Birnbach Communications’ Top Predictions for 2011, Part I

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We’ve been issuing annual predictions going back a decade now. Our goal is to help our clients more effectively understand and engage on topics of interest for social media.

We will be rolling out our 2011 list of trends this week. Here are the first few:

  • The battle between the iPad and the iPad Killers, the race for apps and the impact of tablet computing will be a main theme. In 2011, there will be lots of choices among tablets from other manufacturers, but the (soon-to-be-announced) iPad2 will give Apple the momentum to continue to dominate the market – even as other tablets offer videoconferencing and other features not available in the current iPad. Expect to see a lot of coverage about an “iPad killer,” but also expect the iPad to remain king of the hill at year’s end. In our app-enabled culture, part of the iPad’s success in 2011 will be the availability and variety of its apps. Also expect to see much discussion about the battle of operating systems: iOS vs. Android because the Apple vs. Google makes a compelling story angle. The media will also look at the impact of tablet computing on how students learn while using tablets and how people spend time online – already there are indications that users spend more time on social media sites and less time on email. There will also be lots of stories about the impact of tablets on the PC market. (Anyone remember netbooks?)

  • 2011 will be the year of app-based media subscriptions. Last year lots of publishers either rolled out or announced online subscription access fees. This year, publishers are rolling out apps for iPad and other tablets as well as e-readers to help them generate subscription revenue. One challenge for publishers and consumer alike: Justifying app subscriptions when current single-edition app access (at $3.99 per single-issue for Wired or $4,99 for each issue of Time) can cost significantly more than annual print subscriptions (e.g., $20 for Wired, $30 for Time). A second challenge: the lack of a standard subscription process — each magazine seems to take a different approach. Early adapters seem to be willing to pay; the real question is the price point that the rest of the population will be willing to pay. This will succeed with the establishment of an app store for subscriptions (currently you can easily purchase single-issue subscriptions but that’s not the case for annual subscriptions) that provide a common approach, the way iTunes does.

  • The converging media phenomenon will gain momentum in 2011. With early generation gadgets on the market that combine TV and Internet, it’s time to get rid of the old way of thinking about media. For example, we need a new term for video content that we’re already accessing on devices that are not traditional TVs. Meanwhile, the same convergence will continue to impact how news is reported: Newspaper reporters, who once only filed print stories that appeared nearly 24 hours after the news hit, are not only going to continue to be filing stories in near-real time, but also they will be producing accompanying video. Meanwhile, broadcast reporters will post text versions of their segments on their websites. Radio stations will provide video on their websites to accompany the audio-only pieces already accompanied by text-based articles. This already started taking place in 2010, but expect more cross-channel news operations in 2011 and beyond.

Let us know if you agree or disagree. And check back tomorrow for additional predictions.

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