Predictions: The Fabulous 5 for 2010

As the first decade of the 21st century draws to a close, we are on the cusp of another massive change in technology, one that will involve a new, more dynamic two-way experience with the web. However, instead of making specific predictions as to which technologies will win (or lose) in 2010, I am instead going to focus on five companies that I believe will be making headlines in the coming year (the same ones I ticked off during a panel discussion last week at Media Predicts 2010, an event hosted by PRSA-Silicon Valley in Mountain View, Calif.): Apple (s AAPL), Amazon (s AMZN), Comcast (s CMCSA), Twitter and Facebook.

Apple: Whether it was Steve Jobs’ health, booming iPhone sales, its $33 billion cash hoard, criticism of its App Store policies or its new iMacs, Apple kept itself in the news for most of 2009. The next 12 months are going to be no different, especially with speculation over a rumored Tablet expected to reach a fever pitch. Newer iPhones, cooler iPods and perhaps even a new Apple TV — who knows what the Cupertino Dream Factory will release. One thing is for sure: Apple’s gravy train is going to roll on.

Amazon: The media industry is going through some serious convulsions, and certain camps see its future in emerging e-reader devices. That alone will keep Amazon and its fast-selling Kindle e-reader in the news throughout 2010. And as the company adds Kindle functionality to mobile phones and emerging connected devices such as Apple’s rumored Tablet (it’s impossible to overstate Amazon’s one-click buying capabilities), most of the other e-readers, I feel confident in predicting, are going to meet their maker. Meanwhile, Amazon is going to cause further disruption in the computer infrastructure industry as it keeps pushing its web services and cloud computing vision. And while it will see competition from Microsoft’s Azure, the company will continue to win, thanks to a groundswell of support from a new generation of entrepreneurs, developers and startups. The federal government and large businesses are taking Amazon’s on-demand computing offerings seriously as well.

Comcast: A day after I made my predictions at the PRSA-Silicon Valley event, Comcast announced a $37.25 billion deal with General Electric that will marry NBCU and its content machine to the cable operator’s offerings. Paul Sweeting, an analyst with GigaOM Pro, in a research note (sub. req’d) that breaks down the deal and its impact argues that Comcast’s quest to become an entertainment behemoth is going to earn the deal very close scrutiny in Washington. But that’s nothing compared to the attention the company’s going to increasingly receive thanks to its stance on metered broadband and network neutrality.

Twitter: 2009 was practically flawless for Ev Williams & Co.! The San Francisco-based company became the media darling (for proof, look no further than Oprah), which in turn helped grow the micromessaging service’s user base to over 50 million subscribers, which in turn allowed the company to raise nearly $155 million to be valued at $1 billion. So where does it go from here? That’s the big question for Twitter in 2010. The management team — which now includes Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo, founder of Feedburner — will need to find new users, a revenue model and at the same time stave off its archrival, Facebook. Whether Twitter gets stronger or starts to swoon, it’s going to be one helluva story in 2010.

Facebook: Like an aging slugger, the Silicon Valley ecosystem desperately needs a cortisone injection to alleviate its pains, which the Palo Alto-based social network giant is going to provide when it files for an initial public offering. In 2010, the fast-growing social network is going to cross the 500 million subscribers-mark and showcase a new advertising system, which is only going to boost its revenues and profits, thus making it the hottest IPO since Google. Just as Google pulled Silicon Valley out of its post-dot-com doldrums, by sending a successful poke to Wall Street, Facebook will open the floodgates for dozens of startups that have more than $100 million in revenues, are profitable and are desperate to go public. And that means more venture dollars will flow to startups, thus leading Silicon Valley to another up cycle.

Image courtesy of Laughlin via Flickr.