2010 tech predictions: Apple’s iPad tablet, 300,000 iPhone apps, ‘4G’ networks

ipadIf you’ve been paying attention to technology rumors, an Apple tablet (i.e., “iPad”) is at the top of many people’s list for most likely rumor to become reality next year.

But when I read that iPad prediction — along with the number “300,000” as a base for iPhone applications in 2010, as well as an acceleration in something called “socialityc” applications for fusing traditional business applications with social and collaboration software and analytics – I sat up and took notice. Particularly because these predictions came from the well-respected, global technology analyst firm IDC.

Why should you care? You might not, if you were unaffected by the recent economic downturn or aren’t experiencing any disruption, new opportunities or benefits from the Internet or web. But if you have an interest in technology and the opportunities it will represent in 2010, read on.

In its free “IDC Predictions 2010: Recovery and Transformation” (download the PDF) the firm predicts modest growth in the information technology and telecommunications area (and back to 2008 pre-downturn spending levels). This report is the broad overview prior to its annual “predictions season,” a time of multiple report releases and webinars that, undoubtedly, drives a lot of its revenue in the first quarter.

There are two broad themes for this set of predictions for 2010: The obvious one is the “recovery” theme, and the other is a more interesting focus on the “transformation” occurring in technology.

Here’s a quick overview:

Apple Tablet: In my view, the “sexy” prediction is related to the Apple iPad, essentially a big iPod Touch, rather than a compact Macintosh. By sporting a bigger screen, an Apple tablet would be ideal for watching videos, surfing the Web, keeping tabs on one’s social media accounts, playing online games and reading more traditional publications, such as books, magazines and newspapers. It’s this sort of multiple capability that will make this device an outstanding platform.

Mobile: Mobile devices in general are another transformative device type that is quickly gaining on the installed base of personal computers worldwide. Projecting that more than 1 billion mobile devices will access the Internet in 2010 — compared with the 1.3 billion PCs doing so around the world — the most strategic portion of the market will be with so-called “converged” devices, or such smartphones as the iPhone, Google Android or Windows Mobile devices.

The Apple iPhone, IDC states, is set to have an available base of 300,000 applications, up from the current 100,000 (which is up from 10,000 one year ago!) while the new Google Android platform will have 50,000 to 75,000 applications available for it, fewer since its open standards capability, and requirement to support multiple phones from different manufacturers, means compatibility will be less than what is achieved with the iPhone’s closed architecture and single manufacturer.

Cloud Computing: Cloud computing is another major theme in this predictions report touting the software, services and platform interaction of applications hosted on the internet in disparate data centers. With more of us accessing the Internet — and cloud services delivered over the growing broadband and growing wireless connections we each have access to — this is a category which will see many innovations in dozens of areas.

Networks: IDC predicts the “4G” superfast wireless networks will be overhyped, even though it acknowledges that it “...is certainly one of the most important network transformations for the next 10 years..” They believe, however, the impact in 2010 will be “minuscule.”

What is most intriguing is the acceleration to extremely fast fiber technologies by the fixed broadband providers. IDC is predicting that in 2010, 2 million more homes will connect to the Internet via fiber, which means a 10 percent penetration of consumer broadband connections (more significant, it stated, is that these 2 million new fiber subscribers will represent 40 percent of net-new ones, meaning people want to go faster, heh?).

Lastly, more wireless services will go “invisible.” Similar to what you see now with Amazon’s ebook reader Kindle “Whispernet” — which sports a built-in wireless connection for purchases, subscription downloads and more — IDC predicts many more providers will build in wireless connection capability to their devices in 2010.

There is significantly more within the report, and I’d encourage you to download the PDF and skim through its 17 pages. Well worth the read.

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