The Hottest New Products and Trends of 2009

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2009 was chock-full of new trends and innovations. The relentless march of new technologies brought about more powerful devices in smaller packages, enabling such new devices as advanced smartphones, more e-book designs, and powerful lightweight netbooks.

Let's take a quick review of some of this year's best new products. Leave a comment below on what you think the best product or trend was, in 250 words or fewer, and the best response will win a free year of our growth-oriented Rule Breakers newsletter!

Smartphones: The year saw numerous new models that kept this growing field as competitive as ever. Palm started out the year by announcing its sleek Pre phone, which featured a slick interface that allowed easy multitasking between applications. At the tail end of the year, Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) released its Droid phone to rave reviews. Of course, you couldn't forget about Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) most recent revamp of its iPhone, which featured a big bump in processor speed that promises to make the phone a more serious force in mobile gaming.

E-readers: The reigning king of e-books, Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) , released a new generation of Kindles. However, several competitors served notice that Amazon won't control this market without a fight. Sony and Barnes & Noble released competing offerings, while several small, private companies, like Plastic Logic and iRex, also announced ambitions in this growing segment.

Netbooks: The year saw several advancements in netbooks. In addition to new netbooks from the usual players, like Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) , Hewlett-Packard, and Asian manufacturers like Asus, Nokia jumped into the segment. However, netbook news wasn't limited to hardware advancements. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) announced a new operating system that's tailored to run on netbooks. Its Chrome OS will require fewer resources, focusing the computer instead on running through a Web browser.

All the products above might foreshadow a larger trend toward more lightweight, Internet-connected consumer devices that bridge the gap between products listed above. Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) certainly believes this; it recently announced a new product that will function in a space between netbooks and smartphones. Apple's rumored tablet or Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Courier concept also look to test consumer demand for this niche. And we haven't even mentioned innovative trends in energy or health care -- such as online medical records.

So leave a comment below on what you thought this year's hottest product or trend was and why. You can elaborate on an idea from above or let the Fool community know about something else. The best comment under 250 words -- as determined by our editorial staff -- wins a one-year digital subscription to our Rule Breakers newsletter. You can review full contest rules here. Also, remember to keep checking into Fool.com all day as we're releasing new contests every hour!

Eric Bleeker owns shares of no companies listed above. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Dell, Microsoft, and Nokia are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Motley Fool Options recommended a diagonal call strategy on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool's disclosure policy bundled up in a Snuggie last night and watched a movie. It owed itself a nice relaxing night.


Read/Post Comments (15) | Recommend This Article (14)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 5:17 PM, darkstarsky44 wrote:

    I think one area that may not have been the "hottest product" of 2009 and one that most individuals would be unfamiliar with but is certain one of the "hottest trends" of 2009 and into 2010 would be Cloud Computing. Fools, this is going to be a tremendous technology paradigm shift for business, customers and users. This technology is disruptive and as it gain more traction into 2010, this will be one of the leading technology trends into the second decade of this century. This is the next evolution of the internet and there will be certain companies (i.e. VMW) that would come out as huge winners.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 5:23 PM, blesto wrote:

    The enTourage eDGe could be the next trend.

    Here, it speaks for itself;

    http://www.entourageedge.com/entourage-edge.html

    Two screens, one in color and the other an ereader. I really like the feature that you can write notes in the book you're reading.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 5:42 PM, Danaerp wrote:

    I never had a cell phone in my life until I purchased an iPhone in May 2009. Now I can tell when a bus is coming in real time...that is progress to me!!

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 5:43 PM, thorthedog wrote:

    While not a tech breakthrough, the Keurig single cup coffee makers have been hot, especially with the everyone rushing to provide single cup coffee/tea/cocoa portions.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 5:51 PM, bglaze250 wrote:

    While 2010 isn't going to be the year of cloud computing, but it may seem like that. As companies start to compete in the race to gain market share in a new and unstable field - providing software solutions via the internet - cloud computing it going to seem like the Next Big Thing. While it may not be commercially viable for some time, the big names, including MFST, N, and INTC, are putting their own money on the table - whether investing in cloud computing this early in the game remains to be seen.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 5:55 PM, otherportland wrote:

    Smartphones, particularly the iPhone is the gamechanger in 2009. I just bought an iPod nano and already regret purchasing a device that "only" does music. These smartphones will quickly become ubiquitous and used in ways we haven't even anticipated yet..

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 5:59 PM, longtermgrowth09 wrote:

    I dont think that a smartphone or a netbook can be the next big thing.

    Clearly the companies that will dominate the non-software era will be the top performers of the next ten years.

