The other day I received a marketing email from a well respected analyst firm which I consider to be quite ahead in the area of social media. The firm was promoting its upcoming social commerce event. My area of focus now is the supply chain so the event doesn’t have direct relevance to me but nonetheless it is quite interesting–how will/should retailers and manufacturers respond to the shopper’s desire to have a personalized experience and what role will mobile technologies play. One item stood out to me and its not just this email that falls victim to focusing on one particular mobile platform.

The iPhone is without doubt an amazing device built on a solid, user-friendly platform (though you may need to stand on your head with only 2 fingers holding the phone to stay connected). It receives the most hype. As Dana Blankenhorn highlights in “Android Froyo and Why it Matters“, traditional media and bloggers jump hoops to cover any Apple announcement but seem to ignore the the developments of other platforms such as Android, Blackberry, WebOs, WinMo, and the number one OS on mobile phone, Symbian.

In no way do I discredit the importance of iOS4 and the opportunities it presents to retailers, manufactuers, service providers, etc. If you look at the combination of these operating systems, the total potential for mobile social commerce is amazing. In the U.S. alone, more than 41 million people use a smartphone (RIM still holds a commanding lead with 41.7 percent of the market). In the first quarter of 2010, more than 54 million smartphones were shipped worldwide, according to research firm IDC. From the chart below, it is clear there is more than one player.

Is the media creating an unnecessary hype that is detracting from the greater market potential or will developers overlook the hype and see the potential in the other platforms? My guess is the developer community looks beyond the hype to see the actual revenue potential available to them. In the end, this could be a three-legged race between RIM, Apple and Android. WinMo 7 definitely looks impressive but I don’t know if it really has the legs to compete, especially if what I have read about BlackBerry 6 and the shift to appease the consumer market is true.

How does this relate to PR you ask? Well, I have seen many fancy proposals and ideas surrounding campaigns and app development focused on one platform. Be aware fellow PR folks, a multi-platform/channel strategy is what you need to truly reach the mass market.

Full disclosure: I own an HTC Droid Incredible and love the device. Personally, I am all about Android but professionally I see there is a need to target multiple audiences to gain the maximum impact.

Technology is in a state of constant change. Always advancing. Simplifying yet complicating our lives at the same time. Predicting what will happen in the tech industry is next to impossible. Heck, by Hollywood standards we should all be conversing with HAL (for almost 10 years). Clearly, HAL is quite a ways off and I certainly do not see us flying around on interstellar missions anytime soon.

So, what does technology hold for us in 2010? Well, I’ve scoured the net looking for some of the predictions I find the most fascinating, off the wall or that just plain make sense. Anyone who knows me knows that I just can’t talk about technology (or really anything) without putting forth my own opinion. So, here are 5 thoughts from me. I then provide several links to stories and reports that cover more predictions and probably have more data than I to back them up.

In the meantime, if you have some of your own predictions, we would love to hear about them.

Cloud Computing, SaaS, Hosted Services, pick your name. SaaS is everywhere, and while the hype has been around for a really long time, it looks as though SaaS gained more than just air time in 2009. 2010 could be the year it becomes legit. I remember when I first got into telecom and there were ASPs popping up left and right touting the benefits of the hosted application model. Unfortunately for them, the market wasn’t ready. It appears now, more than a decade later, companies are willing to hand over control and procure software and services off-premise.

Green/Sustainability. Regardless of your views on the global warming debate, the movement to develop and implement green technology is about more than just saving our planet, it’s about the money that can be saved and made. This is why I see the green topic keeping its momentum. Companies who are going green are saving a lot of money in reduced energy consumption. They are making money as consumers are lured by the idea of green products. Investments in green tech start ups will continue as the market asks for more ways to reduce energy consumption and stay ahead of government regulations.

Mobile Wars Heat Up. As the launch of the unlocked Google phone nears, AT&T and Verizon continue to argue about which is better–3G coverage or 3G experience, and Sprint decides what to do with itself (hopefully not merge with T-Mobile), the wireless industry is going to become even more competitive with even greater focus on devices, applications and the almighty enterprise dollar. Will Android or iPhone make significant inroads on Blackberry in the enterprise? It is hard to think this industry can become more cut-throat but I think they have quite a bit more in them, especially when you throw in WiMax and providers touting alternative high-speed wireless services.

