Software development predictions for 2010

The Web and mobile devices will remain the hot platforms, but not every player may survive through the end of the year

If I had to choose one phrase to sum up what developers can expect from 2010, it would be "more of the same" -- in the best possible way. This year saw the Web and mobile platforms rise to prominence as the key app dev technologies for the enterprise, and this trend will only accelerate in coming months, particularly as the two disciplines converge.

Chrome, SharePoint big winners on the Web
The Chrome browser may be the biggest winner of 2010 -- expect its user base to skyrocket. Given Google's rapid development pace, by year's end Chrome should be a fully cross-platform browser, with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux ports on equal footing, to say nothing of Chrome OS. The recent addition of extension support will further increase its popularity.

[ Before 2010 arrives, see how InfoWorld's Neil McAllister did with his forecasts for the previous year in "2009 software development predictions put to the test." | Keep up with app dev issues and trends with InfoWorld's Fatal Exception and Strategic Developer ]

Who loses if Chrome gains? Not Internet Explorer -- Microsoft's installed base is too entrenched. But the small yet vocal group of Firefox users who are disillusioned with Mozilla's development road map could be enough to trigger an exodus if their complaints grow sufficiently strident. As usual, this debate will play out first in message boards and then in the blogs, but it could heat up quickly.

A two-front browser war puts extra pressure on Microsoft, though. I somehow doubt we'll see the final version of IE 9 in 2010, but a Technology Preview release could emerge before the end of the year. More likely, Microsoft will play its old trick of talking up the planned features of the new release before they're finalized, as it did with Windows Vista. Expect rumors of the Gazelle project to resurface, along with talk to Microsoft Web appliances.

But one big win for Microsoft, I expect, will be SharePoint 2010. With this release, Microsoft has made a serious bid to crown SharePoint as the spiritual successor to Lotus Notes/Domino for rapid business application development -- only this time it's all based on Web technologies. Vendor lock-in or no, SharePoint 2010 is going to prove irresistible for many small businesses. Wise developers in Microsoft shops will start getting up to speed now.

Palm and Android join forces
Although Chrome looks to be a home run for Google, the future for Android isn't quite so clear. Handset manufacturers promise lots more models in 2010, but so far, I haven't seen customers fall in love with Android phones the way they do their iPhones.

All the more reason for Apple to mount a preemptive strike. I'll go out on a limb and say 2010 will be the year Apple drops its exclusive arrangement with AT&T, and iPhones start appearing on other carriers' networks. When offered a real choice, I doubt even die-hard Verizon customers would choose a Droid over an iPhone -- but maybe Android 2.1 (or later) will prove me wrong.

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