    I think that Salesforce.com is the same that Amazon after the dot com bubble in 2000. However, judging a fundamentally strong company on a PE basis could be a wrong choice, so i think that overall we have a strong stock that is not cheap given traditional metrics but it can justify it because of the tremendous growth potential and 1 trillion size of the cloud computing industry.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 7:39 PM, TMFmd19 wrote:

    The speed of the internet has proven to be the biggest trend of the past year. As the net becomes faster with the help of companies like Akamai (as well as expanded fiber optics), it has enabled smartphones like the iphone to become hot items. Their technology is going to support continued innovations such as HD videos streaming so you can watch any video on any device at any time. As the internet becomes faster companies like salesforce.com can lead the cloud computing revolution with sites like force.com. Its a very exciting time for tech.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2009, at 11:13 PM, TMFRhino wrote:

    Great comments all, to address a couple specifically:

    darkstarsky44,

    Hard to disagree we'll see continued progress on cloud computing this year. I was going to write more about that above (But... I already have enough of a problem with word count limits as is ;)), but even this year showed some great signs for the field. Beyond VMW, you also saw Google release a OS based on the idea of cloud computing and Salesforce.com continuing to deliver fantastic quarters. In any case, I'd also hedge a bit with what bglaze said above, it'll still remain to be seen who can actually profit from the trend and maintains a reasonable valuation relative to actual adoption rates of cloud computing practices. Anyway, before I praddle on too much, I think you're on the ball picking VMW as a great play on the trend.

    Blesto,

    I'm pretty excited about the enTourage too, if for any reason to see what Marvell's new Armada processor (or SoC) can deliver for it. Actually, the platform reminds me a bit of what Microsoft's working on with its Courier concept. Definitely an interesting product to watch.

    thorthedog,

    Not disagreeing that K-Cups are a cool invention, but I do wonder if Green Mountain's valuation has become a bit too overheated. Check out this great write-up for more information:

    http://caps.fool.com/Blogs/ViewPost.aspx?bpid=271257&t=0...

    Great comments though everybody, keep them coming!

    -Eric Bleeker (TMFRhino)

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2009, at 2:35 AM, Gurupitka wrote:

    ABI Research forecasts that revenues for cellular M2M communication services will rise from approximately $2 billion in 2006 to more than $8 billion in 2012. The real win will come with M2M devices that work without batteries but by the harvesting of energy from the environment and the use of radical power management techniques that enable these devices to run on small amounts of energy.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2009, at 11:13 AM, DebtFreeDave0 wrote:

    I think the next major emerging trend will be the merging of TV and internet. We have started to see this with TV shows being hosted on internet sites, but this is just the beginning.

    I imagine a day when the average person's computer monitor is their flat screen tv on the wall, controlled with a remote control. People will sit back and browse the internet on their couch, picking what TV show or movie to watch next.

    Look for a company to create a economical, user-friendly way to merge the internet and TV. Some have tried and failed so far, but I think once a good solution comes out it will be a huge hit.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2009, at 11:33 AM, SweetMircha wrote:

    Tim Horton's Coffee & Donuts in the Big Apple. They're slowly taking over Dunkin's mismanagement & lack of cleaninless and replacing it with Canada's Favorite Brand. Canadian and proud of it.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2009, at 11:51 AM, biolasteve wrote:

    This may feel a little like old news, but my sense, both from personal experience and from what I see in the media, is that streaming entertainment on the internet. Between FIOS on "standard" tv, and hulu, et al. on the internet, I sense that "internet tv" has started to reach a tipping point. Even my 60 year old parents are asking me about "losing their cable payment" and "can't we just hook up one of those little computers and watch everything whenever we want?" We run our tv on a Mac Mini, and besides the $400 or so upfront investment, haven't paid a dime, other than to netflix (which we rarely get through the mail anymore, only online) to watch tv/movies.

    Ok just read DaveOHern above, shout out to you, beat me to the punch! Kudos. Amending your point, I think this is more mainstream than we realize, not out in the future so much, I have a number of personal colleagues who have lost advertisting jobs in TV, and their bosses cited the move to internet streaming as the primary culprit.

    With flattening, widening screens, faster connections, and better profit models to be discovered, Internet as TV is hottest trend right now.

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2009, at 12:15 PM, caltex1nomad wrote:

    Nikes new Tiger Woods Driver ad campaign......GOT WOOD ?

  • Report this Comment On December 16, 2009, at 10:50 PM, jerryguru69 wrote:

    Hottest trend: Texting.

    Honestly, do kids do anything else? On the bus ride home from work, the bus is sometimes filled with middle school and high school kids, and everyone one them are furiously texting each other. Their lives revolve around texting.

    Hottest product: FOOLX

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