Media industry to evolve in 2011

02 December 2010

LONDON: The partial decline of Facebook, new ways of watching TV and low cost smartphones are among the trends that could make a mark next year, The Futures Company has predicted.

The consultancy recently released a report outlining its projections for the media and technology landscape in 2011.

One key expectation is that Facebook's active user base under 30 years old might start to decrease, a shift which has already emerged in several surveys.

"We've been tracking a growing disenchantment and dipping enthusiasm for Facebook amongst young people for some time," the study said.

"Furthermore, the average age of a Facebook user is increasing. Could this mean that Facebook is growing old, not just growing up?"

Elsewhere, The Futures Company forecast massively multiplayer online games should attract greater numbers of users, and brands looking to connect with this audience.

The current record concerning simultaneous participation is held by Korea's Dungeon Fighter Online, at 2.2m people, but this benchmark is not anticipated to stand for long.

Another probable development is the roll out of a smartphone costing less than $100 (€76; £64) in the US, with Asian manufacturers like Huawei having launched entry-level handsets in Asia and Africa.

"A disruptive new entrant or a struggling existing player will turn this into an opportunity," The Futures Company argued.

Staying with mobile, large companies might also adopt a similar model to that pioneered by geo-location specialist Foursquare, awarding staff points and rewards when "checking in" and completing tasks.

Despite the buzz regarding the digital space, ratings for live "event-based" television are rising, suggesting media owners have begun adapting to the changing world.

"One of the reasons for this is because social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and TV company applications such as ITV Live, are increasing the value of the shared experience that traditional media offers," The Futures Company said.

An innovative product which is set to be unveiled in 2011 is a "brush TV" device allowing consumers to switch stations by moving in a certain way, following on from Microsoft's Xbox Kinect.

Less positive occurrences may include a rise in e-book piracy, as the popularity of gadgets like the Kindle grows, and the industry gains a closer footing to digital music and film.

More broadly, it is possible that the surge of online video, which now accounts for over half of US internet traffic, and appliances like the iPad could lead the web to crash.

"The architecture of the internet wasn't designed for huge synchronous exchanges of data. Something will break," The Futures Company warned.

Data sourced from The Futures Company; additional content by Warc staff