Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : January 2012

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Tablets Take Over

The iPad reigned supreme in 2011, as consumers began to find continuing value in what at first seems like a toy. Here at the MSBA, tablets were used at conferences more than ever before, as they provide a quick, convenient way to take notes and communicate without a bulky laptop. Other tech companies began to mine for the same success as the iPad, including RIM Blackberry’s PlayBook and HP’s TouchPad, but neither saw significant sales until the price was dropped significantly. For those with $500 to spend, the iPad is the clear winner, but the Kindle Fire is an appealing choice at $199. Kindle Fire will tempt users with a large variety of content (and less cash), whereas the iPad is more dependent on apps.  The iPad2 will continue to tempt new users despite some new competition, as rumors of new iPad models in early 2012 could drop the price tag of the current iPad2. 

Smartphone Owners on the Rise

According to Nielsen, more than 43 percent of all US households own a Smartphone as of November 2011, which reflected a five percent increase compared to six months before.  It is likely that this figure to rise above the 50 percent mark in 2012. Android has continued its hold on the majority of Smartphone users at 43 percent, and the iPhone has held steady at 28 percent. Android’s application to a variety of price points will help continue dominance over iPhone, but perhaps not forever. Do expect to see an increase in iPhone users now that the popular phone is available from multiple wireless carriers. Blackberry devices will likely continue to decline as their technology has failed to keep up or anticipate user’s habits.

Streaming Media Keeps Flowing

Last year saw an increasing availability of wifi-capable televisions and streaming devices offered by companies like Logitech, Sony, and newcomer Roku. Streaming media has become a convenient alternative to cable and DVR devices in household living rooms. Netflix had a few missteps this year, but the attempt to separate DVD rentals to a separate company only emphasized the increasing popularity of instantly available media.  Hulu has continued to offer an expanding list of network television shows. Amazon’s Instant Video Service is quickly stepping up the competition with deals to provide FOX network content in 2011. You’ll likely see more consumers rely on streaming media rather than cable television in 2012. Expect the available content to increase.

Social Overload

Midway through 2011, Google released Google+, the search engine company’s  long-awaited answer  to Facebook. While the social networking platform has garnered some attention and has seen a rise in new subscribers through the end of the year, Facebook will continue to try to dominate user’s time. Facebook is projected to reach a billion users in 2012, despite growing concerns over piracy and user agreements. Facebook has also introduced a new interface called Timeline, and sources anticipate further changes and improvements that may integrate streaming video and audio. Twitter likely will remain the same, but MySpace could stage a music-driven reinvention just to keep Facebook on it’s toes.  One thing is certain: people will continue to find new ways to use social media in 2012.

War to Continue Over Copyrighted Content

In 2012, you can also expect an ongoing battle over the “Stop Online Piracy Act”, also known as SOPA, in addition to the Protect IP act. These bills have been introduced in the legal system in an attempt to prevent various forms of piracy, targeting the IP address or the host of the content. There are some details of the bill being worked on, but it is being contested by many web companies for a variety of concerns over privacy and censorship of the internet. The outcome of these bills could greatly change the United State’s digital landscape in 2012, so watch to see how these bills shift perspectives in the coming year.

Tanya Roberts is the website assistant at the MSBA, assisting sections with their webpages and e-newsletters. For comments or questions, please send an email to troberts@msba.org

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Publications : Bar Bulletin : January 2012

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