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As 2011 picks up steam and 2010 quickly becomes a memory, what trends can we expect to see in the coming year across the web?
Web sites will increasingly look at satisfying mobile web users. The expansion of the smart phone market means more mobile web users. However, the popularity of the mobile web is straining many wireless networks as users attempt to download video laden pages. The demand has impacted the performance users get, while service providers are increasing prices and lowering the bandwidth allowance of their service packages. To appeal to the mobile user, web designers need to make sure videos are available in a mobile friendly format. To satisfy the bandwidth conscious, make video play an option rather than automatic. Provide the visitor with a clear summary of what the video is about, so that they can conserve bandwidth if they choose to.
For those of you who need to be in-touch constantly, you can look forward to more location based service apps for your mobile to tell you where you are, who is nearby, what your friends thought about the area you are in, and much more. Location aware apps rely on GPS to pinpoint your location then provide you with information about nearby points of interest. There are an ever increasing number of apps available to satisfy a mobile user's individual needs and interests.
Love it or hate it, Flash is revamping its game to compete against the emerging competition for its creative niche. Recognizing the challengers threatening its market, Adobe has taken the proactive approach of working on a HTML5 editor and the ability for Flash to export files for HTML5-canvas.
In its favor, Flash is an established format which offers creativity and interactive performance combined. Less favorable are the file sizes. Visitors will not wait for fancy Flash files to load. Fault for file size is not solely a function of Flash, some responsibility must be placed on designers who fail to optimize the graphical content they use in their Flash files. Automatically loading sound and music files can be annoying web visitors too. But perhaps the greatest impediment to Flash remaining at top of the animated web world is the issue of Search Engine Optimization. Flash content is not reliably indexed by search engines. Recent improvements in search engine crawlers now allow Flash pages to be indexed, but it is by no means complete.
With traditional print media feeling the effects of the instant access world, many are facing an 'adapt or die' decision. Local papers have been forced to cut back on the number of editions they put out or have discontinued entirely. Larger print organizations are turning to the web to fight back. After offering its news free on the web, The Times (London) switch to a fee paying format. The increased reliance on mobile access to the internet is seen as a desirable target by publishers. People tend to read news and magazines away from their desks, making the mobile market an attractive focus for publishers who want to reach people at the time and place of the subscriber's choosing. It remains to be seen if there are enough subscribers willing to pay for real, factually accurate and well researched journalism.
The next iteration of your browser will probably be 'hardware-accelerated'. The idea behind hardware-acceleration is, of course, speed and better graphics. Scott Gilbertson (webmonkey.com) describes the process as "the browser hands off processor-intensive tasks to the computer's graphics processor to make animations and page rendering faster and smoother." Firefox 4, Chrome, Safari 5, and IE9 are taking advantage of hardware acceleration features supported by HTML5. Currently, hardware acceleration is available for Windows 7 browsers, but Firefox 4's design is reported to be structured for future support of hardware acceleration for Mac OS X and Linux.
The modern television is intertwined with the internet. With programming on demand services such as Hulu, Netflix and others, people have greater choice about when and what to watch. Having access to social networks on your television while streaming video is considered a feature by many. The emergence of Apple TV, Google TV and gaming consoles such as Wii, PlayStation and Xbox, continue to bring more internet features to the family television. Some televisions are now capable of connecting to the internet without an intermediate box. Bandwidth is an overriding issue with the TV/web duo. To take the pressure off internet service providers we can expect new compression and encoding technology in order to move files across the web faster and more efficiently to your TV.
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