9 tech predictions for 2009 from Deloitte

2009: Apple, Facebook, Asus happy; Orange, YouTube, 3G browsers not so much
2009: Apple, Facebook, Asus happy; Orange, YouTube, 3G browsers not so much

It's going to be a year of social networking, netbooks, smartphones and poor 3G connections, according to a series of prediction published today by consultancy firm Deloitte.

Yes, we know that sounds just like a round-up of 2008, but what do you expect from a world struggling to find spare change for a cup of tea, let alone fund major technological innovations?

1. The rise of the smart grid

In 2009, electricity is expected to account for over 16 per cent of all energy used, while the average efficiency of the world's electricity grids is just 33 per cent. Smart grids add computer intelligence and networking functions to boost efficiency and save up to a third more energy.

2. Netbooks flood the planet

Deloitte expects low-power, low-cost netbooks to be the fastest growing PC segment in 2009, with new models offering better processors and improved hard drives. We'll see the appearance of 'professional netbooks' and lots of subsidised products that lock users into 3G data bundles.

3. Facebook for the Fortune 500

2009 will be a breakout year for social networks as their irresistible chuminess woos the boardroom. Jargon to master: ESN (enterprise social networking).

4. UGC starts to cost

Hosting user-generated content could cost the largest sites over $100 million (£73 million) in 2009. But with advertisers being reluctant to place ads next to content that could damage their brand, sites might start charging users to upload or share content.

5. Mobile ads kick in

In 2009, campaigns will use the minimalism of mobile to powerful effect, copying the Obama campaign's successful use of text messaging.

6. 3D movies take over

Deloitte's bean counters reckon that 3D movies are on course to have their first billion-dollar year at the box office in 2009. Format confusion in the short term might force studios to choose between super high definition and three-dimensional entertainment.

7. Goodbye phone, hello wireless device

This year, mobile phonew will evolve out of being locked into traditional cellular networks. Instead they'll become devices using single wafer chipsets with five or more wireless technologies, from Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to 3G and faster. Just as radical, the cost of these multifunctional chipsets could drop below two dollars, meaning they'll pop up in gadgets from satnavs to cameras.

8. Application stores upset operators

In 2009, we're expected to download over 10 billion applications to our mobiles, the majority from sites managed by device manufacturers, CE firms and software houses. Faced with shrinking revenues, operators will concentrate on back-up storage, third-party link-ups and wholesaling location sensitivity into services.

9. 3G's slow-motion car crash

Think your 3G connection is slow today? Sales of dongles are expected to double to 8 million in 2009, creating massive data bottlenecks for operators already struggling with more data than voice traffic. The cost of upgrading their systems? Deloitte reckons it runs to the tens of billions (dollars or pounds, take your pick) - a real challenge in a year of decreased revenues.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.