Science

Smartphones, tablets to top PCs in 2011: report

Canadians will buy more smartphones and tablets than personal computers this year, says Deloitte Canada's annual report on technology trends.

Traditional TV still strong; free Wi-Fi to hit big box stores

Canadians will buy more smartphones and tablets than personal computers this year, a new trend, says Deloitte Canada's annual report on where technology is headed.

"For the first time, we're buying more new computing devices that aren't traditional PCs," said Duncan Stewart, director of research and co-author of 2011's trends.

The report predicts that 425 million smartphones and tablets are going to be sold this year, versus 400 million personal computers.

The personal computer isn't "dead" and there will always be a time and a place for one, but it has changed its shape and form, Stewart said.

TV as 'super media'

Traditional TV will still be a kingmaker, defying predictions of obsolescence because of new technologies, Stewart said from Toronto.

Television will strengthen its status in 2011 as the current "super media," he said.

Viewers around the world will watch 140 billion more hours of television than last year, worldwide TV advertising will increase by $10 billion and the global TV audience will grow by 40 million, to 3.7 billion viewers, said the report.

TV shows also will be the most common conversation topic around the world and the subject of more than a billion Twitter tweets, the report on technology, media and telecommunications said.

Stewart noted that only about three per cent of all TV that Canadians watched was from their personal video recorders.

"Overwhelmingly, when people sit down on the sofa, they turn their brains off and let it all wash over them," he said of TV.

Free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi networks in retail stores are set to take off with 25 per cent of North American big box stores and major retailers to offer it to shoppers, the study also predicted.

Nordstrom, an upscale U.S. department store, and Sam's Club discount warehouse owned by Wal-Mart both offer in-store Wi-Fi to their customers to allow them to do web-based price comparisons with smartphones and other devices.

Customers are already doing comparison shopping and retailers know this, Stewart said.

"If you don't let them do it in your stores, they're going to come to your store, look at your stuff, maybe take a picture of it and then leave your store. Never encourage people to leave your store."

Retailers then have the opportunity to match prices and offer coupons to customers, he said.

Social media

On social media, Stewart said there are likely to be more than one billion unique members this year and these networks will sell more than two trillion advertisements.

But at this point, ad revenues from these social networks will be about $5 billion — less than one per cent of worldwide advertising spending. Stewart said that's because ad rates are likely to remain low compared with other forms of online advertising and traditional media.

4G to fall short

The study also predicted that fourth-generation wireless networks, suited for fast video streaming, will fall short of industry expectations because of the continuing viability of existing advanced networks.

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