The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

Summary: Apple's iPad, Windows Phone 7 and Mark Hurd's resignation from Hewlett-Packard were among the key surprises of 2010. Here's a look at my top surprises in order.

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Apple's iPad, Windows Phone 7 and Mark Hurd's resignation from Hewlett-Packard were among the key surprises of 2010. Here's a look at my top surprises in order.

  1. Apple's iPad. It wasn't like the iPad was a complete shocker when it launched (rumors were building as soon as the calendar turned). However, everything about the iPad since Steve Jobs first showed it off has been a surprise. What has been so surprising? Businesses are all over the iPad as a productivity tool. Many CIOs at the Gartner powwow---yes the same CIOs that built brick walls to keep the iPhone away---had iPads and came off as fan boys. Apple is an enterprise play now. In addition, it's shocking how flat-footed the iPad caught rivals. Apple probably will wind up with an almost two-year lead by time a credible iPad killer emerges. Android, Microsoft, HP and others are all scrambling. Apple's pricing strategy has been absolutely brilliant---and aggressive enough to keep the likes of Samsung at bay. Simply put, the launch of the iPad reinvented mobile computing.
  2. The death and rebirth of the e-reader. Here's a quick 2010 history lesson. At the Consumer Electronics Show, e-readers were everywhere. Startups were targeting Amazon's Kindle. Then the iPad arrived. These e-reader startups died and the Kindle looked like the iPad's ugly cousin. That iPad vs. e-reader storyline carried on because the pricing was similar. So what changed? Barnes & Noble cut the price of the Nook. Amazon matched and now you can get an e-reader for $139 or less. Guess what? E-readers aren't iPad comparisons anymore and look much better at a lower price point. Toss in e-book clouds on multiple devices such as the iPad, iPhone, Android and others and the e-reader market became very interesting again. In a nutshell, the e-reader race has three horses: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony.
  3. Windows Phone 7. Microsoft finally got a credible entry into the mobile OS race and the biggest surprise is that it is a viable system. Microsoft's app marketplace is growing. The OS is smooth and the user interface is unique. Given Microsoft's mobile woes the delivery and reception of Windows Phone 7 qualifies as a surprise with 1.5 million shipments to OEMs. Now Microsoft just has to sell Windows Phone 7 devices. To be determined is whether Microsoft's mobile effort may be a case of too little, too late.
  4. The rise of Salesforce.com. Now we all knew Salesforce.com was a big enterprise player and becoming more so. When it's all said and done 2010 will be a key inflection point for Salesforce.com. The company built out its platform nicely and is poised to become a key enterprise buy on multiple cloud fronts. Add it up and Salesforce.com is becoming a big threat to incumbent enterprise software players and going after the likes of SAP and Oracle hard. Exhibit A: Salesforce.com Marc Benioff worked CIOs at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo hard. He spent the day roaming around and chatting with CIOs and tech managers.
  5. Mark Hurd's resignation from Hewlett-Packard. The Hurd saga was one of the stranger tech events of 2010. First, there's the unexpected Friday afternoon resignation over fudged expense reports and sexual harassment allegations. Then there's the spectacle of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison defending Hurd and then hiring him. And the whole ordeal still won't die now that the Securities and Exchange Commission is poking around. HP's messaging on Hurd has been mixed, but it appears both parties have moved on.
  6. HP naming Leo Apotheker as CEO. If you thought Hurd's resignation was a surprise, the naming of former SAP CEO Apotheker was just as big of a shocker. Apotheker said he would boost research and development spending and increase HP's focus on software. HP also named former Oracle exec Ray Lane chairman. Needless to say, Ellison was yapping about this HP move too. Ellison derided the choice of Apotheker and then played the "where's Leo?" game during Oracle's TomorrowNow lawsuit against SAP. Meanwhile, Oracle tried to call the HP CEO to testify in the trial. Oracle won a $1.3 billion judgment against SAP and has declared HP public enemy No. 1. Also in the hell freezes over department: Oracle and IBM made up (for the most part) so they can gang up on HP. Good times for Apotheker.
  7. Since we're talking Oracle, another surprise for 2010 was the company's ability to become a contender in hardware. While rivals are panning Oracle's Exadata and Exalogic efforts, Ellison and the gang are booking pilots. Oracle also moved Sun into higher-margin areas and stopped doing silly things like selling gear at a loss. Now with Hurd as president 2011 will be the real tell for Oracle's hardware momentum. For now, it's clear that Oracle stopped the Sun bleeding quickly and may have some upside.
  8. Google takes on China over censorship. Google threatened a pullout over censorship and delivered. China tossed a few verbal grenades. The two sides seem to have agreed to disagree with U.S. diplomacy caught in the middle. Few U.S. companies challenge China---more probably should. Google wasn't exactly deft with its handling of China, but the moxie is appreciated. The bigger question in the years ahead: Is China just a money pit
  9. Palm's meltdown. The fact Palm struggled wasn't a big surprise, but the sheer velocity of the unraveling was shocking. Palm said in February that its revenue would be well below forecasts as a move to take the Pre to Verizon failed miserably. The company went from darling to the brink in just a few months. HP scooped Palm up and basically saved the company. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Elevation Partners, Palm's big shareholder, got out of that debacle nearly whole. It's unclear what HP will do with Palm, but that's what 2011 is for.
  10. It was a typical year in enterprise technology spending. In fact, 2010 looked downright boring. We had the Windows 7 upgrade cycle, data center and server upgrades. Storage and virtualization spending was also healthy. IT spending will wind up in the low-single digit growth rates. That's pretty boring---if you forget that 2009 was a complete trainwreck. When you factor in the year the tech industry was coming from, a ho-hum 2010 is a big victory.

