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Jørgen Dalen and Kristian Pålshaugen Digital trends 2010
About the authors Jørgen Dalen User experience specialist and information architect in Halogen AS http://www.halogen.no/menneskene/#jorgen-dalen Kristian Pålshaugen User experience specialist and interaction designer in Halogen AS http://www.halogen.no/menneskene/#kristian-singstad-palshaugen
About the company Halogen AS is a Norwegian consultancy company specializing in web communication, user experience and web analytics Home page: www.halogen.no Blog: http://kjokkenfesten.no
Introduction Social media will continue to steal much of your time in 2010, but we at Halogen believe that the biggest changes will come in the areas of search, mobile technologies and collaboration tools. We have surveyed the current state of play and can now give you the top 9 things that may or may not happen in 2010.
The trends Social media fatigue Real-time search and social search The end of the Intranet … as we know it Content leaves home Augmented Reality (AR) Service on demand User-friendly collaboration tools The new interface iPhone-killers
1. Social media fatigue Facebook was more fun when you got a bunch of new friends every day. Now that all your relationships with friends and old classmates are digitally secured, we enter the ”same old, same old” stage. We know, we know, it’s not like social media is going to go away or even slow down in 2010 – on the contrary. But the sheer thrill of something brand new will start to wear off. Facebook has been like the first couple of wild parties you went to as a teenager, and now you’re at the stage where you’re more likely just out for a beer with your mates. Social media is growing up, and – like people – grown-up means more mature, and (let’s face it) a bit boring. Oh, and although it can be useful, Twitter is too much like Tamagotchi (tweeting for tweet’s sake) to take over. It will grow (in certain segments), but remain a niche service. Those in the know will have their own parties and lists, but you can always watch from the sidelines.Why?: Although you still check it 10 times a day, watching old classmates’ pics of their kids and constructing clever status updates to fish for comments is starting to get old.Why not?: Photos of drunken friends are a timeless time-waster . And now that social media sites own our networks, photos and conversations, it’s not like we’re going anywhere. Keep feeding us easier ways to brag, stalk and chat, and we’re in. Five years ago we had no YouTube, no Facebook, no Flickr, no Twitter. Things can change quickly
2. Real-time search and social search (search 2.5) These two big search trends of late 2009 are on track to reach the business world in 2010. We live inside a steadily growing stream of real-time information, whether it is news headlines, bus schedules or twitter messages. It’s no longer enough to search the archives – search must be updated with real-time information. Both Google and Microsoft Bing have started indexing Twitter and Facebook updates in real time. We’re also predicting an increase in the related phenomenon of “social search”. But for this to become really useful, we have to enter the era of the semantic web (i.e. search 2.5) where different applications share the same data about your social network. This is a necessary step to ensure relevancy for each user, whatever the source of the content. Why?: Microsoft has already struck a deal with both Twitter and Facebook, and Google is not far behind. Why not?: How will all this content be ranked? Using the social graph is harder when you don’t have direct access to the network. And do we really want our spur-of-the-moment opinions and gripes to be indexed and searchable by all?
3. The end of intranets – as we know it Most new knowledge in companies is brought in from the outside world, through relationships with people in other communities and organizations. Yet, most intranets today are designed as closed networks accessible only to employees. This can result in employees who tend to get more and more similar in the way they think. The next generation of intranets will support knowledge networks that go beyond the company itself, and be opened up to outside specialists, partners and customers for the mutual exchange of content and ideas. Why?: The idea of open enterprise has been with us for some years – it’s about time that intranets caught up. Why not?: There is still a strong need to protect ideas from the prying eyes of ”outsiders”. The content must be of interest to your external partners. Some bold first moves are needed but we really see this grand opening happening within a few years.
4. Content leaves home Content elements are increasingly becoming freed from the fading concept of web pages – they appear in feeds, get embedded in a variety of social media and are viewed directly in search results. Where content originates is no longer so important, it is far more decisive who recommended it to us. That is mostly a good thing; we can trust the opinions of our friends and the best content can now bubble up from anywhere and anyone. On the other hand, source criticism becomes tough, and disinformation and hidden advertising are even harder to spot. Why?: The syndication of content is a natural and inevitable consequence of the sharing nature of the social web and the diminishing reign of The All Mighty Page . New protocols like PubSubHubbub and Salmon offer more efficient notification and updates, as well as up-stream feedback and commenting. Why not?: The original context of the content is still important to give it meaning, and it’s hard to maintain content with no home. And what tools will help us navigate through this bombardment of information? Google? Twitter? There are still plenty of loose ends (or red herrings).
