2010 Trends: Revolutionary Moves in Mobile TV, Sports, Search

The media landscape continues to evolve, as the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show from Las Vegas highlighted 3D video screens and e-readers. In addition, consumer electronics are getting smaller, more multifunctional and environmentally friendly.

The recently concluded decades brought out some of the industry's greatest innovations, including iPods, smartphones, social networks, blogging, YouTube, Twitter, e-books, portable GPS devices, the transition to digital TV and the emergence of Google. The upcoming decade promises to be even more innovative.

While the overall adoption of 3D TV (and other screens) is perhaps several years away, if indeed it ever does become a commodity, there are some trends to look out for in 2010.

*2010 will be another banner year in sports. With such regular events as the Super Bowl and World Series joined by the Winter Olympics originating from Vancouver and soccer's World Cup, televised sports will continue to attract viewers when most TV shows are losing viewers. One reason for the popularity of sports is HD television. Nielsen reports that in 2009, ratings in HD sets for sports were 21% higher. The number of HD-capable sets is 47.4 million, and will grow boosting sports ratings further.



*Set-top boxes will become the currency (for some). With well over half the households subscribing to digital cable or satellite TV and upwards of six companies analyzing the data, second-by-second viewing information is now readily available. Many smaller ethnic and regional cable networks, as well as nationally unmeasured cable networks, will begin to use digital set-top boxes with advertisers as the currency, potentially challenging Nielsen.

*Cars are becoming media centers. Cars are also benefiting from digital technology. Many applications that are familiar on cell phones, as well as Web sites and social networks, are also available in new cars. For safety reasons, these media-centric capabilities will have steering wheel controls, activated by either voice controls or touchscreens. As the industry rebounds in 2010, expect automobile ads to not only tout fuel efficiency, low prices and safety features, but also their media capabilities.

*2010: The year of mobile mid-sized screens. Last year, 33 million netbooks were sold to consumers, proving there is a market for mobile screens smaller than laptops and larger than cell phones. Another example is the popularity of e-readers from Amazon, Sony, Barnes & Noble, etc. Looking ahead, 2010 could be the long-awaited year of the wireless tablet (e.g., Apple iPad), as well as the Linux-based smartbooks. All these mobile devices have a screen of 5" to 10" in diameter. Furthermore, these mobile devices will help newspapers and magazines migrate to a digital platform (Wired and Sports Illustrated are beta testing tablets), offering readers and advertisers interactive capabilities.

*Cell phone applications will lead to behavioral marketing. With over 100,000 mobile applications to choose from and over 3 billion downloaded since July 2008, consumers are now providing valuable information about their preferences and interests that have marketing implications. Expect marketers to gain some access to this information, and coupled with a mobile component, begin to provide relevant advertising information to consumers on there smartphones.

*Better Search: Search engines led by Google will continue to improve. Look for more real-time search as posts on Twitter and Facebook become readily available. Social search will provide more relevant information based upon user profiles, and Google goggles allow users to find relevant information based upon a photograph.

*DVDs on the way out? While Sony's Blu-Ray HD DVD Player was one of the fastest-growing consumer electronic products in 2009, DVD sales -- an important profit center for movie studios -- slipped for the second consecutive year, dropping 13.3%. Expect studios in 2010 to look for streaming movies as the next platform for consumers. Companies providing online rentals include Netflix, Disney's Keychest and even Blu-Ray, which is expected to launch an online video service in February. These products also have the capability to work with portable devices.

*Mobile TV: With Google entering the smartphone market with Nexus One, the industry will be more competitive than ever. Mobile TV will benefit greatly from the digital transition of June 2009, allowing TV stations to broadcast in real-time on portable devices. The number of TV stations broadcasting to handheld devices will grow from 30 to 200 by year's-end. GPS-enhanced mobile devices allow marketers to target consumers geographically with relevant ad messages. Nielsen and Rentrak plan to unveil an audience measurement system in early 2010.

While the recently 2000s were evolutionary, in all likelihood, the upcoming 2010s will be revolutionary. The media opportunities for both consumers and marketers will expand exponentially in the upcoming decade, with personal devices at the forefront.

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