Predictions: 2011 as we see it

Around this time every year, the editorial staff at IT World Canada books a boardroom, stocks up on coffee, and prognosticates about the year to come. We’re talking some strong and contrary opinions and personalities, so the exercise is fun and educational, though the transcripts aren’t always suitable for a family publication.

There’s not enough space to publish a full hour of sometimes heated debate, but here are some of the predictions, with dissenting opinions noted.

Howard Solomon, assistant editor of Network World Canada, predicted that Canadian wireless companies won’t rush into new LTE technology in 2011, allowing U.S. carriers to take the leading edge and pay the most for the technology. There’s still room to double speeds on existing HSPA networks. ComputerWorld Canada staff writer Rafael Ruffolo, however, believed that the carriers will use LTE as a hook to pitch new handsets in the holiday season.

Ruffolo’s prediction of the failure of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone 7 operating system was among the most divisive. With Google Inc.’s Android and Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry OS dominating the mobile space, he reasoned, Redmond will abandon the mobile phone space for the tablet market with Windows 8. That got healthy resistance from Computer Dealer News assistant editor Jeff Jedras, who felt Microsoft wouldn’t leave a market where the phone is becoming more prevalent as an end point, and from me, since I believe a tablet is a big phone, not a small computer.

Jedras argues that the end device is becoming irrelevant, with the virtual office becoming more of a reality and end points using virtual instances rather than onboard software. That tied in nicely with ComputerWorld Canada senior writer Kathleen Lau’s prediction of further outsourcing in IT, offloading the risk and the keep-the-lights-on work to third parties while taking a more strategic business role.

Lau also predicted the extension of business-to-business vendors into the consumer space.

Brian Jackson, senior writer for, expects Google will lose share in the search market to social networks, prompting a split between the believers and the non-believers at the table. Jedras served as the bipartisan voice of reason, allowing that social connections will continue to become more relevant, but not in a specific search situation.

Jackson also predicted more realistic valuations for over-valued social networking companies with no clear revenue strategy.

As I was live-tweeting our session on one of those very social networks we’d been discussing, a reader joined in the fun, opining that HTML 5 Web applications will grow in popularity in the mobile world. It was a nice segue to a prediction of my own: That this will be a pivotal year for Adobe Systems Inc. and its Flash platform. It’s already been isolated from the mobile world to an extent by Apple Inc.’s intransigence about Flash running on its iPhone and iPad operating systems. With H.264 emerging as the standard video codec for HTML 5, Flash could become increasingly irrelevant on the Web, period.

I’m also calling for a good year for open source, as I do every year. Two years ago, I felt it would be sparked by virtualization and the licensing cost for all those virtual instances of applications; last year, it was because of the netbook market. This year, it’s mobile that’s driving open source; not just the 300,000-plus Android activations every day, but because the app store has changed attitudes toward software. People aren’t going to shell out $200 for an office suite when a $9.99 app is considered expensive.

Nestor Arellano, senior writer with, predicted a banner year for Canadian SMBs that provide mobile and social connectivity to businesses, with a lot of startups focussed on helping companies like the big banks connect with their customers in the social space.

And there was much more: Ruffolo’s prediction that Microsoft would market the buzzword “cloud” into the ground and the industry would have to abandon it; AMD Inc. will, according to Jedras, move to put security on the chip like Intel Corp. did with its McAfee acquisition; Solomon believes the cloud will bury open source; I believe the cloud will be built on open source. Whatever you believe, it’s going to be an interesting year.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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