Online Content Remains Free. Against the best efforts by several publishers, consumers will reject the notion that one has to pay for online content. It has happened before and it will happen again. The idea the Internet is free is one that will not be easily broken, especially in a down economy.

Social Media. The social media scene will continue to grow as more people discover its abilities. This will lead to the need for even more powerful (and paid for) tools that help us manage the vast amount of information streaming from multiple networks. Some will get completely lost in the noise while others identify how to build awareness and develop a conversation through social media.

Crystal Ball Resource Center

Not the First, Not the Last, Technology Predictions for 2010 – Carmi Levy’s smirky (which is probably why I liked reading the story) look at 2010

Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2010

IDC’s Top 10 Predictions

5 Predictions for Enterprise Technology in 2010 – Miko Matsumura’s SOA Center

Lundquist’s 10 Tech Strategies for Building a Successful Business in 2010

Will 2010 bring a wake-up call for cybersecurity? – Federal Computer Week’s Rutrell Yasin’s look at security and the government

2010 Technology Preview – A look at the upcoming developments in the mainstream PC market

Have links you would like to add? Let me know and I can add them to the list.

chrome os

Google announced plans Wednesday to enter the operating system business with a new product called Google Chrome OS, an open source project intended for netbook PCs. Details are sketchy, but it appears that a windowing system based on the Google Chrome Web browser will run on top of a Linux kernel and function as the user interface and application loader.

Like many others, I was excited at first. For one, my phone has Android, Google’s mobile OS, which I find more user friendly and capable than Windows Mobile or Blackberry OS. But, after the initial buzz wore off, I was left with a few unanswered questions, the biggest of which was “Why?”

Due to its open source status, the cost of Google Chrome OS would be quite low, even for large scale enterprise implementations. So, given Google’s array of consumer web applications aimed at businesses as well as individuals, the Chrome OS could be designed to encourage a massive shift toward cloud computing, thereby increasing Google’s revenues. But what if that’s not the only reason?

The Wall Street Journal points out that Google now challenges Microsoft in virtually all of its core businesses. With an impressive roster of hardware partners for Chrome OS announced Thursday, is it possible Google thinks their new operating system can win a fight with the Windows giant on its home turf?

Maybe they do. Maybe they can. But, it’s unlikely to happen. With Windows 7 available in stores on October 22featuring good-old Windows familiarity and some sleek new features like advanced touchscreen support, Microsoft will continue to dominate the netbook OS market.

There is also reason to be cautious about the impact Google Chrome OS will have on Google’s bottom line.On Monday, Microsoft is expected to announce the release of Office Web, the long-awaited and much-anticipated cloud-based companion to the tremendously popular MS Office suite. According to Gartner research published by The Wall Street JournalMicrosoft already owns 94 percent of the office suite market. When you take into account the lack of features available in Google Docs and its general lack of compatibility with other office suites, Office Web’s promise of a seamless transition between cloud and PC is sure to take some wind out of Google’s sales.

There seem to be quite a few hurdles stacking up against Google. But they have to know and understand the challenge ahead of them and have an answer. Will it change computing as we know it? I don’t think it will happen overnight, but if Google presses forward with a cloud OS, you can bet others will follow and the landscape will change forever.

Do you or your company use Google Apps? If so, what do you like about them? In light of the impending Office Web Beta, will you be staying with Google?

UPDATE 7/13/2009: As predicted, Microsoft unveiled Office 2010 BETA at its Worldwide Partner Conference this morning. This updated version of the immensely popular office suite comes with a slew of new features, including free Web-based versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote. For screenshots and additional information, check out The Complete Guide to Microsoft Office 2010 at TechCrunch.

wind power

The 38th Earth Day (4.54 billionth if you really want to get technical) has come and gone. Have we learned anything new? In the past few years, you could not open a newspaper, magazine, trade publication, or flip the channel without someone talking about how they were greening it up. Unfortunately, 2009 has not seen nearly as much interest, thanks in most part to the economic mess we are stuck in. On the bright side, a lot of momentum has begun in the past couple of years that has carried through into 2009, and with stimulus funding directed at green projects, one can only hope more is to come.

