A look at the gadgets and technological trends that shaped the digital world in 2010.
Contributed By Jamshed Wadia
|PHOTO COURTESY OF WINDOWS PHONE, MICROSOFT
It’s not surprising that most of the advancements achieved in the technological world this year are related to mobility, entertainment-based and poised to make us ever more productive on the go. Some are breakthroughs—new, disruptive technologies that are completely changing the way we work, socialize and organize our lives, while others are ideas that have been incubating for a while. Here are the top game changers.
The Media Tablet
The iPad has probably been the most significant and anticipated product introduction of 2010. After its tremendous success and appeal to consumers, many technological manufacturers worth their salt have either launched or are in the process of launching their own tablet versions. Quite a few non-branded Android variants have surfaced after the launch of the iPad, but the most legitimate Android tablet that has been launched after iPad is the Samsung Galaxy tab. In the coming year, many more vendors, such as RIM, Dell, Toshiba, Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Fujitsu, are expected to launch their tablets.
Many skeptics have questioned the need for a computing device in between a PC and a smartphone but the truth of the matter is that increasingly, the web or cloud is all we need to interface with, as a consumer of content. More and more, users are becoming more social and mobile over the web. Tablets are also proving to be superior e-readers, with the proliferation of digital books, newspapers, and magazines, not to mention Web TV—all these serve to increase the functionality of tablets. In fact, media tablets are estimated to grow at a 50 percent compounded annual rate, with an estimated shipment of more than 40 million units in 2011.
This segment within the mobile phone category has probably seen the most intense competition and innovation in 2010. This year alone, its market has been estimated to have seen a jump of 55 percent over last year. One of the biggest gainers in the smartphone OS space this year has been the Android. Very recently Google’s vice president of engineering mentioned that more than 300, 000 Android devices are being activated daily, an undisputed testimony to the growing popularity of the Android platform on smartphones. Although Nokia is still the leader in the smart phone segment, it’s Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android that made the most significant gains in 2010, with the most note-worthy product introductions being the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S respectively. But the biggest, and most surprising launch in this segment was the introduction of the Windows 7 OS from Microsoft, applicable on more than 10 handset designs. It may have Windows written all over it, but make no mistake, Windows Phone 7 is not the desktop PC experience forced into a handphone—it is a new, ground-up design suited for the smartphone platform. Having invested more than a billion dollars to promote it, and roping in much-needed apps to support it, it looks like Microsoft is finally shaping up to be a serious contender in the smartphone OS arena.
Geo-location is increasingly becoming a necessary feature for many mobile phone applications. With the advances in GPS technology, the growing popularity of social networks and a need to think and act local, there is a lot one can do with geo-location functions. Some social broadcasting apps that have gained popularity in 2010 are Foursquare and Gowalla. The other significant geo-location integration birthed this year was the launch of Facebook’s “Places,” which allows a person to check in to locations, Foursquare-style.
Both Google and Bing have cut deals with major social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, Myspace and others for real-time search. Real-time search updates users as things are happening on the Web. For example, live tweets, Yahoo Answers, news articles and Web pages now stream in on the actual result pages for a user’s query. It also works on the iOS and Android mobile platforms. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how competitors better integrate real time data with relevance so that users can get the best of both worlds.
Measuring Social influence & Sentiment
Ever since the advent and popularity of social media, marketers have searched for answers on measuring reach and influence. Some progress has been made in this area with the availability of tools that measure social influence, which can be considered as the measure of one’s reputation across the web. It can be calculated through the analysis of several factors such as the authority of a person or an organization’s network of contacts, online activity, exposure and visibility, number of subscribers to the respective RSS feeds and so on. Some note-worthy mentions of tools that have been introduced or refurbished in 2010 are Klout, PeerIndex, Grader, Twitalyzer, Social Mention, Radian 6 and ScoutLabs. The constant reinvention of these tools only seek to further push the extent to which we can reap the benefits of being in on the most minute detail of another person’s life.