5. Nokia Windows Phone 7 handsets will catch on-overseas
Windows Phone 7 will start to blossom, but in Africa, South Asia and the Middle
East-where people need smartphones, where Nokia has a huge installed base and
where nobody can afford an iPhone. Sales will pick up in the U.S., too, but not
like sales overseas. Around the end of 2012, Microsoft will start throwing
serious marketing money at WP7 wherever there are signs of sales momentum.
Despite rumors, Microsoft will not buy Nokia.
6. Look for a 7-inch Apple tablet early in the year
Apple will release a 7-inch
(or thereabouts) version of the iPad. Now that Amazon is selling a million
7-inch tablets a week, it's clear that the market exists. While Steve Jobs
ridiculed 7-inch tablets before he died, he's not around anymore, and Apple
executives are smart enough to know a hot market when they see one. Besides, a
7-inch tablet is the perfect size for a lot of tasks for which an iPad is just
too big. The announcement will be early in the year when the iPad 3 is released,
and the new 7-inch version might not be called an iPad.
7. Amazon will add 3G or 4G connectivity to Kindle Fire
Amazon will introduce 3G (or
maybe 4G) capabilities for the Kindle Fire once it starts to look like the
market for WiFi-only devices is becoming saturated. However, it won't be an
all-you-can-eat plan like the one that the original Kindles came with. The
Kindle Fire is far too capable of running data-intensive applications, such as
movie watching, for an unlimited data plan to work. So guess what? It'll be the
same type of plans that the iPad has and probably with the same carriers.
8. Prices for 7-inch tablets will hover around $225
Competition from the Kindle
Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook as well as the hefty 2011 sales of the Hewlett-Packard
TouchPad and the BlackBerry PlayBook once their prices were slashed will make
$225 the market sweet spot for 7-inch tablets. While Samsung and others will
try to keep high-end 7-inch tablet prices close to where they are now, their
days are numbered. In fact, Apple's new 7-inch tablet will sell for less than
the current iPad because of the competitive price pressure.
9. Using a smartphone will get more costly
As the popularity of 4G
wireless grows, the price will go up, data caps will get lower and using a
smart phone will get more expensive. WiFi calling, pioneered by T-Mobile, may
start to show up with other carriers, most likely Sprint, where it would help
keep backhaul costs under control.
10. Guerilla WiFi phone access to fight rising 4G costs
The "Occupy" movement will
inspire an "Occupy Wireless" concept in which people will take it on themselves
to help fight the growing prices of 4G access by opening up their WiFi access
points using unregulated guest access, thus offering free wireless service to
anyone within range. Some will do this just by changing the settings on their
routers, while others will find ways to install rooftop antennas that support
802.11n over a wide area. ISPs will try to fight it, but their efforts will
fail. The big wireless companies will ignore this until it becomes clear that a
lot of people are using this free WiFi instead of 4G. T-Mobile may see growth
in their WiFi-calling equipped phones in areas where this practice is common.