My Predictions for 2010 in Tech, Web, and Social Media (Part 1)

So much happened in 2009. Facebook became a household name as well as a tool for business. Twitter became a major player in the sphere of social media, marketing, and customer service. Print media continued to take a nosedive and television became less important as a source of news and entertainment. So what’s in store for us in 2010? Here’s Part 1 of my list of predictions – just some of what could be in store for the world in terms of of technology, the Internet and Social Media. Let’s revisit next December and see how close I got!

Geo-aware Services Become Mainstream

foursquare logo2009 was the year that microblogging became mainstream and 2010 will add geographic awareness to the mix. Fun services like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Brightkite lead the pack of mobile social media apps that work on multiple phones and let you announce where you are and find out where your friends are. Foursquare and Gowalla add a gaming element, the former providing badges for accomplishing certain activities and deeming users “the mayor” of places they frequent the most.

Never having been a fan of games, I’m not attracted to that element of these services but I do think geography will become a key feature of social networks in 2010. And I think these applications will become smarter and more useful for the average person. Think of how useful they could be even in a micro-geo setting like a convention center or even a city where a trade show is happening. Whether Foursquare and Gowalla service or get bought or incorporated into Facebook and/or Twitter, location-based services are here to stay. And the increase in smart phone users makes the popularity of geo-aware services even more likely.

Another notable and fairly new service called Soundtrckr allows you to create your own radio station based on songs that you equate with certain neighborhoods or soundtrckr logospots in a neighborhood. It then allows you to publish that radio station for others to listen to. You can also check out friends’ stations as part of your venturing to a new hood. Currently only available on iPhone, I’m sure Sountrckr will soon come to Blackberry, Droid, etc.

Here’s what I think will eventually be common geo-aware app features:

  • More deal alerts (similiar to those that pop-up when you check in on Fourquare). I could see the user populating a list of items they’re interested in finding the best deals on (with spending ranges in ones profile?). Deal alerts will be sent while you are in a particular neighborhood or area.
  • Better Maps with Street Views to help find locations
  • Ability to Make Oneself Invisible so if you don’t want certain people to know your whereabouts, you can go incognito (to certain people or all people)
  • Features that will connect strangers in person –  for dating, business opportunities (based on profiles), and even job hunting/offering. Wouldn’t it be great to chat with that cute guy across the bar and already know something about him?

Mobile/geo-aware services and features will encourage more opportunities for Internet social networking and in-person networking to complement one another.

The Cloud Will Become Bigger and Better

We’ve been hearing about it for a few years now. The imminent takeover by the elusive “CLOUD”. And many of us use it already on a regular basis with services like Google Docs, Zoho Docs, Box.net, and Dropbox. Let’s face it, anyone who uses Flickr as a photo back-up location is effectively employing the cloud in their everyday computing and Internet lives.

But when will the cloud become part of everyday life as a business application? Judging from the big players exhibiting at the recent Web 2.0 Expo in New York, Cloud Business Solutions are set to take off in 2010. Both the Microsoft Azure platform and IBM’s Lotus Live were hot booths at Web 2.0 Expo and could provide complete Internet, Server, spam-control, and development solutions for businesses in 2010.

Some say that Apple‘s move to buy LaLa.com will change the structure of iTunes to one that is much more like LaLa’s current platform, a web-based storage solution for all of your music, allowing you to listen to it and access it from wherever you may be, as long as you have an Internet connection. Will they keep LaLa‘s web-only pricing structure in tact and allow consumers to listen to their web tunes on their iPhone and iPod Touch? That’s the big question.

Smartphones to Become the new Credit Cards

courtesy creditcards.com

There will need to be some major infrastructure investment on the part of the credit card companies to create standards for this to happen but I believe this is on the horizon for 2010. We’ll still be carrying wallets and our actual plastic but we’ll also have the option in many places to pay with our phones. And the card companies that create the best apps will be the first to benefit. People like to try something new and once it becomes a habit, it becomes easier. I just had my boarding pass scanned from my iPhone to get on a recent Continental Airlines flight. It was a little awkward because you had to make sure the barcode was large enough and not touch any of the volume controls accidently as you held it under the scanner. But it worked, and they were prepared at the airport. So what needs to happen for our smart phones to become our paying device? Much more than Twitter co-founder’s solution of attaching a device to an iPhone. It needs to be easy.

Here’s what I think needs to happen for smartphones to become standard payment devices:

  • Smartphone Readers Need To Be Built and Installed. This will require some heavy lifting by the credit card companies and the vendors they work with to build scanning devices and at-cash-register payment systems. I imagine it will work similar to the current system where your card is simply touched to the device rather than swiped.
  • Smartphones Need to Become Smarter. What cashier wants to wait around as you fiddle with your iphone to search for your American Express Card app on the iphone. These app screens need to be present as you approach any cash register or area where you’ll be paying for something. You can then quickly choose the card and add your pin details.
  • People Need to Feel Safe. People need to get a push-notification system confirmation of their payment but also get confirmation from the cashier. And signatures may still be needed for a while.
  • More people need to have Smart Phones. This is inevitable. The trend is toward smart phones. CNet forecasts that they will represent 37% of the mobile phone market by 2014. I think that estimate is somewhat shy of the truth. Just like most people can’t manage in today’s modern world without a computer today, it will become increasingly difficult to live one’s day-to-day life without a mobile device, i.e. a smartphone.

Maybe all of this won’t happen in 2010 but we’ll be on our way and by mid decade it will become the standard.

Costs to Use Mobile Data Networks to Increase

As more people begin to use smartphones and browse the Internet via mobile devices, data networks will need to improve and funding for that improvement will most likely come from our pockets. iPhone users are data hogs and AT&T’s CEO has admitted that mobile data service in San Francisco and Manhattan is sub standard. And AT&T may experiment with different pricing plans that penalize hyper-users. This is according to a report from Mashable. Costs may eventually stabilize but I believe they will increase before they decrease.

Watch for Part 2 of My Predictions for 2010 in Tech, Web, and Social Media and let me know what your predictions are:

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