…some big companies have 2010 written all over them, but will it turn out to be their year?

Let’s start with Microsoft who have until recently been shipping more smartphones worldwide than Apple and Google with only BlackBerry and Nokia beating them. ComScore have just reported that iPhone sales in the USA have now sneaked ahead of Windows mobile. Even their latest 6.5 version is showing its age – it does not take much digging to reach a UI not designed to work with fingers – how very last decade. But 2010 is the big year for Microsoft with Windows Phone 7.0 promising some great things. Originally scheduled for early in the year this new platform is now scheduled for later in 2010 but initial reports suggest it may be something special and worth the wait. 2010 will certainly be the make or break year for Microsoft’s mobile platform.
In addition to phone platforms, Microsoft are starting to get traction in search – their new Bing solution is delivering quality both on PC and mobile. Bing also has an excellent website that works well from mobile, making them an interesting option for mobile search marketing again. But Microsoft has still failed to really get into mobile marketing – will 2010 be the year Microsoft gets it?
 Yahoo! is very different. First they made the excellent decision to ditch Yahoo! Go and focus on the web – definitely the right way to go – use the well developed standards that work on all devices and do not require costly app development and maintenance. Although they have been quiet for much of 2009 this approach has allowed Yahoo! to sneak forward with some great operator search relationships around the world. They have a whole range of sites that work really well on mobile and their mobile advertising solutions are going from strength to strength. Some Bango customers are now reporting that Yahoo is delivering the best clicks and conversions from advertising and search marketing – money very well spent. Yahoo actually understands mobile and are focused on delivering on their core business rather than pandering to the latest distractions. Will this absolute focus serve them well in 2010?
Google has been increasingly focused on mobile recently – they are visibly putting considerably more resources into mobile than anyone else. Their mobile maps continue to get better as we enter 2010, with great location based results, turn by turn directions on Android and Latitude allowing you to share your whereabouts with friends (and Google). I suspect it won’t be long before we see some form of augmented reality added to their mobile Maps – perhaps as early as 2010.
2010 has been reported as the year of the Android phone – HTC has dominated the early market since the first (rather ugly) G1 handset was launched, but as we are about to enter 2010 many major handset manufacturers are starting to launch their Android assault. The new Motorola Droid (Milestone) is getting the best reviews since their old Razr went blunt. Initial reports of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 are very positive and we may even see it earlier than planned.
But the biggest rumour is whether Google will enter the hardware space themselves – have they got tired of waiting for their partners to deliver the iPhone killer blow they need? Are they about to step in with the heavy artillery? I suspect that the recent employee handout, of HTC built devices, is nothing more than a dogfooding exercise as Google reports. Giving everyone an early HTC Hero 2 would be a sensible way to test out the latest features and accelerate usability testing to beat the iPhone. It was also a great way to get a load of press coverage for Android. Either way it has caused many people to put their Chrismas phone upgrade on hold until more information surfaces.
But with all this phone hardware and software stuff going on what about their core business? How are things like the Google Chrome browser and operating system for netbooks helping Google? Is Google distracted enough to let Yahoo! and even Microsoft edge forward with banner advertising and search marketing? Are things like Google Goggles really helping their dominance of search or is it all just a gimmick? I predict that 2010 will see some interesting surprises in mobile marketing from Google.
I think there are clues to be had with their acquisition of AdMob – I suspect that is just the start of a bigger mobile advertising push with more to come in 2010. I suspect that the smart major companies will see the approaching mobile feeding frenzy and look to buy in much needed mobile expertise ahead of Google.
And what about Apple? Indeed – refreshing isn’t it…