Video has been a bit of an ‘always the bridesmaid never the bride’ in the tech world, reliable but not exactly sparkling. However, with new technologies constantly being developed for the web, social software, unified communications and iTV, we will see video break free of previous limitations and finally have its day in the sun. Over the next three years, video will become a major content delivery medium. By 2013, analysts predict that 25% of all online content viewed in a day will be delivered by video. New generations of online natives, who consume information primarily through video, will supplant the text natives who have dominated the online space since 1993.
(12) The browser wars are back!
The browser wars of the 1990s between Microsoft and Netscape now seem very old-school, but a resurgence of that violent competition between competing browsers is most definitely here. Despite Microsoft’s dominance, hackers keep finding holes in IE, which leads consumers to try new solutions. The market is heading towards browsers with integrated social capabilities and ones that are completely user-customisable; expect to see many more developments in this area during the next year. Netscape founders are launching Rockmelt, a social media browser that is sure to set the standard – how it plays out on mobile is an interesting question.
(13) Consumers will hunt out green gadgets
As we become more concerned about the environment, and the technology needed for eco-friendly products become more available, the hunger for energy efficient and green solutions will increase tenfold – already we have seen eco-friendly wooden casings for iPods and mobiles.
Consumers are demanding these and it’s a sure bet that we’ll see more such products in the coming year. If you can launch a solar-powered, bio-degradable tablet made out of sustainable materials you’re on to a sure-fire winner. In fact, that might just be my next career move…
I agree with Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, that email is about to become yesterday’s technology. Speaking at Neilson Consumer 360, Sandberg said, “In consumer technology, if you want to know what people like us will do tomorrow, you look at what teenagers are doing today – and the latest figures say that only 11% of teenagers email daily. So email – I can’t imagine life without it – is probably going away”.
Sandberg added that the majority of teens now communicate via social networks and SMS rather than email. 2011 will therefore start to see the slow decline of email as the main digital communication tool. Facebook’s ‘social inbox’ that integrates chat, texts and email into the user’s inbox is just the start.
(15) Social media will return to its ‘small is beautiful’ roots
With the explosion of social networking over the past few years having created an extremely well-connected world, 2011 is going to be all about smaller, niche social networking. With stories about privacy infringements and security hiccups in the news every other day, next year will see people creating smaller, more manageable social groups to interact in. People will create tighter, probably topic-based, groups to engage with trusted friends and contacts, expanding the potential of the “social graph” to impressive new levels.
That’s not to say that Facebook et al will in any way be threatened by this – these niche networks will sit alongside your wider social graph. Facebook has even shown that it is keen to facilitate, with the recent reinstatement of their ‘Groups’ functionality in new form. But smaller groups will see the social networking experience taking a turn back towards its original purpose – after all, Facebook started out as a niche network for Harvard students.
There are already some great examples of more ‘niche’ communities. Path is a cool new iPhone app that allows you and a small (50 max) group of switched-on friends to display your social and geo-located movements in a very nice graphical format (have a look at their website: http://path.com/); There are dozens of other great community-led social sites too, some of which are bound to experience a resurgence as a result of this shift – two of my favourites are Cork’d (a wine community) and Fork’d (a food community).
(16) Apple will launch iSearch – their ‘Google-killer’
It’s been talked about for years, but the battle between Apple and Google has now reached an unprecedented intensity. I expect to see an Apple search engine launched in 2011 to shake up the search market, (possibly iPhone-only) to challenge Google’s dominance in a way Bing has been simply unable to do. Let the fun begin.
(17) Content marketing will grab more budget share
Content is the glue that connects SEO and social media. Content is increasingly the product of social interactions, rather than just a published list of product/service features and benefits that entices customers to buy something. Content (both user-generated and brand-generated) can be shared and linked to, increasing its visibility within search.
According to the Junta42 Content Marketing Spending Report, 59% of marketers surveyed planned to increase content marketing spend at the beginning of 2010. I predict this number will leap again in 2011.
In the month when we discovered that use of social media does not, in fact, make one less sociable in ‘real’ life, it’s a good time to be seeing more and more evidence that digital and the real world are joining up. Vouchers, barcodes, QR code marketing (quick response codes) and the proliferation of ‘offers’ apps for smartphones have all boomed this year and will multiply during the next. Being permanently connected online will be the best way to explore and reap the benefits offline. The Internet has come out of the home PC and onto to the high street via mobile platforms.
(19) Social media becomes social commerce
The social revolution that has started to shift power from corporations and brands to consumers seems unstoppable. Gartner predicts that by 2016, social technologies will be integrated with most business applications and that companies should, if they haven’t done so already, integrate their internal communications and collaboration technologies, social CRM technologies and public social site initiatives into one coherent and coordinated strategy.
Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang predicts that in approximately two years, social networks will be more powerful than corporate websites, as individual identities and relationships will increasingly be built on these platforms. Brands will need to serve community interests and will only grow through community advocacy as users continue to drive social innovation. If corporations want growth they will have to become (more) social or die.
While social media marketing continues to get a lot of media attention and companies are investing more in this area ($1.2 billion in 2011, Forrester), search marketing (PPC and SEO) will still take the lion’s share of digital marketing budgets ($20.7 billion in 2011, Forrester). SEO in particular isn’t sexy and it’s a lot of good old hard work, but it gets results and it isn’t going anywhere.
Well that’s it – a round-up of my predictions for the next year and beyond. Some a lot more contentious than others, and I’m sure there will be plenty of disagreements.
I’ll leave you with three ‘extras’ that didn’t make the list. Next year will see the birth of what some have called ‘Generation No’ as Facebook loses its grip on an entire generation – kids (from secondary school and college/uni to young professionals) just don’t want to be on the same social network as their parents. It’s not cool and it’s not clever to watch your Mum playing Farmville…
Oh yes, and William and Kate will start a family and Posh and Becks will split up. There, told you my interests were diverse, it’s all in my FlipBoard feed : )Tweet