D&H Canada’s 2011 bets: Web everything

One could say it’s been a trend that dominated the last few years, but in the mind of D&H Canada general manager Greg Tobin, there’s an overarching theme to the distributor’s emerging technologies focuses for 2011: the Web.

“All roads for 2011 lead to the Web,” Tobin said. “Cloud computing, cloud-based devices, IPTV, tablets and eReaders, smartphones and their content.”

So it’s Web instead of the cloud, that most prominent of all 2010 buzzwords? Perhaps the two are interchangeable, or perhaps it’s the lack of clarity behind what exactly differentiates a cloud solution to one that’s Web-centric.

“I wish the word cloud could be more definitive – every application or every service is now the cloud,” he said.

First and foremost among those opportunities is the rise of “cloud” types of devices, such as the Pogoplug and its new Pogoplug Biz products, Web-connected cloud storage appliances that Tobin sees becoming more prominent in the sub 50-seat space in which D&H is so strong.

The company also has high hopes for wireless memory technologies, SD cards with WiFi built-in that allows users to transfer data from digital cameras and video cameras without the ubiquitous USB dongle.

Tablets are another major 2010 breakout category that is maintaining its luster, and Tobin said that he expects to see a lot of new vendors coming out at a lot of new price points, and further development for the field as it spends its first full year on the market en masse from a wide variety of vendors. But like the massive opportunity around smartphones, the carrier question comes into play for both distribution and the channel – to what extent will consumers be buying their tablet devices from resellers and retailers, versus from wireless carriers?

The Web effect has an interesting impact, on the acceptance of multiple devices, Tobin believes – whereas the attention has been around adding more and more functionality to smartphones and other convergence-type devices, he said that the Web-connected nature of devices may means that users are more open to specialist devices that don’t try to be jacks of all trades, but rather really shine as a single-function device,.

“The user can have multiple devices as long as each one of those devices is really good at what it does,” he said.

The emergence of 3D TV and other products was one of the biggest developments in the consumer electronics sphere in 2010 in terms of hype, but Tobin expects that 2011 will see the technology really rise to prominence in terms of use, but in the consumer and business spheres, with 3D-compatible displays and projectors, as well as graphics and processor hardware advances fueling greater acceptance.

“We really believe that 3D technology for the gamer and PC user will have a very high rate of growth,” he said. “Will it become mainstream? Not necessarily, but we’ll see some good adoption of that.”

Tobin’s also betting on a banner year for security products, and coming off the back of 2011, which brought us Aurora, Stuxnet and then Wikileaks, it’s hard to bet against it. “The level of consciousness on attacks in the general public will be elevated,” he predicted.

Beyond that, Tobin said he expects to see more cool new products and applications gaining more widespread consumer acceptance in the entertainment sphere. And the hub for those new products and apps? You guessed it. The Web.

“Wit the decreasing price points of hardware and network capacity, it’s just a question of time versus affordability,” for Web-centric entertainment options, Tobin said. But don’t get on it taking over quite yet.

“I see it as a supplement to satellite and cable, not a replacement,” he said.

Some of those opportunities will be around streaming media through products like D-Link’s new Boxee Box that allows users to stream content from their computer to their TV, as well as accessing services like Netflix in the living room.