9 digital trends to watch in 2010

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In 2009, digital experienced some major changes -- the rise of Twitter, the fall of the economy, shifting budgets, an explosion of new technologies. And 2010 is shaping up to be just as dynamic. But what changes and trends are poised to really take the marketing world by storm? Here are just a few predictions of what's likely to come.  

 1. Facebook replaces personal email
Question: Google has it; Hoover has it (in the U.K. anyway); TiVo had it, lost it, and has somewhat got it back. Xerox had it, but nobody really cares anymore. So what is it?       

It's when a brand name becomes the verb associated with its use. So rather than searching for something online, you Google it. Or you TiVo, rather than digitally recording a television show. Arguably, an even more powerful phenomenon is when a brand becomes a noun, such as using the word Polaroid to represent all instantly developed photography (although that didn't end so well).  

The newest one would seem to Facebook, although it has two meanings: "I Facebooked you" could mean that the person has added you as a Facebook friend, or that they sent you a private message though Facebook. The latter would seem to be of more interest, as no one has really owned this type of communication before. No brand ever became synonymous with email. To Hotmail or to Gmail someone just never happened.   

So the interesting and overlooked disruption of Facebook is its displacement of personal email as a communication tool. Completely permission based, no spam (yet), and no address book required -- your friends are already there.

 2. Open source software starts making proper money, thanks to the cloud
There's something starting to happen within the open source software world. Projects that were typically for the purview of programmers, or at least technophiles, are now available to the masses.   

An example is Beanstalk a fully hosted, version-controlled code repository that uses the Subversion open source project. The big deal is that to set up and maintain a Subversion repository can be a pain -- plus you need a server if you want to give access to anyone. Beanstalk has created a subscription-based service that, for a small fee, removes the hassle. Services like this can only really exist with cloud computing infrastructure -- so companies such as Beanstalk don't have the huge upfront capital outlay for servers; they only pay for what their customers use. With the right skills any open source project can be commercialized in this manner.  

3. Mobile commerce -- The promise that has never delivered, yet
As annoyingly tantalizing yet esoteric as the word "convergence" has been over the last 10 years, mobile commerce has promised much but hasn't delivered. However, mobile phones have delivered real benefits to societies worldwide, and in developing nations they are used commonly as devices for the transfer of money.  

Yet, it's only recently that the nations that invented and first adopted mobile technologies have extended the use of these precious devices to pay for goods and services. With the advanced browsers of iPhone and the Android platforms, one could pay for goods through full ecommerce sites, but who really wants to fiddle around with a phone in one hand and a credit card in another?   

The game changer is the iPhone/iTunes platform. In-app purchases on the iPhone can tempt users to buy small items, upgrades, updates, etc., while iTunes holds their precious credit card information. All, of course, is done in seamless fashion -- easily and reliably enough to promote impulse purchases. It would seem like an easy task for this to be extended to other platforms with PayPal or Google Checkout. (Though we have been here before, haven't we?)  

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Guillermo Corea
Guillermo Corea November 5, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Great article! A lot of the things you mention are right on the money. Hard to believe we're talking about 2010.

Brett Sherman
Brett Sherman November 5, 2009 at 9:09 AM

interesting...good insight