Technology Winners and Losers of 2010
November 4, 2010

Technology Winners and Losers of 2010

By Andrew Eisner, director of community and content for 

2010 was a great year for consumer electronics although some product categories may have had a better year than others. The Retrevo editors compiled a list of some of the big winners and losers among consumer electronics products and technologies for 2010 based on data from Retrevo Gadgetology studies and our own expertise in the world of gadgets.
Winners, 2010
1 - Windows 7
2 - Apple iPhone and iPad
3 - Android Smartphones
4 - Streaming Movies & TV
5 - Kindle e-Book Reader

Losers, 2010
1 - 3DTV
2 - GPS Devices
3 - MP3 Players
4 - Netbooks
5 - Android Tablets

2010 Winners and Why
Microsoft Windows 7 Takes Over the World
Windows 7 launched on October 22, 2009 after a very lengthy beta period that made for a very stable platform at launch. Following on the somewhat unenthusiastic reaction over the years to Vista, consumers took a shine to Windows 7 and have adopted it enthusiastically. In fact, according to Microsoft they have sold over 240 million copies and some say there may be another 100 million illegal copies running on PCs around the world. With an estimated world-wide installed base of around 1.4 billion PCs -- having your latest OS on almost a quarter of them in one year isn't bad.

Apple iPad Leading the Tablet Pack
An earlier Retrevo study indicated there were many consumers who didn’t think they needed an iPad. A recent study also found over 50% of respondents indicating they didn’t think they needed one but that still leaves an awful lot of potential buyers. We still think more people want one than need one but we ll be the first to admit we may have underestimated the impact of the iPad. Not only did it take the wind out the sails for netbooks and e-readers but it s hugely popular as a media reader, game player and all-around electronic companion. It's even making inroads into the Enterprise market and small to medium businesses. It has spawned a whole new category of tablet computers that should show explosive growth in 2011.

Android Smartphones Coming on Strong: Could the Apple iPhone be Vulnerable Next Year?
Estimates now indicate the iPhone accounts for almost half of Apple's revenue. Despite hitting a slight bump with the iPhone 4 and antenna-gate the only thing that could give the iPhone a run for its money appears to be an army of Android phones pouring into the market. What’s interesting to note is that as strong as the iPhone is Android already has gained 2/3 the number of users in a relatively short time. For some time, it didn’t look like any other smartphone had what it takes to give the iPhone some competition until smartphones like the Droid, Incredible and EVO 4G came along and provided an alternative for app developers. Android adoption has been growing at a fast rate. Recently Google CEO, Eric Schmidt said that 200,000 Android phones were sold every day, up from 100,000 two months previous and 60,000 a month before that. At this rate Android phones should start outselling Apple's claimed 230,000 iOS activations a day. We think Apple needs to watch its flank in 2011 or it could be overwhelmed by an army of phones and apps.

Kindle Holds Its Own Against Apple
Amazon came on strong with the Kindle and even upped the ante in August with a new, improved and cheaper Kindle. We still believe e-readers are better for reading books. In fact, in one of our studies we found that avid book readers are much more likely to buy an e-reader than casual readers. As well as the Kindle has fared, it s been a rough year for e-readers in general. Pixel Qi couldn’t ship its hybrid device, Plastic Logic failed to produce an e-reader and the iPad looked, to many, like a better e-book reader. On the other hand, based on our data, it looks like e-readers and iPads will co-exist nicely as 40% of consumers who own or plan to buy an e-reader, indicated they were also planning on buying an iPad this year. With a very reasonable price it also looks like many consumers will end up with both an e-reader and a tablet. Currently, more than a third of iPad owners also have a Kindle and vice versa.

Streaming Movies and TV Growing in Popularity
Connected TVs and other devices that bring the Internet to a TV screen like Blu-ray players, game consoles and set top boxes has been an important trend in 2010 and should make streaming movies and TV programs even more popular in 2011. In a July 2010 Gadgetology study, over 50% of the respondents said they either stream movies now or would like to steam movies. It also doesn’t look like Blu-ray has a lot to worry at the moment as far as steaming movies are concerned. The study found a small percentage of respondents who said they were going to stream movies instead of buying a Blu-ray player, while almost 50% of respondents said they were planning on buying a Blu-ray player or were considering buying one this year. But that will most likely change in favor of streaming as connected TVs become more common.

2010 Losers and Why
3DTV Was the Star of CES 2010. What Happened?
Lots of things came together at the right time in 2010 to help launch 3DTV. James Cameron s Avatar raised everyone's awareness of 3D movies. Manufacturers pretty much settled on one type of glasses (active shutter). The Blu-ray Disc Association came out with a 3D Blu-ray standard. And, HDTVs with high refresh rates and other 3D-necessary features appeared on the market as 3DTVs. The only problem was quality 3D content has been pretty scarce and furthermore, consumers appear unwilling to pay a premium for 3DTV sets. In a recent Gadgetology study 60% of respondents indicated they have no plans to purchase a 3D TV in the next year or so and only 3% said they were going to buy a 3DTV this holiday season. Unfortunately that makes 3DTV a loser for 2010 unless you think it will take longer to gain acceptance, as we do, which should make it a winner for 2011.

Netbooks Took a Hit From the iPad
We still think there is a need for small, portable laptops with long battery lives and real keyboards. In fact, Apple sort of validated that position with the introduction of an 11.6-inch MacBook Air. Unfortunately, Apple s iPad took a lot of the wind out of netbooks sails. In an earlier Pulse Report Retrevo found 30% of potential netbook buyers were planning on getting an iPad instead.

Smartphones Consolidate Gadget Usage
GPS and camera manufacturers among others, are trying to hang on to a share of the market with products that still do what they do better than smartphones. Unfortunately, smartphone owners are using their smartphones more and more instead of gadgets like MP3 players and personal navigation devices. In the recent Gadgetology study respondents indicated that although they felt these dedicated devices still did what they do better than their smartphones, they also say they are using their smartphones more and more as these types of devices. The numbers are most dramatic in the 24-44 year old age group where almost 88% say they use their GPS less or have replaced it with their smartphone.

Android Tablets Waiting for Gingerbread
The Android camp appeared to be caught off guard by the iPad and seemed unable to mount a viable counter attack in 2010 but that should change very soon. We predict 2011 will be the year of the tablet, and we’ll start to see evidence of that at CES 2011 in January. Once Google woke up and realized that Android apps might look good on devices larger than smartphones and started to accelerate development of Android 3.0 (Gingerbread), it started to look like Android tablets might present some competition to Apple s iPad. Expect to see a wave of Android tablets hit the market as 2011 gets underway. Just as smartphones need apps to sell them, the same will hold true for tablets. We think the strength in numbers for Android devices could present problems for Apple.

2010 was a great year for smartphones, HDTV, and other consumer electronics. And 2011 should be even better. Just as 3DTV took the spotlight at this year's CES, we expect to see Android tablets and smartphones grab a lot of attention at next year s. 3DTV will be back and if the prices come down, 3D should become a popular feature for all HDTVs. Look for more predictions in the near future reports as this year in gadgets winds down.

The Retrevo Gadgetology Report is an ongoing study of people and electronics from the consumer electronics shopping and review site The data for the most recent report came from a study of online individuals conducted by an independent panel between October 22, 2010 and October 28, 2010, exclusively for Retrevo. The sample size was over 1,000 online individuals within the U.S, distributed across gender and age. Most responses have a confidence interval of 4% at a 95% confidence level.