Ten Technologies That Will Rock 2010

by Erick Schonfeld on January 1, 2010

Now that the aughts are behind us, we can start the new decade with a bang. So many new technologies are ready to make a big impact this year. Some of them will be brand new, but many have been gestating and are now ready to hatch. If there is any theme here it is the mobile Web. As I think through the top ten technologies that will rock 2010, more than half of them are mobile. But those technologies are tied to advances in the overall Web as well.

Below is my list of the ten technologies that will leave the biggest marks on 2010:

  1. The Tablet: It’s the most anticipated product of the year. The mythical tablet computer (which everyone seems to be working on). There are beautiful Android tablets, concept tablets, and, of course, the one tablet which could define the category, the Apple Tablet. Or iSlate or whatever it’s called. If Steve Jobs is not working on a tablet, he’d better come up with one because anything else will be a huge disappointment.Why do we need yet another computer in between a laptop and an iPhone? We won’t really know until we have it. But the answer lies in the fact that increasingly the Web is all you need. As all of our apps and data and social lives move to the Web, the Tablet is the incarnation of the Web in device form, stripped down to its essentials. It will also be a superior e-reader for digital books, newspapers, and magazines, and a portable Web TV.
  2. Geo: The combination of GPS chips in mobile phones, social networks, and increasingly innovative mobile apps means that geolocation is increasingly becoming a necessary feature for any killer app. I’m not just talking about social broadcasting apps like Foursquare and Gowalla. The advent of Geo APIs from Twitter , SimpleGeo, and hopefully Facebook will change the game by adding rich layers of geo-related data to all sorts of apps. Twitter just recently launched its own Geo API for Twitter apps and acquired Mixer Labs, which created the GeoAPI.
  3. Realtime Search: After licensing realtime data streams from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and others, Google and Bing are quickly ramping up their realtime search. But realtime search is still treated as a silo, and is not regularly surfaced in the main search results page. In 2010, I expect that to change as the search engines learn for what types of searches it makes sense to show Tweets and other realtime updates. In the meantime, a gaggle of realtime search startups such as Collecta, OneRiot, and Topsy will continue to push the ball forward on the realtime search experience. Realtime search will also become a form of navigation, especially on Twitter and Facebook. The key will be to combine realtime search with realtime filters so that people are delivered not only the most recent information but the most relevant and authoritative as well.
  4. Chrome OS: In November, Google gave the world a sneak peek at its Chrome operating system, which is expected to be released later this year. The Chrome OS is Google’s most direct attack on Windows with an OS built from the ground up to run Web apps fast and furious. Already a Google is rumored to be working on a Chrome Netbook which will show the world what is possible with it a “Web OS.” It sounds like it would be perfect for Tablet computers also (see above). Chrome is a risky bet for Google, but it is also potentially disruptive.
  5. HTML5: The Web is built on HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and the next version which has been taking form for a while is HTML5. Already browsers such as Firefox and Google’s Chrome (the browser, not the OS) are HTML5-friendly. Once HTML5 becomes more widespread across the Web, it will reduce the need for Flash or Silverlight plug-ins to view videos, animations, or other rich applications. They will all just be Web-native. HTML5 also supports offline data storage, drag-and-drop, and other features which can make Web apps act more like desktop apps. A lot of Websites will be putting HTML5 under the hood in 2010.
  6. Mobile Video: With video cameras integrated into the latest iPhone 3GS and other Web phones, live video streaming apps are becoming more commonplace—both streaming from phones and to them. As mobile data networks beef up their 3G bandwidth and even start to tiptoe into true broadband with 4G (which Verizon is heading towards with its next-gen LTE network), mobile video usage will take off.
  7. Augmented Reality: One of the coolest ways to use the camera lens on a mobile phone is with the increasing array of augmented reality apps. They add a layer of data to reality by placing everything from photos to Tweets to business listings directly on top of the live live image captured by the camera. Tonchidot’s Sekai Camera, Layar, GraffitiGeo and even Yelp are examples of augmented reality apps.
  8. Mobile Transactions: As mobile phones become full-fledged computers, they can be used for mobile commerce also. One area poised to take off in 2010 are mobile payments and transactions. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s latest startup Square turns the iPhone into a credit card reader. Verifone has its competing product, as does Mophie. The idea is that any mobile phone can become a point of sale, and those mobile transactions can tie into back-end accounting, CRM, and other enterprise systems.
  9. Android: Last year saw the launch of nearly two dozen Android-powered phones, including the Verizon Droid. In a few days, Google’s Nexus One will launch as the first Android phone which can be unlocked from any given carrier (it is launching with T-Mobile). Android is Google’s answer to the iPhone, and as it reaches critical mass across multiple carriers and handsets it is becoming increasingly attractive to developers. There are already more than 10,000 apps on Android, next year there will be even more. And other devices running on the mobile OS are launching as well.
  10. Social CRM: We’ve seen the rise of Twitter and Facebook as social communication tools. This year, those modes of realtime communication will find their way deeper into the enterprise. Salesforce.com is set to launch Chatter, it’s realtime stream of enterprise data which interfaces with Twitter and Facebook and turn them into business tools. Startups like Yammer and Bantam Live are also making business more social.