2011 Predictions: Richard MacManus

Over December we’ve reviewed the top Web products and developments of 2010. Now it’s time to look ahead to 2011. The ReadWriteWeb team is always thinking about what’s next, so in our final series of 2010 we attempt to predict the big stories of 2011.

Predictions are of course a tricky business. The braver the predictions, the more risk of them not coming true! Without further ado, here are my predictions for 2011 – 5 serious and 1 not so serious.



1: Flipboard becomes the breakout news reading app of 2011. With its latest round of updates in December, Flipboard introduced Google Reader and made some significant changes to sharing and navigation. I expect Flipboard to introduce more such upgrades in 2011 and begin to expand to other devices than the iPad. These moves will push Flipboard into becoming a very popular app to browse, curate and share news each day. It won’t usurp Google Reader for curating and sharing activities, simply because Google Reader can be used on the PC. However for mobile surfing, which will be an increasingly important way to browse news in 2011, Flipboard will rule in curating and sharing of media.

ReadWriteWeb’s 2011 Predictions:

2: eBooks will hit 20% market penetration by the end of 2011. In 2010, the Association of American Publishers reported that eBooks made up 9.03% of total consumer book sales – compared to 3.31% at the close of 2009. I’m predicting this growth to rocket in 2011, thanks to a plentiful supply of cheap eReaders and a long overdue price war on eBooks between Amazon, Barnes&Noble and others. I predict it will reach 20%, in other words one in five books in 2011 will be sold as an eBook. If that bold prediction comes true, it will be great news for book consumers and will silence eBook skeptics about the future of eBooks. Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting paper books will go away, just that eBooks become much more popular and utilized.

3: Internet of Cars will be the surprise hit of the year. This year we saw further commercialization of services that connect everyday objects to the Internet. In 2011, I predict that cars (not smart homes, smart grids, etc.) will be where the most innovation and mainstream attention happens for Internet of Things technologies. Apps like AutoBot will gain traction over 2011.

4: Internet TV tips and gets huge consumer uptake. In 2010 there was a lot of progress in this sector: Apple TV re-design, Google TV, Boxee, Roku, Clicker and other developments. Most of this activity was largely experimental though, in that no one vendor got the formula quite right. For example, the launch problems of Google TV at the end of this year. However in 2011, consumers will flock to these products as they mature and more Internet TV content is made available – particularly in the U.S. market, but hopefully to international markets too.

Picking a breakout product is difficult, as each of the main players offers something different. I don’t think there will be a breakout product, although Google has the broadest capabilities and so it has the potential to become one if it gets the product right. I predict that Google won’t dominate this market though; and neither will Apple.

5: A major pop music star will do something amazing with web technologies, that blows open the online music scene. Arcade Fire set the scene in 2010, with their experimental collaboration with Google on an HTML5-fueled interactive video. In 2011, I expect an even bigger star – someone innovative like Kanye West or Lady Gaga, or a totally new star – to do something that re-defines what music means online. That could be something new in a live show, a music video, or something completely unexpected. To get more specific, I’ll bet on something that blends a live album with internet technologies – which sells unexpectedly well and thus sets a trend in the music industry.

6: Bonus prediction: by the end of 2011, the most viewed YouTube video of all time will no longer be Justin Bieber. Instead it will be a collaboration between an unknown comedian and a breakout new baby. I’m envisaging a combination of comedy tap dancing and baby giggling (perhaps recorded using an auto-tune device). Yes, 2011 will mark the return of viral comedy and laughing babies to the top of the YouTube charts – this time as a duet!

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