NOTE: This is the first in our two-part analysis of technological trends in 2011. Check back with us on the New Year's Eve, December 31, 2010, when the second piece goes live.
What to expect in the year that's just around the corner apart from more financial woes and job insecurity even though the government is pouring billions into the depressed economy?
Although your guess is as good as ours and you're welcome to chime in with your thoughts in the comment section, we took the plunge and broke down 2011 across several meaningful segments that are bound to impact our lives.
Let's start by saying 2011 is going to be the year we wanted three years ago when the financial institutions "borrowed" our global wellbeing. It was the first time we entered unfamiliar territory because the financial meltdown didn't affect just one country but all of us.
Economy: Time to get back to work
Internationally governments are feeling their way along the precipice because the depth and duration of the recession was beyond what most could clearly recall. They are moving – hesitantly though – but still slightly dazed by the headlights of the near miss.
At the same time the US government ground to a near halt because of the partisan politics that could last for two years.
In past recessions companies have finally become sick and tired of being sick and tired and realized that government – any government – can't move things forward.
When all is said and done, it's up to business to get the job done.
Most of the 80+ percent of the employed US population (ten percent tracked unemployed, eight percent dropped off the grid) are certain that conditions are and will continue to improve.
This was apparent over the holiday buying season where PC, consumer electronics and communications sales increased more than seven percent and a greater percentage were cash sales. The trend is that more notable considering the mounting additional personal and family debt.
You'll work harder in 2011
While company management is optimistic about growth they are paying closer attention to, market changes have enhanced their risk management and resulted in a much more effective and stringent cost control measures being put in place.
That undoubtedly means low to modest workforce expansion and greater attention to product line extensions rather than revolutionary new product introductions, at least for the next two years. Or to put it another way, more workload and pressure will be placed on the existing workforce until staff expansion is almost impossible to avoid.
Translation: You need someone who will empathize with you.
Wars will be waged over premium content
Audio and video content is driving and affecting almost every segment of the industry, from pipelines to production, viewing systems, and screens to professional, prosumer, and consumer producers to distribution and storage providers.
Household bandwidth demand will more than triple this year alone. Wired and wireless provisioning will be expanded as rapidly as possible around the globe.
However, it's expected to be only marginally in place by the end of 2011. Provisioners are now looking more closely at their previous friends and now competitors.
Eating away at the telco and cable service providers' sales increases will be such firms as Netflix (which is expected to roll out globally in 2011), consumer "rights" entertainment provisioners such as ivi.TV (live Internet television for just five bucks a month), businesses increasing their use of video in their marketing efforts and the growing spectrum of YouTube and similar video sharing sites.
Since most consumers don't know what level of service they have (iPhone 4 folks think the device delivers 4 of "something"), providers in the US are rushing to "enhance" their voice, data and video services with their version of 4G.
4G, what 4G?
Sprint initially announced their fourth-generation network services but in fairness 4G standards hadn't been established at the time. With the new standards Hess has phased out the advertising terminology. This hasn't prevented T-Mobile and Verizon from promoting their versions of "real 4G."
Oh sure, they don't come close to the 4G standards that the International Telecommunication Union recently published - that's going to be "a little more costly" after all. And if you think in 2011 the Federal Communications Commission will monitor the carriers in order to protect your consumer rights, think again.
The media likes to speculate that freeing the iPhone from the clutches of AT&T and bringing it to other carriers will show customers outside the AT&T fold what they've been missing. In reality, consumers will be able to experience the same volume of dropped services as AT&T customers endured. Sorry you got your wish now aren't you?
Due to the growth of data and content service demand, US providers will finally do more than just float tiered-service trial balloons - in 2011, they will implement it across the board.
This wraps up part one of our two-piece analysis covering technological trends to expect in 2011. Stay tuned Friday morning for a second part of our analysis that covers Microsoft's return to glory, the future of connected television, 3D finally taking off in a big way, solid-state storage gaining more ground, and why Apple Kool-Aid drinkers do so well - all of this right here on BSN.