Now that 2011 has started, I'll make another stab at what I believe will happen in the tech industry this year.
- This first one is rather easy... Facebook will release an email client, putting them in direct competition with Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! mail. The current email within Facebook is limited in functionality, but in 2011 this will change as Facebook continues to look for ways to grow and grab more "eyeballs."
- Last year I predicted Internet Explorer market share as reported by MarketShare would drop below 50%. While they are still at 57%, I still believe this is going to happen, just a year later. Further though, I believe Chrome is going to pass Firefox as the #2 web browser. Why? Firefox's early adoption was done by tech enthusiasts, and we now see more and more of them adopting Chrome. Further the adoption of Android OS in the mobile and new tablet space puts Chrome in the hands of more users. This, combined with the popularity of Apple's Safari should be enough to drop Internet Explorer finally below 50%, while Chrome will move to the number 2 spot. Unfortunately for the Opera faithful, they'll stay in the number 5 position.
- I believe this is finally the year that Verizon gets the iPhone. With that in mind, it will have even further impact on Sprint and T-Mobile's businesses. To combat Verizon and AT&T, I believe Sprint and T-Mobile will come up with some type of partnership. While their 3G technologies are different, they're going to have to come up with a joint (true) 4G type solution. This may be a joint technology investment (more long-term) or selling handsets that work with both carriers (more immediate). One way or another, Sprint and T-Mobile need to find some creative solutions to compete with Verizon and AT &T.
- The net neutrality and network management issues will continue to be a problem in 2011. At a minimum, we're going to see the FCC rules established in Dec 2010 are not going to be enough to settle the ongoing issues. With this being a hot political issue and a lot of money being pumped into lobbyists coming from Comcast, AT&T, and the like, I think even the new FCC rules will be challenged, further risking net neutrality for the consumer.
Unfortunately, it's not all optimistic for the consumer. Despite the lowering costs for wholesale bandwidth, I believe we (the U.S. consumer) will continue to have to pay more for our data access (home/broadband and mobile) than other places in the world. NetIndex.com has some great data that compares costs vs. service. For example, the U.S. ranks #15 in the world for relative cost per Megabit downloaded and actual cost puts us at #20.
That concludes my tech predictions for 2011. Share you own predictions and/or let me know where you think I'm right and wrong.