Bonus surprise: Little predicted at CES 2010 actually happened. Remember Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talking about a slate on stage? That slate never quite arrived. We were also told 3DTV was going to be everything. Ummm, ok. People don't like wearing dumb goggles in the house. E-readers were the format of the day---oops. In fact, the only thing that lived up to its billing at CES was Microsoft's Kinect gaming system.

Bonus surprise 2: Where's Android? Frankly, the rise of Android wasn't much of a surprise. 2010 was shaping up to be the year of Android. The success---and rate of market share gains---could easily have been in the top 10.

Topics: Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, iPad, Microsoft, Mobility, Oracle

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33 comments
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  • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

    That's right, NUMBER ONE.

    iPad.

    Deal with it Microshills.

    Windows FLOP Phone 7 is gonna die.
    cyberslammer2
    • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

      @cyberslammer2 What do you have to say to those of us who own both an iPad and a new Windows Phone? In fact, I ditched my iPhone 3GS and upgraded to a Samsung Focus with Windows Phone 7. Why? Because, to me, it's just better in so many ways. I don't really care about Apple/Microsoft; I just love GREAT products regardless of who makes them.

      Quit being such a troll.
      Kingw00t
    • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

      @cyberslammer2 : you are a retard, a moron and an utter imbecile. Yep, you can cry all you want about being an ad hominem attack, but I have found that when trollboys like you are given arguments, no matter how logical or well constructed they are, they reject them because they are already booked to a religion. So, there you go, I won't debate with an idiot like you. Have a wonderful day, loser.
      nomorebs
      • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

        @nomorebs Yeah, but for a retard, moron, and an utter imbecile, I have a fat investment portfolio, no debt and a nice fat bank account.

        It's good to be mentally challenged. :)
        cyberslammer2
      • "fat investment portfolio, no debt, and a nice fat bank account"

        @cyberknobslobber

        If you [i]really did[/i] have those things...at least we know it's not from IT, you know...like installing XP on a SATA drive???

        Naw, I'm betting the wealth you're talking about is your parents, who are upstairs right now doing a facepalm because of their idiot son.
        SonofaSailor
      • cyberslammer2, you are most likely lying,

        yet you continue to attempt to deceive those here into believing you are more then you actually are.

        Though if you where to be "debt free", then that would indicate that you do not own a house, adding weight to the argument that you likely still live with your parents.