5. Augmented reality (AR) VR never took off and now we get AR instead, enriching our reality with virtual services. Examples include mobile applications to serve as your guide while you stroll through a museum. AR got off to a slow start, and will remain just hype for some time – but it has already proven its usefulness especially in geo-location based services. Why?: The user experience gets better with added information and this has huge commercial potential. Why not?: For some, these services will only be disturbances to the ”real” experience.
6. Service on demand The instant success and fast adoption of streaming services like music site Spotify is no coincidence. Spotify is faster, simpler and more user friendly than BitTorrent. Similar services for movies are next in line, and we believe games will soon be there too. There are still huge issues related to making money from such services, but the fact that the industry is finally creating legal services that outsmart the illegal ones in terms of quality of content, functionality and user experience is a big step in the right direction. Why?: With more and more connectivity everywhere, streaming of media content is the only way to go. Subscribers are possibly the most difficult customers you can win – but once they’re in, they’re steady income (practically) forever. Why not?: People are extremely reluctant to pay for anything on the internet. As newspapers have learned to their pain, there’s always someone else willing to provide content for free.
7) User-friendly collaboration tools Most collaboration tools like SharePoint, Lotus Live and even Google Wave are still too cumbersome to set up and use. Basecamp by 37signals has been a success among smaller businesses, and in 2009 we saw the breakthrough of simpler tools like Yammer (an internal Twitter-like service for companies) which encourages more spontaneous communication and collaboration. We’ve also started to see more domestic online collaboration as families move the shared household schedule from the fridge door to the web. We expect to see lots more tools with added functionality for collaboration but with the same low threshold for use as Yammer. Why?: As more and more of our lives take place out there in the ether, people need to also connect online for personal use. But they need tools that are easier to use than SharePoint and Google Wave. Why not?: Collaboration tools are still most relevant in a job context, where you need the structure and formalism of advanced tools. Our personal lives are too fragmented and unpredictable for the effective use of collaboration tools.
8) The new interface Oh, remember those simple happy days when a PC sat on your desk, and your mobile phone was just … a phone?! In our gadget-heavy lives loaded with PCs, netbooks, Kindles, iPhones, PDAs, PSPs, each with an ever-increasing overlap in functionality and areas of use, the decision of what tool to use for what purpose is in massive flux. A lot of tasks could use a device sized somewhere between a PC and a mobile phone, like reading books and watching movies on the go. The answer may be tablets: portable devices with bigger screens than mobile phones have, but which are simpler and smaller than laptops and netbooks. Apple is rumored to release its tablet in early 2010. Will it be a big iPhone or a small touch-screen Macbook? Time will tell, but they’ve done it before. Why?: The PC is too big, the mobile phone too small. Tougher requirements from demanding mobile phone users will force change to happen. And people can once more buy smaller mobile phones. Why not?: Smaller portable PCs with touch screens, PDAs and eReaders cover the same need. The gamut of gadgets is already too rich to squeeze in yet another.
9) iPhone killers A few years after Apple outsmarted its competitors with the iPhone and single-handedly raised the bar for ease of use in a mobile phone, we’ll finally start seeing phones to match. This is good for everyone, as it will keep the innovation going. The new advance of phones armed with Google’s Android operating system looks particularly interesting, teaming up the best efforts of Motorola, Samsung and HTC with Google’s suite of services and proven abilities in solid user experience design. Together they openly copy the key iPhone features but also attack its weakest points. So we see better camera quality, simultaneous apps, Flash support , a physical keyboard, turn-by-turn GPS, and more. The ante has definitely been upped, while Microsoft, as usual, is tagging along as best as it can. Why?: Apple keeps tight control over their universe, to the rising frustration of developers. This has served them well, but may be a dangerous long-term strategy. When other manufacturers start to deliver great user experiences, they may start to leverage their functional superiority by actually making it useful. Why not?: Apple still has the edge, due mostly to their control of the entire value chain. More than ever, the devil is in the detail, and what seems like a promising attack may fall apart upon closer inspection. And as always, we can’t predict what Apple has got up their well-cloaked sleeve.