The outlook for tech stocks in 2011

Will a new generation of mobile computing devices boost tech company profits?

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We're in the early stages of a revolution in mobile computing devices, a revolution that will produce marketplace winners and losers.

Investors, of course, don't have the luxury of waiting for the smoke to clear to determine who the victors are. They need to make their bets now. Seeking Alpha contributor Kerri Shannon offers some interesting thoughts about what to expect in 2011 from the technology sector.

For starters, he expects a lot of smartphone and tablet sales. Shannon quotes IDC predictions that 330 million smartphones and 42 million media tablets will be sold worldwide next year.

IDC also predicts that next year about half of all regular Internet users will utilize non-PC devices at least part of the time. And Gartner predicts non-PC devices will out-ship personal computers by the middle of 2012.

So who's well-positioned for the mobile computing revolution? Apple, obviously, with its iPhone and iPad tablet. And Google's Android mobile OS is already making the search giant a major smartphone player. An Android OS for tablets also is in the works.

But Shannon says another company bears watching -- Taiwan-based Acer:

To shift from the diminishing PC-only market, Acer last month released its own tablet computers. It aims to nab a 15% - 20% share of the global tablet market next year.

"For Acer, we want to become a significant player as soon as possible," Acer Chairman J.T. Wang said at the Reuters China Investment Summit. "Tablet is a huge market and it shows a new path for new growth."

Shannon also sees a lot of opportunity in a specific sub-sector:

[M]ore affordable mid-range smartphone options cost between $100 and $200 and are the fastest-growing smartphone segment, with sales expected to reach $28 billion in 2014 from $7 billion in 2010.

Other points: He expects more big things from cloud computing, a banner year for mobile apps developers and the continued emergence of content delivery networks, or CDNs.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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