At the beginning of 2009 I ran the ridiculous and proverbial fools errand of predicting trends for the year. As I said then, if I scored better than 60%, I would tackle the trending tightrope again in 2010. Before I do, here's what I speculated last year and how I faired against myself.
- More consolidation in the LBS space. Check. Not only did we see Google do everything themselves, simplifying the once-overly complex supply and value chain considerably, but we also saw LBS M&A deals nearly level with the explosive growth of 2007.
- Carrier Network-As-A-Service irrelevance. I didn't nail this one, but got it partially correct. SDPs are still around and more modern APIs are now available, but when I talk to developers about these, they aren't aware they exist and are instead focused on handset only development where Location is now a measly feature everyone uses. Also, Mobile Browser support for device resource access isn't quite there yet, but W3C's GeoLocation API is prime time, endorsed and supported by all the new webkit entrants. It's coming, soon.
- App Store proliferation and carrier billing disintermediation. There are now over 100K Apps in the iTunes App store. Need I say more?
- Smartphones will receive first-class subsidy care and marketing. When was the last time you saw a carrier ad promoting a feature phone? 'Nuff said.
- A resurgence in mobile enterprise applications coverage. I didn't get this one right, but look for it to happen in 2010.
I give myself a mark of 75% for the above - a pass- and as such, here we go... My 5 predictions for 2010.
- Still more consolidation, in three main areas. First, expect one or two vertically-integrated mobile behemoths to buyout other ailing and aging yesteryear map service and mobile hardware behemoths. Second, smaller social location start-ups will get consumed by larger more established social players. We've already seen some initial movement. Third, content-related acquisitions will continue and include buyouts of 3D digital elevation model data providers and place-based POI providers who leverage social feedback loops for ratings and rankings.
- The tectonic shift from voice to data economics will finally start to gain real momentum and circuit-switched networks will begin to be phased out of existence. With this, location-contextual voice will emerge as a new killer enabler and with it a whole new slew of integrated communications and networking applications. Wireless 911 as we know it will change.
- Mobility (connectivity + location) beyond-the-phone trends will continue and become common in M2M infrastructure processes and services managed in the utilities, local government, transportation, healthcare, and energy sectors. GIS has an opportunity to shine again in a new connected mobile era.
- Desktop operating systems & software environments will get further pushed into the specialty back-office, as thinner, lighting-fast operating systems with the Browser, and hybrid clouds start to handle repetitive 'desktop' activities; activities increasingly more mobile-accessible, via WAN connected, location-smart tablets & netbooks. Contextual cloud-sync services will define how users interact with email, calendars, contacts, media files, and map data. More niche social sharing tools will emerge for professional collaboration.
- Location will be included in *every* new mobile application that is introduced. I realize this is nearly impossible to track, but I'll try to keep an eye on it and report back next year.
That's all. I'll keep score again, and a year from now, let you know how I faired. Good luck this year!