Wow can you believe it’s almost 2010 already? 2009 was fun but let’s take a minute to throw out ten mobile predictions for 2010. Take a read and tell us what you think is likely, unlikely and unmentioned. Are you looking forward to mobility in 2010?
(Due to the length of this one, hit the break for the full post)
1. Hardware Specs On Roids
We’ve already seen the beginning of this but 2010 will continue the trend of pushing hardware specs in mobile devices. First off, 1ghz will become the standard processor for WM devices. We’ve already seen this put to use in a few models and this is just the beginning. Before year’s end the infamous Tegra will meet Windows Mobile and become great friends. As the CPU increases so will the components. Expect phones to ship with HD video recording (which really put the squeeze on Flip cameras) as well as HDMI out. Of course, we know that multitouch and digital compasses will become stock in WM devices and I’d also expect a lot more AMOLED screens. For those of you who don’t know, AMOLED uses less energy and are a lot better in bright light and in 2010 the cost will come down as popularity rises. And finally pico projectors will continue their march into the market both integrated in a few models (but not yet mainstream) and Bluetooth pico projectors enter the market at relatively cheap prices.
2. Goodbye Touch Controls…Hello Voice Controls
We can expect to see more control of your phone by using your voice. Of course, we’ve had Voice Command for some time now but 2010 moves beyond this. We know that MS is going to be introducing software to help bridge this gap and we can also expect that Dragon software will continue to make inroads in the mobile world. The result will be the ability to transcribe text in real time (so you can dictate emails and texts) as well as having your emails and texts read to you, all of which will be streamlined with a low learning curve.
3. Swype is King
I know, I was just talking about how things are going to move to a voice controlled system, but voice doesn’t do everything. Fundamentally, there are too many times where we can’t dictate our emails, either because we’re in public or in a meeting or otherwise. But now when we go to type we’ll want more…more speed, more accuracy and less Blackberry thumb. The solution? Swype. It’s a new input method that’s available on the Omnia II that lets you type a word by dragging your finger across the keyboard and without lifting your finger until you’re done with the word. I think it’s fairly unanimous among anyone who has tried it – it’s not good, it’s ridiculously good and revolutionary. It is faster than tapping away on either a physical or onscreen keyboard and it works. You can speed away on the thing and it just gets it. Using it for a few minutes comes with a real wow factor as you realize how smart it is. Now there are competitors that work similarly and I’m not predicting a market winner (whether it is Swype, Shapewriter or Tiki6Notes), but the method will become stock in 2010. I can even invasion a front facing QWERTY (you know, like a Blackberry) that has a fixed keyboard but the keyboard will actually be a capacitive screen and not a physical keyboard and utilize Swype-type tech. Oh and along with Swype I think we see improvements in tactile feedback to let us do more without looking more at our device. Expect more precision in tactile feedback and more realistic responses.
4. It’s The Networks
We’ve already seen the start of the network wars with Sprint touting the first 4G service in North America, VZ showing off how large its network is while preparing for 4G to roll out, all while AT&T and TMo try to fix their 3G infrastructure. Yeah, things are likely looking up for VZ’s network overall. But the networks will universally be strained. We’ll see more VOIP calls, streaming TV and GoogSMS. All of this whores data while taking profit from the carriers (since those text messages, calls and media would otherwise be paid features). Carriers will be forced to clamp down a bit and it wouldn’t surprise me if we hear a lot more about a new carrier named Google. And while all of this goes on in the background WM and VZ will become BFFs (best friends forever:)). See, AT&T is ‘home of the iPhone’ and hasn’t put any real effort into WM in the past decade. Sprint still has a love affair with Palm (and its own problems with shedding users). TMo will get the HD2 which will be great but TMo is too small of a carrier to really dent the market. But if you’ve been watching VZ has been quietly amassing a war chest of anti-iPhone phones and I know we’ve seen a lot of Droid Does ads (and those will continue) but think about what else VZ has already – Imagio, Touch Pro 2 and the Omnia II. If you put the carriers head to head, VZ has a better lineup of WM phones than AT&T and I think this spread continues to grow. Part of this is caused by the tension that happens every summer when the next iPhone comes out…right around the time when WM 7 comes out and AT&T has already picked sides in this battle…In other words, let’s get ready to embrace VZ in 2010 cause they also took sides already.
