Predictions: Technology in 2011

Last year's predictions are here.

And for this year . . .


  • 2011 will begin – and perhaps see – the end of the Desktop as a major computing device.  Sales of laptops, netbooks, tablets, and other devices will dominate.  Post-PC strategies will become a hot topic in Q2-Q3.
  • The iPad and Tablets will continue to do insanely well.
  • "Netbooks" as devices will actually start vanishing, their functions being subsumed into Laptops and Tablets.  Netbooks as a distinct product line will begin to vanish in the 2011 holiday season.
  • The MacBook Air will do better than expected as it will be seen as a high-end Netbook, though no one will call it that.
  • Mobile tech will be everywhere, even mores than now.  Some people will move completely to mobile devices (tablets, phones) for a great deal of work.  The use of landlines will further decrease.
  • Acer, Asus, and Samsung will do very well in the Android Tablet markets, and Samsung will likely position themselves as "high-end."
  • Verizon will get the iPhone, and the iPhone will have yet another insane amount of sales.  This will occur at the same time a new iPhone model is announced.  You know, co-incidence . . .
  • The proliferation of mobile and tablet Apps will change how people use devices, and websites and similar online services will start having Apps for people that don't want to go to the web.
  • App stores will proliferate.  This will involve the usual controversy over restrictions, but also give new and old developers more chances to make money.
  • SaaS is going to be big and get bigger, especially as the usefulness of the services becomes more apparent.  This will be accelerated by Google's Netbook Plans.  More and more startup companies will start "in the cloud."
  • Speaking of The Cloud, we're going to get sick of hearing about it because it will be the annoying buzzword of 2011.
  • With so much available on the web, via apps, etc. people will crave simplicity.  Services that deliver that, or even entire pre-configured (and self-configuring systems) will be more popular.
  • Corporate IT will begin its decline later in the year, and this will be making news in 2011-2012.
  • Google will possibly buy MySpace or another non-Twitter Social Media company for the social services.  I also give it a decent chance Google will partner with Salesforce.
  • Speaking of Google, by the end of 2011 it will be apparent Android and Chrome will merge somehow.
  • AOL will likely buy Yahoo.  This will be the signal to take them seriously again.  AOL will then allow itself to be courted.
  • Sprint and T-Mobile will merge, as they really have nothing else to loose.
  • Best Buy will reorganize itself around even more consumer electronics, and possibly ditch some of the appliances.  They'll also add more service options.
  • The various security scares of the year, culminating in the Wikileaks release, is going to lead to security snake-oil salesmen coming out of the woodwork.  Most of their "solutions" will be BS.



  • First of all, I think we’re going to see the biggest story of the past year – tablets – get even bigger. So far, the tablet wars have been all iPad, with the Samsung Galaxy mounting a strong challenge at the tail end of the year. (We won’t even go into those quick and cheap Android tabs – like the one that briefly appeared at Kmart. They don’t count).
  • The first quarter of the year is going to see a flood of Android tabs from name manufacturers like Asus, Dell and the super-ambitious Acer, which has made no secret of its desire to be #2 in the tablet market (since Apple seems to have the top slot locked up for quite some time). And then, there’s the dark horse candidates – the tablets from Palm and BlackBerry/Research in Motion that will utilize their own OS’s.
  • So what’s going to happen after the dust settles? I’m predicting Apple will be at the top, and Samsung will be duking it out with the netbook veterans – who are used to building small and well-functioning devices – for the silver medal. Of the two standalones, I think Palm has the better chance of being the spoiler here, given the strong following of their brand and HP’s total commitment to the tablets.


  • Okay, let’s get the biggie out of the way now: Verizon/iPhone OTP. It will happen in the first quarter of the year, and it will be a huge blow to AT&T, as disgruntled customers refuse to renew their contracts and rush over to Verizon in droves. The Droid and Galaxy will not suffer, however, as they’ve both built up strong followings that will choose to stay with their brands. It will get harder for other Android phones to establish a foothold at Verizon, however.
  • The big loser here will be Research in Motion/BlackBerry, as flocks of Verizon customers will choose to swap their old Berries for the new kid in town. (Remember, the iPhone is making increasing strides in the business market, which has always been BlackBerry’s stronghold). They’ve been losing ground already, and this won’t help.
  • AT&T will attempt to regain lost ground by striking another big-ticket exclusive deal – would not rule out them becoming the exclusive carrier for the PSP Phone. However, their reputation for sluggish service will haunt them for awhile, despite the extra bandwidth they just purchased.
  • Nokia and Sprint will both continue to flounder around. I’m going to go waaaay out on a limb and say I would not be at all shocked if Sprint and T-Mobile joined the merger mania parade, combining forces to reclaim their share of the marketplace against the two iPhone-holding companies.


  • Microsoft and IBM will both carve themselves successful niches superserving the business market – which will be the only one extensively using desktops. The laptop will continue to progress toward being the home computer of choice, with tablets (and, to a lesser extent, netbooks) taking up the laptop’s old role of the on-the-go computer.
  • Apple will continue to gain an increasing share of the home computer market. Business, outside of publishing, will still be resistant to the Mac, however. Apple will put increasing emphasis on their laptops to the point where I would not be shocked if they killed off the Mini at some point during the year, and scaled back production of the tower and iMac.
  • Netbooks will still hang around, but will have a much smaller profile than before, as most of the major netbook makers push aggressively into the tablet market. They may find a niche with older users who don’t need the full computing power of a laptop yet are still too tied to the idea of a keyboard to fully embrace tablets.

Steven Savage