year of the tablet, then 2011 will certainly be the sequel. With a wave of new tablets expected early and often throughout the year consumers will have plenty of options. However, developers will be in a bind as to how best to divide their efforts and how best to charge for content. First, developers will have to decide on what platforms they want to support and then determine what devices on those platforms they want to support. Further complicating matters will be a third decision--which is--do I support all devices on an OS with one application or tailor different applications to different devices (i.e. tablets versus phones versus TVs)? Will not charging for separate applications for different devices differentiate an offering from others or force developers to leave money on the table by not creating separate independent apps for say Android handsets and Android tablets. It has already started on iOS as developers release iPhone and iPad apps but it's not a major trend yet only a handful of apps supporting both iPhone and iPad. This could be a complicating factor for Google as well. If various versions of its handset platform persist (or at least different flavors on differently priced devices) and different versions of its tablet software (or again at least different flavors on differently abled devices) it poses a potential development nightmare which ultimately prevents developers from building one applications that can assuredly support multiple devices. If a user has an Android tablet and an Android phone there is no assurance an application could work on both devices and this will be a long term thorn in Android's development as an ecosystem. On the other hand Apple will continue to hone its ecosystem message and if wise (which they are) begin to message the ecosystem to combat Google's ever growing mobile and TV presence.
3. Mobile becomes integral to media distribution: For a long period of time handsets were not seen as suitable devices for the consumption or enhancement of content. I would posit that digital copies of movies are infrequently downloaded to a portable device because the viewing experience is not ideal. However, this has already started to change. Just this week Microsoft announced enhanced movies for Windows Phone 7. Earlier in the year larger displays--greater than 4 inches--became a regular occurrence on smartphones and tablets ranging from 7 inches and up were adopted by millions of users worldwide. Amazon has partnered with many storefronts to provide content. This is the beginning of what will be a significant trend throughout 2011 and beyond. Not only will device be used to capture and create content but more users will begin to consume content on them. This will be aided by the phones that include pico projectors, enhanced screens, and an ever increasing number of services that will make finding affordable content easy. As content companies fear continued DVR usage impacting advertising revenue mobile presents an interesting opportunity to provide skip-free ad supported content to a wider audience. Additionally, since users keep their mobile devices with them at all times the device could be used to enhancing the viewing experience--such as offering synched up commentary, twitter feeds, etc. This could also be a new channel for advertising. Regardless of the formula it is clear that the handset will in fact become more integral to the content consumption for all users and will become more important in the marketing of content.
In summation, consumers will get increasing functionality out of their devices for free while carrier's struggle to find new business models. Apps will evolve but will be in a murky place for some time as developers work through the convoluted development landscape and business model issues associated with distribution to multiple devices. And finally, the handset will become more of a media consumption tool not only for viewing content but for enhancing the viewing experience of users.
a senior analyst for wireless media services
in the Global Wireless Practice of Strategy Analytics.