Predictions 2011

Predictions 2011: Jon Fortt On Technology


1. Android overtakes iPhone in total units and usage, but not profits.

It's broadly accepted that Google'sAndroid phones will outsell iPhones on a unit basis in 2011; it's important to note that it will happen on a usage basis, too. But here's another prediction: Apple's iPhone will continue to stand alone in profitability, with no other handset maker coming close to Apple's brilliant built-it-all business model. In other words, by this time next year, Google will still be making a pittance on phones compared to Apple.

2. Mac app store rocks PC software distribution.

In late 2010, Apple announced the biggest thing to happen to PC software since the floppy drive. Computers will get download-based app stores like the ones phones already have, opening up a new era for software entrepreneurs. If Apple's iOS success is any indication (and I say it is), the Mac app store will spawn imitators. The app store is likely to help Apple continue its PC market-share gains, especially with Cupertino's latest flash-based MacBook Airs that don't have DVD drives.

3. Larry Ellison buys more hardware.

What might Oracle CEO Larry Ellison have his sights on? Not big chipmakers. (Sorry, AMD shareholders.) Larry Ellison said in the summer of 2010 that flash memory is one of the most important things happening in enterprise storage because of how it speeds customers' ability to comb through data. I wouldn't expect him to bid for a flash supplier likeSanDisk, but maybe for a startup like Fusion-IO that's doing smart things with the technology.

4. Qualcomm becomes Intel's new nemesis.

If Intel is going to grow significantly from here on out, it has to finally get traction in the one electronics market that's big and complicated enough for Intel to make real money—phones. Right now, Qualcomm is tops in the market for high-end phone chips, and is using its position to challenge Intel in tablets (which are basically PCs). That makes Qualcomm the one for Intel to beat—and the sort of formidable rival Chipzilla hasn't faced for a long time. (This isn't to say AMD will go away.)

5. Carol Bartz tames Yahoo.

All the chatter about Carol Bartz being a short-timer is going fizzle in 2011. Sure, she is having a hard time keeping talent and growing revenue, as well as adjusting to all the scrutiny that comes with steering a Silicon Valley icon. Bartz has also adjusted her blunt approach and behind the scenes is doing exactly what Yahoo needs most: imposing discipline on its processes and narrowing its focus. Will Yahoo find some breakout revenue opportunity or stop losing online time share and display ad share to Facebook and Google in 2011? Not likely. But as long as Bartz doesn't lose her cool under pressure, she'll emerge from 2011 with a firmer grip on the company.