From the amount of column inches the subject has generated over the last few months, I think most people know that we are in the midst of a serious cyber battle. The battle, fiercely fought by the biggest of the tech big boys – Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook – is to take up our time, our mouse clicks, our networks and, most importantly, our personal information.
Ah December. The season to be jolly. And to make ludicrously inaccurate predictions for the year ahead, of course. It seems to me that under the guise of ‘predictions’, most of the soothsaying blog posts that appear at the end of the year read more like Christmas wishes and are more about what the author wants to happen, than what is likely to happen. So, we’ll try to avoid the ‘wishlist’ approach and come up with our 10 predictions for communications in 2010 – but we can’t deny there’s a bit of wishing about some of them (well, if December isn’t a time for wishes, then when is?). So here goes, in no particular order, our Ten in 2010 predictions are:
Social search becomes the norm: For the past ten years, web search has been dominated by Google. When we’ve been in need of anything, from toilet paper to travel advice, we’ve asked Google’s reliable algorithm. In 2010, we’ll see the current ‘hot topic’ of social search become a social norm for all web users. I already ask for recommendations on Twitter before I search on Google in a number of circumstances – particularly if it involves making a purchase – and the recent and ongoing changes to Facebook make crowdsourcing a recommendation or solution much easier. Google.com will always bring more results (and lovely, accurate ones), but recommendations bring with them so much more: trust, peace-of-mind and quite often a witty quip thrown in. That’s probably why Google is testing out its own amazing social search product in Google labs. It’s all a bad sign for SEO companies as they lose their grip on search – especially when you see Google personalised search take hold too. I guess we’ll see the continued growth of SMO as opposed to traditional SEO as well.
Apple changes the way we read: Okay, not just Apple, but touch-screen tablets like the one they’re planning to launch. TechCrunch have written about producing one, and a number of other manufacturers are rumoured to be working on products. Essentially, tablets fill the gap between a smartphone and a notebook – providing a convenient way to browse web pages, read documents or even watch movies on the move. They also potentially spell disaster for products like Amazon’s Kindle. However, there could be business benefits also. What if you were to show up to meetings with tablets for those taking part – allowing participants to view bespoke presentations, or slide notes, or creative design options? They could zoom and scroll through a design as they wish, while the presentation covers the key points. Okay, it sounds complicated and expensive, but we’re just excited about what will no doubt be a nice shiny new toy from Apple.
Apple's tablet will arrive in 2010 and change the handheld computing landscape
“I have a stream”: 2009 has seen the emergence from the shadows of a number of lifestreams – with Tumblr, Friendfeed (recently bought by Faceboook) and Posterous making the most noise. Technically, Posterous has moved the lifestream on from being an aggregator of social content, to a syndicator as well – which is where the true potential of these services can be seen. As such, 2010 will see more and more ‘aggregator/syndicator’ apps appearing, and more and more people using them. Updating Posterous can automatically update your Twitter account, Facebook profile, blog, Flickr profile and more. It’s quick, easy, and simple. You can even just send it an email and the content appears everywhere. As people develop more social media identities they need a place to keep them. Having to access dozens of websites, desktop apps or even phone apps to keep things up-to-date is a massive hassle. Posterous and its ilk are already successfully catering for a need that will grow exponentially in 2010.
Augmented reality becomes a reality: We love augmented reality (AR) at Manifest. There are obviously amazing benefits it can bring, but our main reason for loving it is it feels like something from Back to the Future II. And if you haven’t seen the Google Goggles video already you’re in for a treat. AR has arrived quicker than expected really, and the pace of development looks set to continue. Bionic Eye and Tube Deluxe are the AR apps in my iPhone arsenal, but the opportunities for brands are there for all to see. Imagine a gym where you look at a machine and are given a tutorial, for example, or pointing your iPhone app at a packet of crisps to get a calorie count/CO2 impact/price comparison.
Augmented Reality (AR) is not only like living in Back to the Future II - it actually works
Wave says hello:Google Wave is here already. But not really. In 2010 we expect it to start making a big impact, although a mass switchover from email is pie in the sky yet. Wave has loads of benefits for businesses and collaborators, but we’ve not seen them yet because most of us don’t have any contacts on there. In 2010, the early adopters will get to grips with what promises to change the way we communicate online. If this post were a wave, for instance, you could comment on each prediction underneath the actual paragraph you’re commenting on. I could then ‘rewind’ the post to see how the comments have been added over time, and the final Wave would be a collaborative effort – not just my work. It’s really pretty cool – and in 2010 we’ll start to see why. Hopefully we’ll all get some more invitations as well.
In 2009 - we were all waving with ourselves. 2010 will see wave unleashed.
Twitter already has the space to add contextual ads
Adding context to Twitter: We predict contextual advertising will finally make its way onto Twitter in 2010. This year saw the introduction of where the ads will likely run – in the top right of the page as pictured – so they won’t be invasive if they do arrive. By making ads relevant to the twitterstream they won’t just relate to an individual, but to their precise activities that day. Everyone keeps talking about ‘how twitter will make money’ but there are so many ways they can make it without affecting the service, I think we’ll see people get bored of that question as Twitter continues to thrive.
Paying won’t pay:Murdoch’s idea that online content should be paid for will be proved unworkable. At least in the UK. As long as the BBC exists, nobody will be able to charge their UK readership successfully – which to be honest, is great. A lot of people talk about not wanting to pay the license fee to fund the 25th series of 2 pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps – but they forget the money goes to genuinely pioneering online resources such as iPlayer. There are plenty of ways for media to monetize their content (such as affiliate links and freemium content privileges) but so far it’s not worked – but nor will making people pay for something they can get for free elsewhere. The Huffington Post only flourished because newspapers began charging for their online content, don’t forget. We predict many publishers will start charging, people will stop using, then many publishers will stop charging.
Paying for content is about as popular as Gordon Brown
Social media agencies will struggle: We’ve said already on this blog that dedicated social media gencies shouldn’t exist, and in 2010 we predict that unfortunately the dedicated social media agency will begin to struggle and we’ll see the launch of new dedicated agencies slowing. This is because they’ll be competing with PR and marketing agencies increasingly able to match their expertise in social media, whilst coupling it with skills across the broader media mix. Ooh, we’re getting a bit controversial now.
Fonts for the memories: Now for some designery predictions from Martin in the creative studio. According to the Chinese, 2009 was the year of the Ox, but for Manifest, it was the year of Helvetica. We predict that 2010 will be the year of…. Helvetica. Again. Cos it always is. But maybe things will change. We think TheSans, Kievet, DIN fonts will probably pop up more next year (DIN has been the best seller at Fontshop 3 years running, so we’re not exactly out on a limb here). Oh, and we predict there will be more and more websafe fonts used for logotypes, following IKEA’s recent switch to Verdana from Futura. If you ask us, it’s not a good example to follow – it’s just a bit lazy.
Could Helvetica's reign be over? Nah. Probably not.
Okay – so that’s our ten for 2010. What do you think? Don’t be shy – let us know if you think we’re talking nonsense – or if there’s something we’ve missed (although be fair, we were restricted to ten).