I write this article in the wake of Apple and Samsung reporting poor(er) sales figures for their flagship smartphones in 2018, and most industry analysts now declaring that the smartphone market is officially saturated in most key markets for companies globally. Translated into simpler terms, that essentially means that it’s finally time for the tech industry to look beyond their faithful cash cow for the last decade, and move towards new, emerging technologies that may well be key to their future.
And that’s why I’m excited for the technology that we’ll see in 2019. It’ll hopefully be the year that new technologies begin to be embraced, and we enter a transition period that will see the emergence of new technologies such as 5G, as well as get a glimpse at more niche tech that will begin to impact us in the 2020s.
We’ll hopefully see AI begin to be more trustworthy (and if it already is enough, in your opinion, then we’ll hopefully begin to see regular people actually trust it), and exciting new magic from the hands of wizards at firms working on Machine Learning and Neural Networks. And the success of smart displays, akin to the excellent Google Home Hub, is another thing I’m looking forward to this year as companies such as Google and Amazon seem to come closer at finding the best way to ideally place their assistants in our lives.
Which brings me to my next point - data collection. As I just mentioned with reference to smart home devices powered by information-harvesting programs, I want to see how companies react to the backlash against those including the likes of Facebook and Google, for misusing their customer’s data and being data monsters in the first place, particularly because at the core of some of their business models is precisely that. How will they evolve with their users’ new want for more privacy? Will we see more companies going down a route similar to that of Apple, who make up for money they could have made through gathering their users’ data by charging a heftier fee for their products?
Oh yes, and how could I leave out Apple from this list? After the severe underperformance of their iPhones last year, how will they adapt? Tim Cook has already stated that he believes the future of Apple to be in services and healthcare (and not primarily in their hardware and software). 2019 isn’t going to be the end of Apple, not by a long shot, but they do have to make some changes to their game-plan if they are to continue thriving. 2019 will thus be an important year for them, with their landmark iOS 13 software update and their all-but-confirmed TV streaming service.
Which brings me to my last point, something that will indeed probably cause frustration to many of us going forward - the adoption of Netflix’s business model for all kinds of services, from ride-hailing to comic-book reading to entertainment. The television industry is set to become highly fragmented as various studios launch their own streaming services as the exclusive home for their original content, from Disney’s confirmed one to AT&T’s rumoured service. I have one word - Why?
And that why is something that the technology industry should remember going forward, this year and beyond - now more than ever. Too often products are made just because they can be made, and features crammed in just because they can be crammed in. Computers were invited to change the world and make everyone’s lives better, and that, over any amount of RAM or flexibility in devices, is what should be reinforced as the mantra of creators of tech going forward.