Home 5 Key Trends of 2010: Half-Year Report for The Web

5 Key Trends of 2010: Half-Year Report for The Web

It’s now a little over 6 months into 2010, so a good time to reflect on the highlights of the year so far. At the beginning of the year, we identified some key trends to track: (in alphabetical order) Augmented Reality, Internet of Things, Mobile, Real-Time Web, Structured Data.

Mobile and Real-Time Web have been particularly eventful in 2010, as you’ll see below. Augmented Reality and Internet of Things are both early stage trends, but have continued to edge towards the mainstream this year. The movement towards Structured Data has made significant progress in 2010, primarily thanks to RDFa and the adoption of that Semantic Web format by Facebook, Google and other big companies.


The next generation of the iPhone operating system, iPhone OS 4, was launched in April – it included long-awaited support for multitasking. That was followed by the June release of iPhone 4, the new handset.

However, it hasn’t all been about the iPhone this year. Perhaps even more notable (although less hyped) has been the continued growth and expansion of Google’s Android competitor. It started in January, when Google announced the new Nexus One. Google described it as “Where Web Meets Phone” and called it a “super phone” (ok, so there was hype there too…). Android, Google’s mobile OS, has also experienced strongmarket share growth this year.

The biggest news of the year, though, has undoubtedly been Apple announcing the iPad in late January. This led to a flurry of new apps and a revival of interest in digital magazines.

In terms of non-device innovation, much of the attention has been on location-based social networking services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Brightkite.

While all three were popular during the annual geekfest in Austin, SXSW Interactive, by the half-year mark Foursquare appears to have the most momentum.

Real-Time Web

Twitter and Facebook have dominated the Real-Time Web landscape so far in 2010. Facebook has been under pressure for its controversial privacy changes (that is, more and more of Facebook is being made public), yet it continues to grow market share. Meanwhile Twitter has become more well-known in the mainstream, on the back of news such as Michael Jackson’s passing and huge events like the World Cup.

Google tried to get in on the real-time action in February, with the launch of a media sharing service called Google Buzz. Buzz was mostly a damp squib, however. More successful for Google was its integration of Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and other real-time results into its core search product.

There have been some interesting startups to emerge in this space over 2010. For example, Quoraa real-time enabled Q&A site created by Facebook’s first CTO Adam D’Angelo. Other products to have caught our eye this year include Collecta, OneRiot, My6Sense and SuperFeedr.

Internet of Things

Internet of Things is when real-world objects are connected to the Internet, often via sensors, barcodes and RFID tags. This was a trend we began exploring in earnest in 2009, when much of the applications were experimental.

In 2010 we’ve seen commercial applications begin to arise, starting at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. The main trend we noticed from this CES was web applications being ported to consumer electronics – everything from the technology inside cars to Web-enabled TVs.

Many of our posts on Internet of Things this year have been explanatory, to help you prepare for the expected increase in commercial applications over the next few years. Check out our post on sensors and mobile phones for an example. Also find out why HP thinks sensors will lead to the next big wave of computing.

Augmented Reality

The field of AR has been similarly experimental up till now, so we have again spent a lot of time explaining this trend and putting it in context. An example is Austrian company Wikitude bringing augmented “Worlds” to the iPhone, in February. A wider audience saw AR in April, when the Discovery Channel promoted its docu-drama hit Deadliest Catch with a desktop-based AR ad campaign.

Augmented Reality was a hot topic at the RWW Mobile Summit, in May in Mountain View, CA. Photo: Chris Cameron

Structured Data

If 2009 was the year of “open data” (when previously offline data is uploaded to the Web), then 2010 so far has been the year of RDFa. RDFa is a lightweight way to add extra meaning to HTML web pages. Facebook is using it in their Open Graph platform, which was announced in April. The stated goal of the Open Graph protocol is to enable publishers to “integrate [their] Web pages into the social graph.”

Others that have climbed on board the structured data train include Google and retailers like Best Buy and Tesco. Twitter hasn’t yet supported RDFa, but its Twitter Annotations project comes close.

The open data movement also continues to expand. In January, Data.gov.uk, a new web site dedicated to making non-personal data held by the U.K. government available for software developers, launched with the help of Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

You can see that 2010 has been very active with innovation! The iPad, new mobile devices, the increasing market penetration of Facebook and Twitter, the rise of the Semantic Web – it’s been a fascinating year so far! In the comments, let us know your personal highlight of 2010 so far.

Lead image: Steve Rhodes

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