Here are some of the technologies I find most interesting. Please leave a comment and let us know what technologies you find most interesting that could really help our environment.

Smart Grid
smartgridthinkingOur current electrical grid is 112 years old. This century-old technology is now giving way to the digital era as cities such as Boulder, CO and Austin, TX, flip a new kind of switch. Most recently, the Miami Smart Grid Initiative, a partnership between Cisco, GE and Florida Power & Light, has gained a lot of media attention. The debate is quite interesting on the effectiveness of the Smart Grid, but with stimulus money set aside, this area of technology is likely to see quite a of investment and hopefully, more deployment.  Maybe it’s my inner geek coming out, but I want to have more control over my energy usage, see how my family can cut back and save some money. Want to learn more? Check out the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid resource site at http://www.oe.energy.gov/smartgrid.htm.

L.E.D.
blue-ledThe incandescent bulb is fading fast and many countries have proposed outlawing bulbs of certain wattages, further speeding the 130 year old light bulb’s demise. In the past few years, CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs) have become the rage. I’ve even changed every bulb in our house to CFLs in hopes of saving some money. While CFLs do use less money and last longer (be careful of the cheapy ones that burn out quickly), they also contain a lot of mercury and the environmental groups have pounced on this. In comes L.E.D., or Light Emitting Diode. These contain no mercury, use even less power (as little as 7.5 watts) and last upwards of 10 years. So where are they? Not in too many places yet (traffic lights and the super bright flashlights and headlights are good examples of their power) because the costs are so high. A traditional residential replacement bulb currently sells for $120 and there are some teething problems. However, the potential this technology has and the fact prices should come down in the next few years has me really excited this could be a truly eco-friendly lighting solution.

Renewable Power
underwater-powerI recently saw a program highlighting three groups around the world and their quests to harness the power of the oceans. From turbines in the Hudson River tolong cylinders that float a few miles off the coast, there are many creative technologies to better utilize the Earth’s largest natural resource. In my opinion, this has to be one of the most exciting and innovative areas in eco-tech. Wind power, solar, algae as a fuel, hydrogen – there are limitless possibilities.

Cell phones, iPods, computers, gaming systems, you name it. Technology is all around us. Think about the last time you forgot your cell phone and how you felt the moment you realized your lifeline was not in your pocket or attached to your hip (by the way, cell phones are not a status symbol anymore so get the damn thing off your belt-unless you are addicted to online games and have a case of Mountain Dew next to your PC).

Immediately, your mind goes into overdrive. Do I drive back home and get it? If I don’t, what calls or texts will I miss? Crap. What do I do!? For me, I have to have my phone with me. If there is a problem with Kai or Ella, that is the number everyone has to call me. Email for work is important too, but let’s face it, the children always come first!

Last Saturday, Kathy and I were getting away for the evening to celebrate our sixth anniversary. A nice evening in Midtown Atlanta at Ecco. We both pretty much new where the restaurant was but decided to pop the address in TomTom and let it guide us through the one-way streets.

“10 miles?” Kathy new something was wrong. We were on 85 South (maybe 5 miles north of Midtown). Maybe it is saying 10 more miles because of all the curvey roads and one-way streets…

Hmmm…now we are passing downtown Atlanta. Something is definitely wrong. Call the restaurant and confirm the street. We used the right 7th Street NE. Next thing you know we literally crossed the proverbial tracks. 15 minutes of surface streets later we hit a dead end. TomTom didn’t know the street was gone. You could see where there was once a road but it has long since been gone. Trees were growing for Pete’s sake.

An already long story short, Kathy called them back, we turned TomTom off and made it there on our own.

Do we rely too much on technology? I definitely think so. I am a tech freak and my confidence in TomTom (never steered me wrong before) was way too high and it cost us.

What do you think? What tech gadget do you rely on most? Do you think you could live one day or week without it?