BOSTON, 20 DECEMBER 2010 - We were wrong -- so far -- that Carol Bartz would be ousted as Yahoo CEO by the end of this year, but we were right that Apple's tablet, whose name wasn't known at the end of last year, would be huge. OK, so that second one was probably a given, but not all of our 2010 predictions were so easy. We think the same is true with our 2011 predictions.
Sometimes a cliche works best
We hesitate to call 2011 "the year of the tablet" since that sounds like a tired cliche already, but the coming year will be pivotal for that market and for applications developed for tablets. While tablets will increasingly find use in enterprises, we agree with Jeremy Liew, Lightspeed Venture Partners managing director, that a tablet "doesn't necessarily live in your office or outside your home. I think it lives in your living room -- that's the natural place for it." As such, games that are more complex and take longer to play, compared to those that are suitable for smartphones or other mobile devices, will increasingly be developed, and tablet applications will more and more befit the device's "natural home," which is relaxing on the couch.
And while Android-based tablets will be competitive, none will catch up with the iPad in 2011.
Ellison gives Benioff the ultimate comeuppance
The perennial rumor that Oracle will buy on-demand software vendor Salesforce.com will come true. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison have a long history, marked of late by public acrimony that belies the fact that Benioff once worked for Ellison.
Salesforce.com's Force.com platform is powered by Oracle's database and its Apex programming language has roots in Oracle-owned Java. Salesforce.com also has something Oracle doesn't: Tens of thousands of small to medium-size companies as customers of its CRM (customer relationship management) software. In turn, Oracle's ownership would give Salesforce.com greater cachet in the largest enterprises, potentially enabling it to strike global deals for CRM and its emerging portfolio of complementary, social-enabled applications.
IBM or HP will buy SAP
SAP is among the last big stand-alone business apps vendors; it's also the largest of that breed. It's getting harder and harder to stay independent these days, with the trend inexorably toward integration and consolidation. Oracle is building highly integrated systems from its own servers, database and hardware, and IBM and HP may need to do the same to compete. It would be a big change in strategy for IBM, but then the tech landscape has never looked quite like this. HP is now run by SAP's ex-CEO, Leo Apotheker, so he knows the business inside out.
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