By Etha Walters
Here we are in a new year and we have a new President and the challenged economy is at the top of his agenda. However, since nothing changes overnight business will have no choice but to change the way that consumer needs are viewed. Big screen TVs for example were a big trend in 2008 and with everything going digital and the big campaign for high definition people will cut cost of gas, tickets and popcorn of movie going and will stay at home with mail order DVD's and video games. Costs of the big screen have come down considerably and so have the cost of popular video games like the Nintendo and Wii. This is just one of the 2009 predictions of Mark Anderson.
Mark Anderson is chief executive of Strategic News Service, a newsletter circulated to C-level tech executives. Every year he makes predictions in what is to come with technology and just last year he predicted the oncoming of ultra mobile PCs and that is whats hot today.
Mark also says that Tight budgets will also inspire the rise of free or low-cost mobile-phone applications. Many are already $10 dollars or less if not free at Apple's iPhone App Store on iTunes. Other cheap software for consumers are, Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry and the various phones running a mobile operating systems backed by Nokia (NOK), Microsoft, and Google (GOOG). "In terms of innovation and investment and purchase, phone applications are it for 2009," Anderson says. "Apple has already made it clear, and it's going to move out to other smartphones, and it's going to be a huge market."
Smartphones will also be capable of handling ever more complex tasks. Voice recognition will become both powerful, accurate, and common among mobile-phone applications, Anderson says. "After 150 years of waiting, we'll get voice recognition everywhere," he says. Such companies as Vlingo and Nuance (NUAN) will extend their technology into many applications. "By the end of the year, more than a third of mobile users will be using voice recognition without thinking about it," Anderson says.
Anderson says that "Someone is going to design a personal assistantóby that I mean a suite of services, customized just for you, that exists on a server farm," Anderson says. Mobile applications such as AroundMe on the iPhone are already pointing the way. "You already see concierge services that tell you, when you land in a foreign city, what the cultural events are in that city, and get tickets for them, and things like that," he says.
Anderson says the assistant technology would use tools that track consumer preferences to know what is needed, such as preferences when you travel, all triggered by short messages from the user saying something like "business trip, Los Angeles" or "family vacation Miami." It might really come in handy when you need to rent a laptop or projector for a conference you are attending and you can just have it set up to take care of it for you so your technology needs are waiting for you at your destination. "You would say, give me a business visit, give me a fun visit, give me a family visit, and it would know what that means." And it all could be done from your mobile phone.
Anderson makes it clear that 2009 is going to be about the development of wireless capabilities from computers to smart phones to keep you on the go. It is all about communications. Speaking of communications I also dug up a study that show that social media is going to evolve into a more strategic tool.
After obtaining smart phones and lightweight laptops to keep us on the go the next step is networking. Myspace ushered in a new way of networking and it was all about how many myspace friends you have. In 2009 expect more businesses to use social media as a way to communicate with customers. Websites, emails and newsletters are still important but the more people you know will generate constant traffic to your sites and introduce who you are to your consumers.
For example, Twitter will become more commonly known and people will start to use it to receive information from businesses they want to keep in touch with. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding connections, but users often under-utilize it because people just aren't familiar with it yet.
Also in 2009 companies will take advantage of lower cost cameras and produce low cost video production and sharing of those videos on free or low cost membership sites such as YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo and Blip.tv. Video can be a powerful marketing tool. Video can complement a blog, email newsletter or Facebook page quite nicely.
Video Conference Solutions Expand even though Cisco's Tele Presence is too expensive for many small businesses, there are video conferencing solutions to consider that are a lot cheaper but feature rich. The majority of these solutions include software and a web camera and communicate over the Internet.
The bottom line for 2009 is that technology is going to be more accessible to consumers and while there is a lot to keep consumers at home, technology still encourages those who need to stay on the go.