Technology Predictions for 2011

Since we are about to bring 2010 to a close I thought it would be fun to make some predictions about the technology industry for the upcoming year. Some of these predictions will be more educated and some may be bold but I'll provide ample reasoning for all of them.Smartphones / Super-phones will outsell notebooks and desktops

I remember in 2005 how momentous of a moment it was considered when in the middle of that year notebooks outsold desktops and took over the majority of PC market share. This signaled the move to mobility as more and more enterprises and consumers choose portability over performance. 2011 will mark a similar milestone when the number of smartphones / super-phones outsell notebooks and desktop sales combined for the calendar year.

Apple will become the most valuable company on the planet

Apple is currently number two on the most valuable list in terms of market capitalization. I anticipate them to continue their growth pace as I don't see them slowing down any time soon, especially if a Verizon iPhone is imminent.  Interesting enough, the company at number three they recently passed as well as the company at number one (ExxonMobil) which they will pass, are both oil companies.

Tablet sales will be in the 50 millions

Tablets are set to explode next year and for good reason. The value of a tablet to consumers is still being fleshed out but early indications are promising. The interesting thing about a tablet is it fulfills a job somewhere between a mobile phone and a notebook. Part of the reason is because it is more mobile than a notebook but not as portable as the smartphone. Also, the device has the ability to be more of a shared computer that anyone can pick up and use rather than one as personal as a notebook or a smart phone. 2011 is certainly poised to see explosive growth in tablets and keep in mind this is only the beginning of this new era of touch computing.

The rise of the personal cloud

Google and Apple will both drive this concept further throughout 2011, primarily because Android and iOS will be the dominant platforms for both tablets and smartphones. Consumers will start gravitating to the personal cloud services offered by both companies. Things like streaming music libraries from the cloud, media archive access and full-featured data synchronization I anticipate being the drivers. This will lead to further customer dependence on the platform. In essence, personal clouds tied specifically to personal devices will make switching less likely.

Verizon will remain the dominant US carrier

There have been many reports that AT&T would surpass Verizon in 2011 as the largest carrier in the US. I don't believe that will be true, and although the iPhone coming to Verizon may be a contributing factor, LTE will be the bigger driver of customers staying loyal to Verizon and new customers switching to Verizon. I also anticipate Verizon getting aggressive with their data pricing options and bundling LTE into tablets and even PCs for corporate accounts.

We will sell more PCs than ever before

I am completely going against the grain on this prediction, since nearly all of my analyst colleagues are predicting PC shipments being anywhere from 15-25% off in 2011. However, I feel PCs will have a banner year next year and here is why. First off, the netbook category will most likely go extinct and netbooks will be counted as PCs not as a separate category. Secondly, consumers have been holding onto their PCs on average 4-5 years. Because of that, I think we will see both consumers and enterprises refresh their notebooks and desktops in 2011. Prices will be down, SSDs will start making PCs more sleek and attractive, and on top of that I think Apple will again set more records for Mac sales in 2011. Lastly, PCs may break into emerging markets like China, India, Brazil and other regions as they have been gaining momentum and are ripe for huge growth. Because of all mentioned above I think we will sell more PCs next year then in any prior year.

Do you have predictions for 2011?  I'd love to hear them, share them below.