Looking Forward To Mobile Tech In 2011

As I sit here during the afternoon on the last day of 2010, I am wondering what 2011 will have in store for mobile technology. Rather than making predictions that are likely not to be true, I have a number of questions that I am curious about whether they will be answered this coming year.

Will Windows Phone 7 be a success? If you read my post about the mobile tech highs of 2010, you might have wondered why the Windows Phone 7 launch was not on my list. It’s not included because in my mind the launch is not complete. After Windows Phone 7 is on all U.S. carriers will we be able to see how it competes. My definition of success for Windows Phone is that it is a serious part of the smartphone discussion at the end of 2011.

Will the next iPhone have a different antenna design? Apple’s handling of the iPhone 4’s antenna issues was a low point for Apple in 2010. Apple has not admitted that the iPhone 4’s antenna design is flawed, but the real proof will be whether the next iPhone retains the antenna design.

Will a serious competitor emerge for the iPad? Before the iPad was even officially announced companies were saying that they too would be selling a tablet. Despite all of the announcements, and the release of a few Android-based tablets, nobody has produced a serious competitor for the iPad. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the closest, but does not have a WiFi only model and therefore I don’t think competes well against the WiFi only iPad. HP is developing a webOS tablet, Microsoft is sure to have tablet announcements at CES, and Google is targeting Android 3 for tablets, but will we see real product early enough in 2011 to make a real run at iPad sales?

Will prices for wireless data come down? If tablets are going to be used everywhere, they need more than WiFi. In my opinion, for tablets to be a true success carriers need to provide data services for them at affordable prices with reasonable data caps. 200 MB for $20/month or less is not a realistic plan for tablets, I am looking for at least 5 GB for $20/month. Oh, and caps on 4G plans need to be higher than 5 GB.

Will the FCC’s net neutrality rulings stick? The year ended with the FCC’s disappointing no-action on mobile net neutrality, but as a package the FCC’s rulings are sure to be challenged in court and probably in Congress. I am curious about whether 2011 will end with the rules as they exist today.

Will we see consolidation of smartphone platforms? iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, webOS, Windows Phone, and Meego, do we really need this many smartphone platforms? I don’t think so, but each one is owned by companies who are committed to its success. At some point I think several of the platforms need to go away, but I don’t know if we will see that happen in 2011.