Parks Associates Blog

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What's In Store for Technology in 2011

It has been a big year in personal technology, from the debut and early success of Apple's iPad, to the rise and continuous improvement of Google's Android smart phone platform, to the continued surge in social services led by Facebook and Twitter.

Apple: Coming off a highly successful 2010, in which it introduced a new category of portable computer—the multitouch tablet—and sold millions of the product, Apple will have to withstand an onslaught of competitors by wowing consumers again with the second version of the iPad. At the same time, it will have to make a widely expected transition for the iPhone from a single carrier in the U.S., AT&T, to a second, likely Verizon

Google: The search giant, also riding high, is now in so many product areas it competes with nearly everyone. In its core search business, it must focus on fending off a surprisingly strong challenge from Microsoft's Bing by giving consumers more attractive, actionable results.

Microsoft: The software giant still generates strong consumer loyalty with its older products, like Windows and Office and Xbox, all of which have had updates in the past year or two. But it faces big challenges in two hot areas: smart phones and tablets. Its new Windows Phone 7 platform has some nice design features, but also some missing capabilities that need to be addressed.

RIM: The BlackBerry maker had a good 2010 in some ways, though sales were propped up by two-for-one giveaways, and consumer surveys show enthusiasm fading for the iconic smart phone. The company has an answer: a new software platform called QNX, but is vague on when that will show up on the BlackBerry. For 2011, RIM's big move will be a new QNX-based tablet, the PlayBook, which looks speedy and highly attractive in the limited demos RIM has provided.

HP: The technology behemoth's laptops and printers have proved popular with consumers. But it hasn't had any real presence in smart-phones, tablets or consumer cloud services. To solve the problems, in 2010 HP bought innovative but struggling Palm, whose smart-phone operating system, webOS, and phones, the Pre and Pixi, got good reviews but sold poorly and didn't attract many third-party apps.

Facebook and Twitter: The twin leaders in social networking were red-hot in 2010, attracting vast numbers of users. They have huge opportunities for further success, but face challenges. Smaller services, like social-coupon company Groupon, continue to emerge with new social and community ideas consumers like.

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