Digital Media and Technology Trends for 2011
In 2010, we witnessed a number of important developments in the world of digital media and technology. The iPad became the first commercially successful tablet, a new type of computer security threat appeared, and Facebook grew to over 500 million users, just to name a few. As 2011 arrives, here are trends I will be keeping an eye on.
- Apps in the Living Room: An increasing number of televisions are connected to the internet. Many of these have pre-installed applications to access YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, and other popular services. Internet connected television platforms from Boxee, Google, Yahoo, LG, and others make it possible for viewers to install additional applications by browsing app directories or bookmarking TV optimized websites. It is an open question of which “lean back” apps will prove popular with consumers. In the next twelve months we will have a better idea of the types of apps that are right for living room versus those that are better suited for single users on a PC or mobile device.
- Further Definition of the New Music Industry: Overall, the music business will continue its ongoing process of consolidation. The notion of owning music in the form of a CD or a digital download will continue to erode, particularly for Generation Y, being replaced by cloud driven subscription models. Internet data driven charts such as those powered by BigChampagne and the Echonest will rise in influence as sales and airplay based charts lose relevance. Many of my thoughts are echoed in this Hypebot interview with Music 3.0 author Bobby Owsinski.
- Interactive Retail: In 2010, shoppers used smartphones to compare prices, earn coupons, and even make purchases. This trend was encouraged by services like Foursquare, SCVNGR, and the use of QR Codes, Microsoft Tag, and other visual barcode systems. As smartphone ownership continues to increase in 2011, marketers and advertisers will further use these technologies to bring new levels of interactivity to the retail experience. We can expect more companies to offer custom applications similar to this one from the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurant chain.
- More Tablets: By all accounts, the iPad was an enormous success. This year more Android based tablets are expected to be released along with ones from Blackberry and Palm. With a new iPad being released this year, competing tablets must be aggressively priced and provide compelling app offerings to gain significant market share.
- 3D Backlash: 3D was heavily pushed by the film and consumer electronics industries this past year. There was an over abundance of 3D film releases in 2010, and a number exhibited poorly implemented stereoscopic effects. Consequently, movie goers will be more reluctant to pay extra to see a film in 3D. Though 3D capable televisions were touted to consumers, there is a lack of 3D content for these devices. Unless the content availability issue is resolved, 3D television will be of interest to only the very early adopters.
- Kinect Hacks: For years, researchers have utilized computer vision to build gesture based interfaces. An excellent example is seen in the M.I.T. Media Lab’s Smart Rooms projects in the 1990’s. Depth sensing cameras could cost in the $30,000 range, a price which prevented many developers from exploring this area of interface design. The Microsoft Kinect is an amazing piece of hardware in that it provides a highly functional depth sensing camera system for only $150.00. Realizing its potential, hobbyists and researchers have quickly built up a thriving Kinect hacking community in similar fashion to what occurred with the release of the Wii. With open source efforts now springing up to support the Kinect, this community will continue to thrive and innovate in 2011. Their work will hopefully inspire and guide the design of innovative gesture driven games and applications for the mass market.