Predictions for 2011

By Jason Griffey |

Since my November post was all about what was going to be hot for the holiday season, I thought it only fitting that the last post of 2010 for me would be looking forward to 2011. Here’s a short list of my guesses for the technology world in 2011, particularly the eBook and eReader realm. In no particular order:

1. 2011 is the year that eReaders enter the realm of commodity. I’ve been saying for the last couple of years that they were on the way, but I think that this is the year we’ll see the traditional eInk eReader like the Kindle drop to the $50 range.

2. The Kindle isn’t necessarily going to be the one that takes us to the $50 price range, as Amazon will likely put out a new model that includes color capabilities. I’m betting it won’t be based on LCD technology, though, and will use something more akin to the Qualcomm Mirasol screen. I don’t think that Amazon will dump their black-and-white eInk screen model of Kindle, but there’s very little for them to improve on from the Kindle 3, so it makes sense for them to continue to innovate by moving to a new technology. If they do keep the eInk model around, I’d expect it to settle in around the $99 price range, although Amazon has surprised me before with aggressive pricing. If they see sufficient pressure from Barnes & Noble or other eReader manufacturer, I could see the Kindle dropping to $79 in 2011.

If Barnes & Noble do what they have said, and allow for direct development of apps and such on the NookColor platform, it sets an upper limit for the price that Amazon could possible charge for a color Kindle. Expect it to retail for less than the NookColor...again, if history is any indicator, I’d guess a Kindle Color will launch in 2011 for $239.

3. Speaking of B&N, they have a great platform with their NookColor, but they are in a catch-22 with it: it’s almost certainly a loss-leader, and if they do what the tech world wants and add generalized Android access to the hardware, they run the risk of people simply running the Kindle app and bypassing the B&N eBookstore. They can’t really afford that, as the margin on eBooks is probably the only reason they can sell the NookColor for $249. But I’m gonna guess that cost-to-manufacture drops faster than predicted, and that they move forward with a more tablet-like interface on the NookColor in 2011. You’ll be able to download apps, play games, and more before 2011 is done.

4. Apple will release another version of the iPad, which will be thinner, faster, have a better screen and front-facing camera. This is almost a certainty, as it’s just the way they do business...and they will continue their press with eBooks and their iBook store. I’m betting that Apple is the first to get the textbook publishers on their side, and that 2011 will see major Educational textbook publishers putting out iBook and possibly iOS App versions of their work, pushing some institutions to look hard at iPad based curricula.

We’ll see how well I do in a year. :-)

Thanks for reading, everyone...I truly appreciate that I’m privileged to be able to write here at ALA Techsource, and to have people read what I write. Thanks to Dan, Patrick, and the rest of the TechSource crew, as well as all my co-authors here on the blog. Thanks for a great 2010, and here’s to 2011 being the best year yet.