A new year, a new set of technology predictions from Deloitte. Last Wednesday, Deloitte unveiled their annual TMT (technology, media and telecommunications) predictions for 2010 at MaRS and looked back on how their 2009 predictions fared.

Most notable of their 2009 predictions were the rise of netbooks, social networks, smart phones and 3D in theatres and on TV (think Avatar and all the new 3D electronics from Sony and Samsung among others at CES 2010). They were also awfully close on their prediction that one in 10 newspapers in the US would die in 2009 – the actual statistic was one in 12.

This year, the theme was “good enough becomes better than perfect” – meaning that we still want our data anywhere and anytime, but we want to access it economically (and we don’t necessarily need the best device to do it).

So what does Deloitte think that 2010 has in store for technology?  Here’s a sampling from their Top 10 Canadian TMT Predictions for 2010:

  1. eReaders fill a niche, but eBooks fly off the (virtual) shelves: eReaders like the Kindle will be bought by some (Deloitte estimates five million will be sold) but they are essentially a niche product that doesn’t appeal to everyone.  eBooks on the other hand, which can be read on numerous electronic devices that fulfill more than one function such as computers, netbooks and smartphones, will do better than eReaders and Deloitte estimates 100 million eBooks will be sold.  Thus “good enough is the new perfect”:  eBooks may look and read better on a specialized eReader device, but readers may settle for lesser quality reading of their eBooks on multipurpose devices.
  2. Smaller than a netbook and bigger than a smartphone: Net tablets arrive: Net tablets, on the other hand, could be the eReader killer. Deloitte calls them the Goldilocks of devices: not too big (like laptops and netbooks) and not too small (like smart phones), they are just right.  Tablets will have colour and video, unlike current eReaders.  The world waited with baited breath for Apple’s release of its first Tablet (iPad).
  3. Publishing fights back: Pay walls and micropayments: The era of giving it away for free may be over for some of the most influential online newspapers. The New York Times just announced last week that they are indeed going ahead with a pay wall.  Other international newspapers with strong followings will be watching to see if readers will accept paying small amounts for some of their content or migrate elsewhere to free content.  I, for one, love the International Herald Tribune (The New York Times‘ international edition) and will likely pony up the cash to continue reading it.
  4. Cleantech makes a comeback but solar stays in the shadows: There has been a recovery in cleantech stocks due to government stimulus and investor interest.  However, solar technology still faces obstacles such as a glut of supply (though this could be good for consumers if prices fall to move inventory) and insufficient growth in demand which will slow production and halt new projects.
  5. IT procurement stands on its head: What if it were the employee, not the IT department, who decided what kind and type of gadget (i.e. computer or cell phone) the employee would use for work? IT departments are predicted to become more flexible to accommodate and support different devices.  Employees want to pick their device or, even better, be able to use their personal smartphone and laptops for work  (and thus have them somewhat paid for and supported by their employer) instead of having two devices.  Large chip companies previously targeted their wares at the profitable enterprise sector first, but are now targeting consumers in a more consumer-centric procurement environment. It looks like a more heterogeneous corporate client environment is on its way.

Read more of Deloitte’s TMT Predictions and download the guides for the technology, media and/or telecom predictions at www.tmtpredictions.ca.

Predictions Hall of Shame

Just for fun here’s a taste of some who got their technology predictions really, really wrong:

  • Everything that can be invented has been invented.” ~Charles Duell, Director of US Patent Office, 1899
  • Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” ~Harry M. Warner, Warner Bros Pictures, 1927
  • There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.” ~Robert Miliham, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923
  • Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.“~Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, 1895
  • The horse is here today, but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.” ~President, Michigan Savings Bank (advising against investing in the Ford Motor Company)
  • Video won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” ~Daryl F. Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, commenting on television, 1946
  • What use could the company make of an electric toy?” ~Western Union, when it turned down rights to the telephone, 1878

Keri Damen

Keri leads the strategic design, development, marketing and expansion of cutting edge business programs in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, marketing, HR, management and leadership at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies. See more…