Monday, January 3, 2011

We are on an upswing in our Economy - no matter how sloppy and messy it will look - this economy is about to take off - even with the burden of the 10% Class of the Unemployed!

In the meantime, here are five tech trends to look forward to in 2011.
Happy New Year!
1. More tablet computers:
It started last year with the introduction of the Apple iPad. This sleek, touch-screen computer ignited the market for tablets despite its ridiculous name. In a few days, many analysts expect Apple to unveil the iPad 2. If the rampant rumors are to be believed, it will have a front-facing camera and a USB port.
No matter the features, though, I'm betting the iPad 2 will drive up demand for all tablets. Think the iPhone and touch-screen smart phones.
Expect to see more tablets running Google's Android operating system. Last year, we got the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Dell Streak. This year, LG, Archos, Motorola and HTC, among others, are expected to release their own tablets.
2. More typing, less talking:
No doubt, 2010 was the year of the smart phone. Google's Android operating system staked a huge claim on the market, Research in Motion rolled out the BlackBerry Torch and Microsoft introduced its totally revamped Windows Phone 7 operating system.
What does that mean?
It means more people than ever have phones that make it almost as easy to send text messages as it is to make phone calls.
It's not surprising then that the number of minutes that subscribers actually talk on their cell phones has stayed relatively steady during the last three years, but the number of texts they send has tripled, according to the trade group CTIA.
As more people switch from old-school feature phones to increasingly affordable computerlike smart phones, expect this trend to continue.
3. More streaming:
It's only January. I won't go so far as label 2011 "The Year the Disc Died." But I'm really, really tempted to do so.
Last year, after all, was the year of Netflix, Apple TV, Google TV, Hulu, Boxee and Pandora. Americans bypassed the disc, whether CDs or Blu-ray Discs, and looked to the Internet to find other ways of getting the movies, TV shows and music they wanted -- legally.
I don't see this changing in 2011.
If anything, I think this trend will accelerate as cellular companies, namely Verizon and Sprint, ramp up their upgrades to faster, 4G data networks.
To the cloud!
4. More checking in:
This may seem far-fetched to some of you, and I completely understand why.
Currently, according to Pew Research, only about 4 percent of American Web users whip out their smart phones to "check in" with a location-based service, such as Foursquare or Facebook Places. Why, many people ask, would I want to share my location with the online world?
The answer, I think, is coming this year.
Companies and advertisers are finally beginning to realize that only the geekiest of geeks will share their location just because it's cool. The rest of us need a reason, and that reason is free stuff.
The more retailers and restaurants and bars start giving away coupons for checking in, the more people will do it.
Never underestimate what people will do for a deal. Don't believe me? Try going shopping at 4 a.m. on a Black Friday.
5. More home automation:
For a long time, when I thought about home automation, I thought about spending thousands of dollars to install lights and an air conditioner that would come on when I entered a room, or doors that would open when I approached like they do on "Star Trek."There are cheaper ways to go about accomplishing most of that these days. Sure, I could hire a professional installer and still pay thousands of dollars, but why do that when I could install something myself for hundreds of dollars?
Led by companies like Carmel-based Schlage, a division of Ingersoll Rand, there is a growing market for do-it-yourself home automation equipment. Without much effort, you can install webcams, door locks and thermostats that you can control from afar with a smart phone or Web-connected computer.
It's not quite "Star Trek," but with all of the technology coming out in 2011, I think we're getting closer.
Call Star reporter Erika D. Smith at (317) 444-6424, send e-mail to or reach on Twitter @indystar_erika.

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