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Of broadband and tablets

Jan 04 2010 23:15 Simon Dingle

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THERE are many reasons to be excited about 2010 from a technology perspective. For South Africans change is afoot in our telecommunications arena, and from a global point of view new devices, services and gadgetry will bait our wallets and offer some refreshing changes to computing.

In a couple of weeks, Apple is expected to announce a new product that, it is rumoured, will add a fresh layer to our personal computing stacks.

While nobody has seen the Apple tablet yet it is expected to be a 10.1 inch (26cm) touchscreen device - something like a big iPhone - aimed at media consumption, specifically content like books and magazines. Apparently your phone and laptop aren't enough; you need one of these tablet things too.

Next-generation publishing

Of course, any predictions of what the device will and won't do is mere speculation right now, but it has spurred the industry into a tablet frenzy with everyone from Google to Microsoft and smaller startups like Joojoo working on tablet devices for release in 2010. Tablets will be big this year - even if nobody's sure they need them.

Electronic books will be another strong area of focus, whether utilised on ebook readers, phones or these new tablet devices. Amazon with its Kindle store for ebooks, and accompanying hardware, had a phenomenal Christmas in 2009. In fact, more electronic books were sold than their conventional paper-based ancestors, suggesting that the age of the ebook is finally upon us.

Magazines and newspapers are next in line for a digital makeover as they are packaged for a new generation of digital devices. It has also been suggested that comic books and graphic novels will form part of Apple's strategy in the subscription space, given Steve Jobs' interests in Disney, which owns comic book company Marvel.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas kicks off this week and will see technology vendors announcing new product lines for 2010. Besides ebooks and tablets, another technology expected to feature prominently at the show is 3-D television.

As mentioned in a previous column, 3-D specifications have been approved for Blu-ray optical disks and commercial releases like James Cameron's Avatar are expected this year.

While many people have Blu-ray players compatible with the new standard, the market is still lagging in the actual televisions that are able to display three-dimensional video. However, starting this year these will become commonplace.

Back at home

In South Africa, the telecommunications industry will continue to change and grow in 2010. Analysts have told us to expect prices to continue to decrease amidst mounting competition, improved infrastructure and regulatory pressure.

In 2009 we saw undersea cable Seacom landing, the department of communications playing hardball with operators and some movement on the price front. The decreases might not have been what South Africans had hoped for, but it was a start and the trend will continue throughout 2010.

It's shaping up to be an exciting year. By the time 2011 rolls around, I expect to be knocking about with a tablet in my backpack, a much-improved internet connection for my home office, and at least one 3-D capable television set mounted on a wall in my house.

All this will ultimately mean less money in my pocket - but since when has that stopped technology enthusiasts?

- Fin24.com

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