5. The WM Roller Coaster
We’ve seen the operating system wars move a bit over the past year and the trends will continue. Android will gain ground and the iPhone will continue to gain ground. Of course, overall smart phone sales will pick up so there will be more to go around, but the big loser of 2010 will be Blackberry. Aside from their recent issues with their network dropping on multiple occasions, the bigger problem is that their devices are too static and while they may appeal to the business user, as the rest of the smart phones get smarter, BB’s change their shape and size a bit but fundamentally they are what they are and the markets will move beyond them. So with the gain of Droid and the iPhone and the drop of BB where does that leave WM? Well the first half is not going to be a great for them. Everyone knows WM7 is on the way and HTC’s lineup for 2010 reveals very little in terms of revolutionary devices. Yes, North America will get the HD2 but that’s already old news. The reality is that as the Goog phone comes out and a new iPhone comes out they will hurt WM but WM7 will reverse the trends. Microsoft learned a lot about advertising in this past year with Windows 7. It’s like the light went off and they finally understood the relevance in making your customer proud to use your product. Well this trend continues with WM7 which will have a new ad blitz and by year’s end WM will be trending up and make inroads on both the corporate and casual user.
6. WM7 Works
OK I sort of started this one with #5 but it’s big enough to get its own spot on the list. I know we’ve seen leaks of 6.5.3 and it’s far from mind-blowing. But I think MS has more going on in the background that we haven’t seen yet. Of course the hardware support and the beginning of standardized APIs will be great and really help the platform advance, but a more rounded software base will ultimately come out of this. Social networking will be integrated in a far better way and yes, we’ll get Zune support and the ability to upgrade our ROMs without losing our data. No, it shouldn’t have taken this long, but when it happens we’ll all be there in need of a change of underwear.
7. Marketplace Picks Up Steam
No, Marketplace will not be the App Store by the end of 2010. It will still be a fraction of it in terms of number of apps. But Marketplace will substantially gain in the number of apps and I would expect them to restructure their store to encourage more developers. This will require more in the way of contests and maybe even developing more apps themselves (like the Facebook app) and paying third parties to develop for WM. The process of submitting an app will also change as MS opens the doors a little more to developers so they can help get apps to the market quicker and with fewer frustrations. To encourage the localization of free utilities I’d expect a change in structure to permit developers to add free apps for a nominal price and not be subjected to the $100 minimum charge. Of course, the geographic restrictions will be lifted and the ability to install to a storage card will be added. Hopefully 2010 will be the year MS understands that apps don’t make the phone…but they do make the phone relevant.
8. WM Appreciates HTC But Has New Friends
We’ve all been fascinated with HTC for some time now. Part of this is because they’ve been the leading developers of WM for the past few years and of course, having the support of the XDA community has helped them stay on top. However, we know HTC is developing a lot of new Android phones in early 2010 and very little for WM. At the same time we see LG, Acer and Samsung pumping out new phones with new features. Yup, Samsung brings a sleek device with an AMOLED screen and great camera while LG brings a Snapdragon phone with a pico projector and because they are not HTC phones they got 1/10 of the hype they deserved. In fact, Samsung’s app store has about the same number of apps as Marketplace already so we can see Samsung really moving towards WM. Well, as this trend continues we’ll see HTC cede ground and XDA may be forced to open its doors a bit because of this.
9. The Browser Wars Continue
We see it on desktops and expect to see mobile browser wars pick up in 2010. We’ve seen the recent improvements to both Skyfire and Opera. And now that we’ve seen IE on Zune we know it’s capable of more than we have. At the same time, we know that Firefox mobile is coming to WM soon. So how does this all shake up? I’m not picking a winner except to declare us the winners. As the wars heat up WM users get to smile proudly in their choices of top notch browsers as the mobile experience and the desktop experience continue to converge.
10. Software That Works
It’s pretty clear that cloud computing will gain steam in 2010 and that means more access to our desktop files wherever we are and our phones continue to be an extension of our PCs. Of course, that’s not the only thing that moves to mobile. Ebook readers are becoming hot right now with Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony all pumping out new devices. But the money isn’t in the hardware. The book sales are where the gold is. So expect to see ebook software from each of the manufacturers on all handsets. At the same time expect more and more augmented reality applications to hit mobile devices. Of course real time social networking continues its trend. And on the WM front the introduction of OpenGL ES 2.0 as a requirement will bring some real gaming to WM. Across the mobile front expect the entire line of devices to gain as phone specs increase. It will be harder for people to justify shelling out another $200 for a handheld gaming device when they already have a high end phone and this will continue to push the phone as a high end game platform through 2010.
So what do you think? What was missed? What will fall flat? What are you looking forward to?