2015 will be the year when nothing happened, says renowned blogger Bob Cringely. I agree in that I don’t think there will be any new hardware platforms. This could be a year of new content and types of content, though. Innovative new apps and use-cases will probably crop up for smartwatches, television set-top boxes, and virtual reality. People also tend to re-consider previous ideas when nothing happens. Better cryptocurrency seems inevitable. People could come to their senses about the sharing economy nonsense. There could also be a mass exodus from Silicon Valley. Here’s my predictions for 2015.
Every digital watch will eventually be a smartwatch. 2015 will be a year when developers compete to make the killer apps for smartwatches. I bought a Pebble smartwatch over a year ago and I’m still satisfied with it. Smartwatch manufacturers like Pebble and Apple will compete to attract app developers. I think Apple’s price for its entry-level Apple Watch causes many consumers to take a wait-and-see attitude. Meanwhile, Pebble’s low-cost approach gains marketshare and developers keep making Pebble apps.
Television Set-top Boxes
Silicon Valley and Hollywood continue to cross-pollinate in 2015. Big companies like Amazon and Google keep investing more money in quality content only available on their own platform. I’ve had an Apple TV for years and replaced it six months ago with an Amazon Fire TV. The Fire TV has more apps and better content. Transparent recently won honors as the best show of 2014, with Amazon’s Fire TV being the only set-top box that supports viewing it on television. Woody Allen is directing a new show exclusively for Amazon. Google is also working on similar projects with its YouTube Original Programming. Now is a good time to produce shows and movies with online-first distribution.
This year could be an arms race of startup acquisitions to establish a standard for virtual reality. Facebook has social and the Oculus Rift headset. However, Amazon purchased Twitch.tv last August for a billion dollars. Combine that with Amazon’s Web Services, Fire TV device, and one-of-a-kind GPU graphics cloud and the result is a complete real-time gaming platform. For a hardware company, making a virtual reality headset that works with Fire TV might prove profitable.
The best thing about a startup like Coinbase is its name: Coinbase, not Bitcoinbase. Cryptocurrency is more than just bitcoin, as I’ve already said. More merchants are supporting Bitcoin. The market for Bitcoin is very volatile, though, and nobody wants to hold Bitcoins any longer than necessary. Even as I write this, Bitcoin is plunging below $200. My prediction is Bitcoin exchanges and payment processors work together on a completely new cryptocurrency, which quickly gains popularity as they encourage existing customers to support it.
Sharing economy has always sounded to me suspiciously like new economy, which was the nonsense that resulted in the dot-com bubble. “New economy” meant companies didn’t need to rely on well-established financial principles to succeed. Sharing economy startups similarly ignore too many interests, including taxes, insurance, government regulations, and even property rights. New economy companies consistently spent more than they made, eventually ran out of cash, and went bankrupt. I feel like the so-called “sharing economy” companies are all destined to have the same fate. But I also believe the investors in those companies thought they were sophisticated enough to hype them through public offerings and sell their shares at a profit before the bubble burst. That plan didn’t work during the dot-com era and doesn’t seem to be working this time around.
Mass Exodus from Silicon Valley
In 2015, I predict the Bay Area will see a lack of creative talent as the affordability crisis in the Bay Area continues to frustrate people. The cool people that don’t work in the high-tech industry will leave the Bay Area because they simply can’t afford to stay. And with no cool people around that don’t work in the high-tech industry, many people that do work in the high-tech industry will get bored and also move elsewhere. The side-effect of all this will be more innovation in other cities with major high-tech companies, like Seattle and Austin.
Back To The Future
I’ll re-visit this post in a year. We’ll see how accurate I was. Along the way, I’m sure there will be innovations and events that nobody could predict. Always remember: “Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”
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