With 2010 now a few weeks old, we at Web Wise Business
have been considering what the year ahead is likely to have in store for online markets. As is the trend for New Year posts, we have collected our top 3 online markets set for rapid growth in 2010 below.
Where possible we have tried to back these predictions up with background information and evidence, but by all means, feel free to voice your own opinions or predictions for the year ahead online in the comments section below.
Up first on our predictions for the top 3 growth markets online in 2010 are virtual goods. 2009 showed another notable growth in online transactions with huge numbers of shoppers choosing to forgoe the weather, ques, travelling and desperation driven sales staff during the recession to shop online for goods instead. On Christmas day alone, online sales were up by 29%, with online retailers taking over £132 million. This was followed by over £281 million being spent online on Boxing Day as shoppers ditched raiding through the sales bargains in packed stores for browsing at leisure from home.
While these figures were largely for physical products, the purchase of virtual goods is beginning to emerge as shoppers choose to forgoe many tangible products now also. While the sale of virtual goods isn't exactly new, with many video games manufacturers truly adopting the approach last year and Apple having dominated the sale of music, movies and applications for a couple of years now through iTunes
, the figures and trends seem to suggest that it is set for some significant growth in 2010.
The popularity of social media games on sites such as Facebook, and the purchase of additional low value content and extras on these games continues to grow. Last year gaming giant Electronic Arts payed over £170 million for social media games producer Playfish, who's games include purchasable virtual goods, while Venture Capitalists poured over £110 million into Zynga, a Russian based social media game producer valued at an estimated £1.85 billion. According to sources, virtual goods account for 90% of Zynga's annualised revenue of around £200 million.
Clearly a sign that big things are expected of this market.
Barely days into the New Year Google, one of the worlds largest and continually growing brands
, released it's own mobile handset aimed at competing with the dominance of Apple's iPhone. While not exactly off to an auspicious start, having only sold 20,000 units in it's first week largely due to limited purchasing points and poor customer service (to put this in perspective - Vodaphone last week sold 50,000 iPhones on their first day of offering the handset), the fact that Google are now pretty firmly in the market, not only with their Andoid OS platform, but now with a handset means that they will likely continue to pour more effort and resource into the market in 2010.
Mobile Marketing is another area that will likely see growth this year. While the ability to browse the internet through mobile handsets is far from new, the continued developments and advancements of smartphones such as Apple's market leading iPhone mean that the scope is now there for mobile marketing to really take off.
While still relatively under-utilised by many companies, previously due to the requirement for a larger audience of smartphone users to really justify significant investment in the activity, it is clear that a number of large organisations have plans for mobile marketing. Organisations such as Apple who recently, for the first time in it's history, bought over an advertising/sales company in the form of mobile marketing agency Quattro Wireless.
Don't be surprised if 2010 holds a lot in store for mobile and it's applications online.
2009 saw a great deal of turmoil online for news publishers. As the recession bit deeply into the already declining advertising revenues, online monetisation of news content became a hot topic. News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch boldy claimed that his companies news sites such as the New York Post, The Times and The Sun would begin charging for content and that people would be willing to pay for it due to both the value of the content and the fact that News Corp newspapers are typically first to break the latest news.
However, the inherent difficulty with charging for news online seems to be the fact that people have become accustomed to being able to freely access news on the web, and the the variety of means with which news now reaches us has been greatly expanded since the dawn of the internet. Any pay walls created to restrict free access to news content are likely to turn-off a number of readers who will likely look for free sources elsewhere instead.
2010 is expected to be the year where many publications currently offering their content online for free transition to paid content. It is worth keeping an eye on who actually follows through with this idea and how successful they are with it. The inherent difficulty with transitioning from a free model to paid for content is that people have become accustomed to free access and any pay walls can simply encourage them to look elsewhere for freely available news.
It should prove interesting though to see whether the continued growth in usage of e-readers, coupled with the impending craze for new tablet devices, such as Apple's hotly anticipated iPad tablet
device, assist in the conversion of print publications free readers into paying readers.
So there you have it, Web Wise Business' pick of the 3 top online markets to watch in 2010.
Have your own opinion of what 2010 has in store online? Maybe you disagree with our own picks?
Feel free to let us know in the comments.