Tech Check

Predictions 2010: Technology

When it comes to tech, before you can look ahead, you really need to look back and understand where we've been in 2009.


Tech led the markets lower in 2009 and we've learned since March that tech is clearly leading the markets back.

This was the year of Apple and Google and smartphones and netbooks and social networking. And those are the trends to watch in 2010.

At the end of 2008, I put together 9 predictions for 2009. I said Apple would break free from the market manipulation that was killing its stock, its shares would be off to the races, and that the company's earnings in January would soundly beat expectations. Look at a one-year chart of Apple stock and I would say that prediction came true.

Hewlett-Packard's Mark Hurd didn't sit down for an interview with me, but he's begun doing phoners post-earnings and I'm still holding out hope that 2010 will be the year for a two-camera, in-depth production. Come on, Mr. Hurd. Now's a good time!

I predicted that Google would come up with new revenue streams, and with YouTube turning a profit and Android looking good, that prediction came true too, and its stock price reflects a new found euphoria.

Microsoft's redesign of the Zune came true, but it didn't include the phone I expected. Steve Ballmer tells me no way, but I still see the company entering the smart phone arena with a handset of its own.

I predicted that Intel , HP, Cisco , IBM and Oracle were all oversold and that such lows presented good opportunities for investors. All of them would have been good bets last December.

I asked whether Palm would survive 2009. Despite the Pre and the Pixi, I think the jury's still out. Dell is entering the smart phone market with hardware of its own. Maybe that means Nokia is the best (last? Only?) hope for Palm in 2010.

I predicted that Advanced Micro Devices would be acquired in 2009. Didn't happen. With that $1 billion from Intel as part of that new settlement, 2010 could be a much better year for AMD. But "much better" is relative when you're scraping for Intel scraps merely to survive.

I said Apple posed the biggest opportunity for tech investors in 2009 and I was right. I'd say the same holds true for 2010. Look for the tablet Mac, but not anywhere close to the $2,000 price tag being thrown around. Apple will re-invent mobile computing once again with this device, but beyond hardware and software, it'll do so with price as well.

If 2009 was a big year for 3D movie-making, 3D TV will blossom big in 2010. New TVs from Sony , Samsung, LG and others will grab lots of attention, and new 3D TV production from upstarts like 3Ality will show viewers enormous possibilities.

Some other predictions.

This is cool stuff. Digital books and eReaders from Amazon , Sony, Barnes & Noble and 17 other manufacturers will enjoy their true break-out year.

Microsoft will enjoy a big-time renaissance. Cisco continues to be one of this region's most exciting growth stories. Netbooks start to fade as a fad as consumers realize that their iPhones, Research In Motion's Blackberrys and Nokia smart phones get the job done at a fraction of the size (and cost.)

And Twitter, as we know it, will fade away. Either acquired or shut down. $155 million in venture capital so far, and still no meaningful revenue stream to speak of. And certainly no profits. At some point, someone will step up and yell "Tulips!"

Meantime, I'm sure of a few key predictions in 2010: Innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit will continue to thrive here in Silicon Valley. It's what makes my job so fun and America so great.