2016: just where is it all going?

It is obvious that Uber’s CEO had never watched The Princess Bride, a cultural touch stone for both generation x and generation y, otherwise they would have known the maxim:

Never get involved in a land war in Asia

There is a lot of reason why this is true, the phrase captures the essence of a remark Douglas McArthur had said. If you play the board game Risk, Asia poses a problem due to the amount of territories involved.

I expect Uber will continue to funnel money into China and still get sand in its face. Quite what this means for Lyft I am not so sure.

Twitter gets a change of management, but that doesn’t do any good. The reasons for this are already apparent:

Twitter has stopped growing at all in the US in 2015. This is a big deal because the US is the bellwether market for advertising innovation and advertisers like growing audience numbers.

It has growing content volumes on broadly static growth, which has infrastructure costs. It also has costs from trying to innovate itself out of trouble with advertisers.

Although there aren’t hard numbers to support it, there is a body of evidence to suggest that the number of times a day a consumer accesses the platform has declined and the number of impressions per post would flatten or decline.

All of this would be bad news for potential advertisers and their intermediaries in the advertising and PR world.

Fintech bubble that will take good ideas and bad ones down together. Banks are currently considered to be ripe for disruption. One of the key problems with this is that technologists think it will be easy to sweep aside regulations that banks operate under.

The reality is rather different, these aren’t taxi services or hotels but people with real political and financial clout. These are the same organisations who managed to persuade governments to bankrupt themselves in order to bail them out in 2008.

In the late 1990s and early 2000 there was a similar bubble around Linux and open source software. A number of companies at the front of it including VA Linux didn’t last the bubble, but the effect was to make Linux ubiquitous from consumer electronics to banking systems. I suspect a similar impact for technologies such as Blockchain. It may prove to be a handier way than historic transactional databases for say credit card companies; but that doesn’t mean that corporate enterprises will buy the technology or services from start-ups. Instead, the bits that prove themselves through the Linux Foundation are likely to be co-opted by the likes of HP, Oracle or Huawei in the future.

Ultimately these providers aren’t selling a shiny technology but trust. Think of it in terms of two axis of risk:

  • CTOs will take a chance on a technology where a major vendor is involved if it makes sense (IBM and the internet for instance)
  • They will take a chance on a new vendor to do something that is well understood (think the Indian outsourcers like Infosys and Wipro)
  • But they would be hard pressed to take a risk on both vendor and technology at the same time, think systems integrator marchFIRST which championed then new web technologies to enterprises around about the time of the dot com bust

We will have reached peak ad-blocking. Ad blocking still requires a modicum of savvy from a consumer audience, just as an in the same way encryption isn’t completely mainstream – the same will be true with ad-blocking. However there will be an increased interest in native advertising.  There won’t be the complete meltdown of retargeting or programmatic for instance that ad blocking would tend to imply.

The internet in the EU will become increasingly regulated. At the moment the European Union is succumbing to The Fear. In the past, whether it was the Red Brigade, The Baader Meinhof gang or Northern Ireland there was a lot of emphasis put on keeping normality. The only real notable change in the UK was sealing up bins on the London Underground and other public transport services. Because there was a collective memory going back to the second world war, there was a recognition that keeping society normal was a key element in dealing with terrorism – whether the rise of the right or the left.

After the cold war the parameters of risk versus impact on societies reaction acted to it changed. This was the coming of The Fear – the roots of it can be found in the US reaction to 9/11. America had not experienced terrorism or foreign attack on its soil since the war of Independence. The fear felt by Americans was palpable and infectious. Each risk faced by a society was coupled to an asymmetric response. This was something that terrorist theorists planned. The risks become more abstract including paedophiles or the catch-all of ‘organised crime’ to give governments greater insight into consumers lives. It has only taken 20 years for Germany to forget the lessons of life under the Stasi.

This won’t change any time soon as governments have a lack of incentive to give up on powers they have already legislate for themselves. If one looks at the UK mainstream political spectrum, both Labour and Conservative regimes have been remarkably similar in terms of legislating consumer privacy out of existence.

We will have reached peak smartphone and tablet. China has now reached replacement rate for devices, there is a corresponding lack of paradigm shifts in the pipelines for smartphone design and software. Tablets have shown themselves to be nice devices for data consumption but not requiring regular upgrades like the smartphone or replacement for the PC.

VR in 2016 will be all about finding the right content. VR won’t work in gaming unless it provides e-gaming athletes with some sort of competitive advantage, if it does then gaming will blow things up massively. Gaming will not be the only content vehicle for VR, it needs an Avatar-like moment to drive adoption into the early mainstream. From a technology point-of-view the smartphone drive towards OLED displays should benefit virtual reality goggles.

GoPro is going to get eaten alive. Manufacturers like drone-maker DJI have been integrating GoPro-esque cameras into their products and UPQ (think a cross between gadget company and a fast fashion outfit like Forever 21) are providing much cheaper (but not cheap and nasty) alternatives.

More information
What stands between Uber and success in China? | CNBC
Uber CEO accuses Chinese messaging app WeChat of censorship | The Telegraph
Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It) – Umair Haque
MarchFirst enters the terrible twos | CNet
Why ISIS has the potential to be a world-altering revolution — Aeon
LG Secures Super Bowl Slot And Ridley Scott For OLED TV ad | Forbes

Older predictions
2015: just where is it all going? | renaissance chambara
2014: crystal ball gazing, how did I do?
2014: just where is it all going? | renaissance chambara 
Crystal ball-gazing: 2013 how did I do?
2013: just where is it all going?
Crystal ball-gazing: 2012 how did I do?
2012: just where is digital going?
Crystal ball-gazing: 2011 how did I do?
2010: How did I do?
2010: just where is digital going?