TechRadar's 2010 technology predictions

1st Jan 2010 | 10:00

TechRadar's 2010 technology predictions

What we're looking forward to over the next 12 months

Mobile phones, Google and Microsoft

As the turkey begins to finally run out and the hangovers subside, it's time for the TechRadar team to dream about the tech we expect to see emerge over the next 12 months.

Whatever this new year holds, we won't have to wait long until we see the first fruits. The Consumer Electronics Show starts next Wednesday in Las Vegas – so expect new kit aplenty.

First, let's look at what we expect to happen in mobile phones during 2010. "It's the beginning of the end for the featurephone, those pretty but less functional handsets," says mobile phone specialist Gareth Beavis. "It's not that the segment is dying, rather that it's re-inventing itself as part of the smartphone revolution, meaning more applications for everyone."

"Samsung's pledge to use Bada, which brings smartphone capabilities to cheaper handsets, on its lower end range shows that the soon-to-be world's biggest phone manufacturer wants to see smartphones in the hands of many more people, with the rest of the industry set to follow suit too."

Windows Mobile gets good?

We'll also see one of the internet's worst kept secrets confirmed: "Windows Mobile 7 will arrive during Mobile World Congress in February," says TechRadar's Editor (Reviews and Features) Paul Douglas.

"Microsoft will back down on internal marketing plans to tout it as 'the funnest phone ever' and instead advertise it with a line like 'your phone connects you to the people and programs you love', or 'your phone, simplified'. It won't feature an ad campaign that says 'I'm a phone and Windows Mobile 7 was my idea' because the idea of many Windows Mobile 6 users was to defect to Android or iPhone."

But will Windows Mobile 7 finally bring in the missing piece – an interface that's pleasurable to use and that doesn't send handset makers such as HTC rushing to build their own interface on top?

"Leaked mock-ups suggest Microsoft has got it right, though Android 2.0 and a new iPhone in 2010 will raise the bar still higher," believes Paul. "I own a Windows Mobile phone and I've joked to my smug iPhone-toting friends that I'm holding out for Windows Mobile 9 – Android handsets are looking really compelling at the moment and I'm so starting to worry about doing just that."

A big year for Google

While 2010 still won't be the year when Google's mobile OS ends up on handsets left, right and centre, 2010 is certain to be a huge year for Google. And not just in mobiles - Google OS will truly set the cat among the pigeons.

"We'll see a bunch of Google OS netbooks arrive in the second half of 2010 and the tech press will gasp and complain because they don't retail at a Google-We're-Not-Evil price point (ie 50 pence each)," says TechRadar's Deputy Editor Dan Grabham.

"Questions will be raised about netbooks that can't run desktop apps such as Outlook and Photoshop and there will be stories about people returning Google OS netbooks to the stores because they thought they had bought a 'real computer' and ended up with a big, bulky Twitter status updater."

Gareth believes Google OS will present "a great opportunity for cross platform functionality with a big dollop of cloud computing to boot."

But unlike Linux netbooks, which didn't exactly set the world on fire, by 2015 we'll probably all own a netbook that runs Google OS. And maybe, just maybe, we'll have found a use for Google Wave on them by then.

What about 3D TV?

3D? Yes, but not too much in 2010

So is next year going to see an explosion of 3D in the home? Not according to TechRadar's Reviews Editor James Rivington. "I'm sure that many people are predicting 2010 to be a massive year for 3D. But I'd forecast the exact opposite," he explains. "I think 2010 is much more likely to be yet another year when 3D completely fails to capture the public imagination."

"Sure, 3D is starting to do well in theatres. And yes, Sky has said it will launch 3D TV for the UK. But if we see even a 0.1 per cent market penetration for 3D in the HDTV market I'll be amazed. Do you really want to be wearing 3D glasses when watching TV in the evenings? I know I don't. There will be small range of 3D-ready sets to come out from the likes of LG, and a new batch of laptops with 3D screens, but we're talking about tiny quantities in the scheme of things."

But not everyone on the team agrees. Although he feels like he's been saying it every year, Patrick Goss, TechRadar's Editor (News) feels like 2010 will still be a big year for 3D. "Not only will we be able to take stock of how this year's Avatar performed at the box office, says Patrick, but we can also expect a raft of 3D-capable televisions at CES and, of course, the promise of a 3D channel from Sky."

"The broadcaster has already been busy learning how to film live sporting events (and ballet too) and we'll hopefully soon see the fruits of its labour on our TVs – and whether they can convince the public to fork out for the technology."

HD and wireless tech

So if not 3D, what does James think will happen in 2010 for TVs? "I think the big change for television in 2010 is much more likely to be the prevalence of HD," believes James. "There are millions of HD TVs out there now, and with the imminent launch of Freeview HD and the unprecedented success of Freesat, 2010 will definitely be the year that HD content is properly embraced by the British public. And that can only mean good things for Blu-ray, too." Maybe we'll also see some OLED sets appear too?

And talking of HD, could next year see wireless high definition coming to the fore? "2010 is going to be the year when cables become that little bit more redundant," says News Writer Marc Chacksfield. "We will see more and more TVs and other gadgets come sans wires, with Full HD images piped wirelessly through the home thanks to a recent announcement by the LLC over its wireless home standard."

"And when it comes to getting on to the web, TVs and the like are quickly doing away with unsightly Ethernet cables of yore and snapping up Wi-Fi like nobody's business," says Marc.

"Couple this with the popularity of gadgets like the Powermat, which do away the need of tethering your devices like a bad-mannered mutt, and what we'll have is a future where our gadgets go all Pinocchio on us."

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