Yankee Group has released its annual report on predictions for the new year. Offering a positive outlook for 2010, the firm reports that while the economic recession has changed attitudes in the communications sector, these changes are creating opportunities for businesses smart enough to recognize, and act on, them.
"We cannot all remain scarred by the economic events of the last 26 months and miss out on the first fruits of the recovery," Chris Collins, a Yankee Group analyst and co-author of the report, said in a Dec. 15 statement. "Companies that continue to adapt and innovate are best positioned to prosper in the new decade."
According to Collins, the economic situations in late 2008 and early 2009 changed the ways that consumers, enterprises and network builders now think. Consequently, Yankee found that 66 percent of consumers say they'll spend less overall in 2010, while approximately 25 percent expect to cancel or spend less on core connectivity services in the new year.
Additionally, 20 percent of businesses say the economy has forced "severe reductions" in their technology investments, while 83 percent say the economy has had "some impact to severe impact" on their tech spending.
Topping Yankee's list for 2010 is the prediction that "cord-cutting will double yet again in 2010," with more consumers cancelling their land-line phone service and relying entirely on mobile and mobile broadband replacements.
Back in March, the Centers for Disease Control - which calls landlines to conduct its surveys - reported that households without landlines were on the rise. While in 2007, 14.7 percent of U.S. households relied entirely on mobile phones, in the first half of 2008, 17.5 percent - or one in six - of homes did.
Second on Yankee's list is the increased likelihood of mobile operators, whose profits are dropping, to begin offering more no-subsidy and no-contract plans. (Gartner, too, in a Dec. 15 report, predicted a shortening of smartphone contract lengths.)
Third, is a predicted slipping of netbook sales. "While netbooks won the battle for consumers' hearts in 2009, they will ultimately lose the war, as notebooks will take on similar form factors and similar prices without such drastic compromises in processing power," states the report.
Intel began calling for as much in early June, when it introduced its ultra-low-voltage processors, and manufacturers including Dell have delivered, with notebooks such as the Vostro V13, which offers a near-netbook-low starting price of $449 and a weight of just 3.5 pounds, but can offer up to 4GB of DDR3 (double-data rate) memory.
No. 4 on Yankee's list is the "consumerization of IT," with 50 percent of enterprise smartphone purchases expected to be completed by users, versus IT departments. And No. 5 is a nod to Google's browser-based Chrome OS, which Yankee writes "won't be a PC killer, but it will power a new range of must-have consumer devices."
Rounding out the list, Yankee is also predicting that 33 percent of businesses will invest in cloud-based IT services; that China-based Huawei will become an early, predominant supplier of LTE equipment in the United States; that telcos will act as intermediaries between "cloud" environments; that startups, to the chagrin of telecommunications companies, will be slower to offer investment-worthy ideas, due to a lack of venture capital funding; and that telcos will become more efficient by sharing network assets.
Finally, No. 11 on the list is that following new FCC rulings on U.S. network neutrality, service providers worldwide will become more transparent about internal traffic and management practices.
"As the crisis recedes, Yankee Group sees new opportunities coming to the fore," the report states. "The trick is recognizing those opportunities in the murky haze of recovery."