2010 Tech Trends: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Headed

2010 was a fascinating and fast-paced year for tech. Some trends that have been around for a while reached the tipping point this year, and some new trends are emerging that will dominate 2011.

eBooks and eBook readers

The price for an eBook reader dropped significantly this year. The number of device choices expanded. And the number of books available in that format grew and grew and grew.

Anyone who has the capability to buy an eBook instead of a printed copy is choosing that as the preferred option. There are several reasons for this, among them lower price, instant delivery, and lightweight portability for a reader’s entire library.

I see the eBook market continuing to expand as more and more users turn to digital delivery for all kinds of reading material.

Internet TV

This trend hit hard this year, and I think it’s going to continue to grow. Players like Apple TV, Google TV, Netflix and others have gone from interesting outliers to mainstream. Getting TV shows and movies from what used to be standard sources like cable and satellite subscriptions may become a phenomena of the dusty past. You can stream movies from Netflix to your iPhone!

Of course, you still need a broadband internet connection to your home to use gadgets like an Apple TV, but as Just The Right Things points out, it’s a gadget the whole family can love.



HTML is the code that is used to markup web page content into headings and paragraphs and lists and such. A lot of geeky drama went into getting HTML5 to the point where it is now – which is a still incomplete set of specs for creating web content. This year, some big players started investing time and development cycles into using HTML5 and making it work on the web. Apple announced it won’t use Flash on the iPad – which translates into using HTML5 video elements instead.

That’s a big ouchie for Adobe, the maker of Flash.

Google announced it supports HTML5 and posted some cool demos at HTML5Rocks. High traffic websites got retuned to run HTML5 with lots of hoopla around the changes. Most browsers are implementing support for HTML5 in at least some ways. Tech bloggers, like myself, are talking about HTML5 daily. HTML5 is important to developers for mobile and mobile apps, too. In spite of the fact that it’s still changing and isn’t going to be an “official” spec for quite a while, HTML5 is going to be rocking the tech world for quite a while.

Facebook: Too Big to Fail?

In spite of all its flaws and all its privacy fails, Facebook now has over half a billion users. It expands and expands like some feature-eating swamp thing that will eventually envelop the entire planet.

Everything that could be considered social media – chat, email, multi-player games, status updates, blogging, file sharing, location based features, photo sharing – is part of Facebook. As soon as a new idea for social networking pops up, Facebook adds it to its feature set.

It’s. Just. Huge.

It’s even a movie. See reviews on Women and Hollywood, Gender Across Borders, and Tennessee Guerilla Women.

Here’s my prediction: for the next year, at least, Facebook is going to continue to grow.

Cloud Computing

Gmail, Flickr, Google Docs, Delicious, Dropbox, Blogspot, WordPress.com – your data, your work, your backups – but not on your hard drive. That’s the cloud, baby. Resources, software, and information somewhere out there in Internetland and separate from your computer. Accessible from any computer or mobile device. You and your information are now device and location independent. What could be more useful in today’s world? Not much, which is why the trend is growing.

Grabbing for Groupon

The localized discount coupon service Groupon exploded this year. Everybody wants to save money and the local savings deals from Groupon are often over 50% off on things like restaurant meals and services. Groupon deals sizzle like flies to honey, like moths to a flame – big savings entices.

Groupon got so big, Google is trying to buy it for $6 billion. Groupon said no, at least for the moment. Whether Groupon stays independent or gets swallowed up by something bigger, services like this are going to grow in the next year.

Mobile apps: smart phones and tablet computing

Smart phone adoption shows no sign of slowing down. It’s penetrating every corner of the globe. In some countries, there are more mobile devices than people. Phones with apps continue to get hotter and hotter everywhere you look.

Tablets don’t make phone calls, but they run software and are eBook readers. The portability and connectivity offered by tablets achieves many of the same benefits as users get from smart phones, only with a bigger screen. Perfect for games and watching video.

Having the Internet in your pocket with a device running mobile apps is a trend that is not slowing in the next year.

What trends do you see that I overlooked? Where do you think we’re headed with tech?

Cross-posted at BlogHer in a slightly different version.

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