        :|
        Tim Cook
      • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

        @nomorebs Thanks for sharing. i really appreciate it that you shared with us such a informative post..
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        disturbforce
    • Well, it is nice that the iPad was a success as

      it is quite obvious that Apple would have long since disappeared had they been forced to rely on their computer division alone for profits.<br> :|
      Tim Cook
      • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

        @Mister Spock

        I don't necessarily agree with this statement. You have to remember, Apple back in the day was a home computer powerhouse. People trusted Macintosh. Windows came by and stole their thunder, but there were always people who remembered how good Mac's worked.; they would always have had a decent following, but if it weren't for the success of the ipod I don't think Apple would have been as big as it is now.
        KBot
      • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

        @Mister Spock, like MS you have totally missed the point. Apple is doing well because it is recreating its computers in the form of iphones and ipads. They have leveraged the way people work today with the technology available and created a new way we will use computers. They are not perfect by a long shot but Apple has more vision and creativity then any other player out there. MS can't seem to see their own two feet.
        Kabcock
    • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

      @cyberslammer2

      I'm financially comfortable as well but just not as moron as you.
      live.tiles
    • How Sad

      @cyberslammer2, I feel sorry for anyone who hates one company so much, and so blindly follows another. Imagine, wanting a company to fail - how pathetic.

      These products are tools, used to do work. They are not statements on how cool you are. I pick the tool that best serves my needs, and I don't make that decision based on irrational hate for or love of any particular vendor.

      You are the very definition of a loser.
      Stoshie
  • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

    Not surprised.
    james347
  • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

    Windows Phone 7 was not a surprise. It was announced in 2009 and we had our tempests in teapots about having both 6.5 and 7 back then. I may not prefer their products, I may ridicule the folks who name their products, but I have no doubt that Microsoft has the talent and occasionally the will to unleash their engineers and make great software.<br><br>Would Kin's ballyhoo and withdrawal count as a better candidate for top ten surprise? What about top personnel changes at Microsoft?<br><br>I think that Hurd's resignation would be my pick for number 1, though, given all the turmoil at the top of HP's pyramid (Fiorina, overpaying for Compaq, wiretapping the Board and reporters), maybe that isn't a surprise.<br><br>Much as Oracle suing Google is and isn't a surprise.<br><br>We had Paul Allen suing the world for having internet pages. Surprise?<br><br>We had the Supreme Court punt on Bilski, agreeing that the patent office was right in denying, but not agreeing on why, and giving no guidance for future applications for business methods and software. Disappointment? Yes. Surprise? Not really.<br><br>The more I think about it, if you need another top ten list this week, how about the top ten things that were and weren't surprises.
    DannyO_0x98
  • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

    Larry, why must you use the term "iPad killer"? It's an old term for something that won't happen. Sure Apple comes out with a product that surprises everyone, but that doesn't mean that everyone in the tech world has to think the next product is going to be a "killer".
    Keonidas
  • Apple is an Enterprise play now?

    Say that to those who bought Xserves and are being told use to Mac Mini's and workstations as "servers". And we have more than 50 iPads here where I work, and they are anything _but_ enterprise. Can they run some good apps? Sure. Do they have a great mobile form factor? No doubt. But deployment, configuration, and maintenance is horrible in large numbers. Apple is nowhere near enterprise friendly yet.
    crazydanr
    • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

      @crazydanr@...
      That is because all you administrators in the Fortune 500 companies make things so complicated where they could be so much simpler... Take a cue from Apple. Consumer and enterprise software does not have to be that different... For example, if enterprise software came in simple apps doing a few things really well, rather than the "swiss army knife" bloatware, user experience, training and administration would be a lot simpler.

      You know the IBM motto "THINK and Apple motto "THINK DIFFERENT". Why don't you people use your brain.
      prof123
      • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

        @prof123 <br>Maintaining a network of 3,000 clients, 100 servers, and 10 sites requires that centralized authentication, VPN access, terabytes of storage that requires redundancy and backups, data warehousing, managing millions of documents... that's pretty much the definition of an enterprise.<br><br>Our end users have swiss army knives because that's what they need to have to get the job done. They don't sit around all day playing angry birds and downloading from iTunes, which I get the impression that your job as a professor entails. <br><br>I've used Apple products, I own a touch, and have deployed over 50 iPads. We have iMacs and Macbook pro's here where I work, so as the network admin, I can tell you deploying and managing their products is a PITA. They haven't grasped the idea of enterprise, and neither have you.
        crazydanr
      • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

        @crazydan

        I think that you have not comprehended that things can be done simpler. For example, cloud computing on highly scalable platforms and web based applications... Even MS can see the writing on the wall.
        prof123
      • RE: The year in review: 10 technology surprises in 2010

        @prof123, you speak in generalities, offering no specifics. That tells me that you have no experience in the area you pretend to have the answers for.

        Try listening to people that have experience and know what they are talking about instead of just spouting marketing bs.
        Stoshie