Year-End Round-Up: Digital in 2011, Part 1


ADOTAS – 2011 was a year in which there was more change in technology than I can remember, some of it exceptionally surprising. Nokia and Microsoft, formerly arch rivals, joined forces — and somehow managed to deliver a Nokia phone armed with Windows Mobile 7 within nine months. HP bought, introduced and then, within a month, killed its first tablet offering, and seemingly sat on its acquisition of Palm for months, only recently announcing what they would do with their WebOS. Apple made tremendous progress from the iPad to the iPad 2, leaving competitors in the dust and giving the market a phenomenal pass-down in the process. Coworkers, children, and younger siblings never got such a good pass-down product so fast. The new iPads are now everywhere, from airplanes to classrooms.

The iPad, of course, is a testament to the genius of the late Steve Jobs, whose passing earlier this year shook the world of technology and leaves a potentially gaping void — but still, I think Jobs’ legacy will prove to be lasting. As Apple migrates from “What will Steve do next?” to “What would Steve have done?,” the company will be tested. Jobs may have left plans for Apple well beyond his passing (his output in the final year of his life is truly mind-boggling); so of course, without his assertive style of management, there will be some struggles for the company as they enter the Tim Cook era.

And through all of this, the world of tech was increasingly entering into the mainstream, with the news cycle dominated by product and company announcements and a whole new generation of adopters eager to talk about their new devices. 2011 marked a turning point in how we talk about — and therefore, how we utilize — digital technology. Every year for the past five years, Fjord has released its Fjord Digital Trends forecast for the coming 12 months. Sometimes we’re right; sometimes we’re wrong. But as we prepare for the release of our 2012 predictions, I wanted to look back at those we made for 2011, this busy year in tech, to see where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.

2011 Prediction: Pimp Your Life, Gaming Style

Foursquare mayors have to work hard to maintain their positions — their places assured not by campaigning but by customer loyalty. With its Radar feature, it becomes a local guide and, for many, a trail of places visited. Instead of just check-ins, the service takes up a central place in the social and local scene, providing increasingly creative marketing solutions (and, for the user, still offering a competitive experience). In 2011, perhaps spurred by Foursquare’s lead, we saw that anything can become a contest — customer loyalty, yes, but also household chores, weight loss, physical activity and more. And for the less competitive amongst us, gamification offers a platform for encouragement. Facebook, for instance, is the stage on which you can act out the play of your weight loss, your increasingly challenging jogging routes, your quest to find the best hamburger in New York: Your friends, your audience, are there to applaud your achievements. The dual spheres of competition and encouragement are moving beyond the realm of social and into the real world, with marketers seeing the value of making their campaigns games. Brands are tapping into our naturally competitive instincts and rewarding us for striving against our peers.

Lifeboats for the “App Flood”

With more devices launched in 2011, there are now even more places where you can buy apps. But how can you keep them all straight? Aggregators like Appolicious this year helped us find apps, but 2011 also saw the launch of several “Super Apps” — apps like Angry Birds that transcended the app store and took on lives of their own, marketed initially through their ranking and valued through CPMs. Angry Birds has even taken on a life outside of the app world, with t-shirts, stuffed toys, and even a retail store in the works.

Return to this space on Tue., Dec. 27, to read Christian Lindholm’s analysis of how the rest of Fjord’s predictions for 2011 have checked out, a year after they were initially made.



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