NOTE: This is the second piece of our two-part analysis of technological trends in 2011. You may want to check out Part One that deals with ongoing economic uncertainty, but also analyzes the encouraging signs of recovery in 2011 across key industry segments, including mobile space, networked TVs, 3D technologies, and streaming entertainment, while explaining how carriers are taking us all for a ride with their so-called fourth-generation networks. As always, feel free to contribute to the piece with your thoughts in the comment section.
The living room is your entertainment capitol
Connected TVs and the associated peripherals will continue to move very well for the next two years delivering more than hundred million units worldwide by the end of next year. Internet–based content services will be the fair weather solution for the 15–20 percent of people who are early adopters and don't treat their entertainment as a passive activity.
While the majority of the buying public will purchase the connected TVs in 2011, they will still use Netflix and Roku time–shifting solutions rather than online search.
Time–shifting and download video services will significantly impact disc rentals and sales. By 2015 the video and movie industry will be serving only niche market segments with discs. Mobile TV and content viewing – along with all web service uses –– will be a rapidly expanding millennial user's form of entertainment.
In about two years, manufacturers will switch set production to 3D. The increase in manufacturing cost is minimal. Production switch over won't take place until 2012 when content volumes and consumer demand will reach the all important tipping point.
While 3D TV sales didn't meet most overly optimistic projections this year, the technology is far from withering. 3D TV set sales will double (about eight million units) in 2011 and surpass 80 million units by 2014 in the US. This will be stimulated not just by manufacturers and their educational marketing efforts but also by:
- double the number of sporting events in 3D
- more than 150 TV specials in 3D
- at least 10 3D series pilots by the end of the year
- VOD, streaming 3D movies to the home will be "standard" fare by the third quarter
- significant reduction of the premium pricing of 3D sets, players and peripherals (including low-cost 3D cameras and camcorders) that will easily transfer content to 3D-enabled computers and TV sets.
Hybrid and cloud storage takes over
In 2011, you will be checking out a wide variety of modern storage options to replace your local hard drive. Think cloud storage akin to Dropbox, SSDs, Flash-based gizmos - you name it, hybrid storage is the name of the game in 2011.
Despite a major increase in malware and cybercrime in the coming year, expect cloud storage to become a major storage solution for home and business.
Cloud storage will grow because folks will increasingly use smartphones, tablets and netbooks as their primary communications and entertainment devices.
These devices are already built in a way that primarily relies on minimalistic flash memory or solid-state drives, typically between 32GB and 64GB capacities.
However, hard drives will remain the prime storage medium in corporate world and cloud storage farms. Also, expect hard drive to continue dominating small-to-medium business and home applications throughout 2011.
The new MacBook Air is the first consumer notebook built entirely around Flash chips and ditching the hard drive entirely. Apple says this is how all notebooks will be made soon.
It is important to note that by the end of 2011 more than 45 percent of the hard drives sold will be hybrid units, meaning flash front–end to mass storage device. By the end of 2012 more than 60 percent of the units will be hybrid.
By mid–2011 4TB external hard drives will hit the market at very aggressive price points. Base storage for mobile computers will increase to half a gigabyte and power users will certainly opt for 1TB drives. Home servers will predominantly use 2–4TB units.
Microsoft gets back on track
Make no mistake about it, Microsoft will get back on its feet in 2011. In order for that to happen, however, the company needs to do what Apple Kool–Aid drinkers do so well, which is blow their horn.
After all, Apple people have been nimble and correct more than anyone in a fickle consumer marketplace.
Take iPhone- and iPad-totting executives and middle managers who brought Apple's iDevices a much-needed business credibility more than a fully-blown advertising assault could have ever achieved.
While certainly not taking tips from the Jobs' playbook, 2011 will be the year that Ballmer finally transitions the Redmond-based company from a software behemoth to a versatile, efficient and effective service organization. Google will continue to progress only in the area they have historically carved out for themselves, which is click-thru sales.
Microsoft should certainly be praised for building the physical and fiscal foundation for organizations of all types and coupling that with cloud services and support.
Of course, the company also faces big challenges as the likes of IBM, Amazon, EMC and others increase competition in this space.
At the end of the day, Microsoft's strategy should return them to the good graces of the world's economic engine and possibly the shareholder community.
When it comes to businesses in all of the computer, consumer electronics and communications sectors, they will move forward cautiously. Both business and individual consumer optimism and investment should rise slowly and steadily in 2011, which in itself is an awesome news.
But don't expect this to have a big impact on your life in the upcoming year because it is going to take several years before we lift our heads from the proverbial grindstone and see the world through rose colored glasses again.
And there you have it, this is what any self-respecting geek should expect from 2011. Disappointed? Don't be. Can't be any worse than 2010.
And there you have it. Coupled with Part One, this piece wraps up our little two-part forecast of the technological trends to look for in 2011. Hope you enjoyed the analysis and remember where you read it first. Meet us in comments.