Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Key Predictions for Trends in 2016, Part III

Here's our third set of trends that we expect to have an impact in 2016:
  1. The market for wearable tech and for IoT will continue to grow. Expect IoT-enabled tech to be a big story at CES.
  2. 3D printers will be popular in schools.  Getting students comfortable with 3D printers is a great for seeding the market, but don’t expect them in every home just yet.
  3. The importance of a college education will continue to generate media interest. The media will continue to look at whether a college education is worth the student debt loads as well as what kind of education we should provide our students. In an age of instant access to facts, memorizing certain facts may not be as helpful as actually understanding the underlying issues around history, science, literature, etc. and may not be indicators of future career success.
  4. Crowdfunding will lose buzz. With even Hollywood A-listers turning to crowdsourcing their projects, we expect the novelty of crowdfunding to fade, which will make it harder to raise money this way.
  5. eBook sales will plateau. After years of growing sales, eBooks’ momentum stalled in 2015. eBooks aren’t going away but they won’t totally replace traditional books, as some had feared or predicted. Increasingly, buyers may demand the ability to make a cross-platform book/eBook purchase, much as already happens with music purchased from Amazon, where you can the actual CD and direct download to your phone. 
  6. Drones may start falling back to earth. Like Icarus, drones may be flying too close to the sun – and airplanes -- but there problems go beyond that. While Amazon has unveiled a possible drone to help it make deliveries, consumer drones may be the cool gift that sits in a corner until they answer this question: What do you do with a drone after you’ve taken aerial photos of your house? 
  7. Will FinTech shake up traditional banking? Apps that support banking and financial services, like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and others, will generate a fair amount of business press coverage under headlines questioning whether FinTech will disintermediate traditional banks. FinTech will make inroads but won’t go broadly mainstream in 2016. That includes Bitcoin, about which there was much buzz in 2014 and almost nothing in 2015 except when some reporters thought they had uncovered the real identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the apparent mysterious inventor of Bitcoin.
  8. China may live in interesting times.  There’s a lot going on that will get coverage here. Expect coverage about the environment, including Beijing’s epic pollution and a lot of coverage about its economy, including the impact of the Renminbi being named by the International Monetary Fund as a main world currency, rising wages and an aging workforce, all leading to a possibly slowing economy. And continuing from prior years, there will be a lot of coverage about intellectual property infringement and Beijing-sanction hacks against U.S. companies.
  9. The concern about cybersecurity, privacy, encryption and government surveillance is already changing. Due to the tragic events in Paris and San Bernardino, many will take a 180-degree turn on government surveillance, and demand the government to do more, not less. Expect more coverage about cybersecurity and privacy – especially as the EU enforces stricter data privacy rules (which will have an impact on cloud provides likes Amazon Web Services). Interestingly, despite the Vtech hack, which may have made children’s information available, we don’t expect much coverage about smart toys and privacy.
  10. A big issue with driverless cars won’t be the technology or safety record. It will be the insurance requirements and state laws. California recently said that driverless cars will need a steering wheel and a person who is certified to drive – even as Google has designed a driverless car without a steering wheel. (The reason: it will be the transition from driverless to driver when accidents could occur.) But auto insurance will see that premiums will go down as accidents decrease – and that will change one dynamic of driverless cars (perhaps not theft, however). 
Let us know if you agree or disagree.

Please note: We're going to take a break for Christmas and New Year's -- which isn't to say we won't be working, just not blogging.

Happy Holidays, and see you in 2016!

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