11 Big Tech Trends You’ll See in 2013.
15 hours ago
Writing prediction pieces is a funny thing because there is really no such thing as “next year.” Time is a continuum, and the calendar is a human construct designed to help us keep organized. Things that will happen “next year” are already happening now, we may simply not take note of them until the sun rises and sets dozens and dozens of times.
So as I look to 2013, I realize that much of which I expect to see in the coming 12-to-14 months has been quietly (or not so quietly) developing for months, even years. From my point of view, it’s unlikely 2013 will contain any revolutionary or ground-breaking advancements in technology, social media or even the nexus of the two. Believe me, I want breakthroughs. But in order for them to be such, they have to be things I’ve never seen before, which means I have little chance of predicting them. Let’s be honest, I’m no Nostradamus.
On the other hand, I can tell you about the trends that will make a difference “next year.” If you’ve been paying attention you may already know what they are.
1. Second-Screen Revolution
Photo by Nina Frazier
Here are some stats for you:
More than 80% of smartphone and tablet owners use these devices while watching TV.
At least 25% of U.S. smartphone and tablet users use the devices while watching TV multiple times per day.
51% of those who post on social media while watching TV do so to connect with others who might also be watching the same thing.
24% of Facebook users report posting about the movie they’re watching (in the theater!).
In other words, the Second Screen has arrived, but the revolution awaits us. In 2013, brands, media companies and marketers are going to get far more aggressive and inventive when it comes to second-screen engagement. During a recent panel I moderated for Viacom’s integrated marketing group, Mondelez’s (a Kraft spinoff) VP of Global Media Bonin Bough reported engagement is far stronger for second-screen integrated marketing programs than for traditional online brand advertising (read “banners”).
Marketers see blood in the water, and in 2013 they will release the sharks.
This is not a bad thing, but the old days of getting the full entertainment experience on screen 1 (TV, movies) is quickly coming to an end. Companies will expect you to watch their shows and see their product pitches with smartphone in hand and tablet (still usually the iPad) on your lap.
Meanwhile, a legion of second-screen engagement enablers like Shazam,Zeebox (both of which were on my panel), Viggle and GetGlue are lining up to help you connect big-screen consumption with small-screen activities.
Their goal will be not only to enrich your viewing experience, but to also extend the consumer connection as you turn off the TV and walk out the door with your smartphone in your pocket. Twenty-four-seven entertainment and branding will be the norm in 2013, though you won’t always be aware the connection between what you saw on your first and second screen at home and what your smartphone is telling you as you pass the local Wal-Mart.
2. Big Data
Image via iStockphoto, Nikada
Part of the solution of that puzzle will be data—whole bunches of it.
Thanks to the Internet and our ubiquitous, always-with-us and always-on smartphones, companies are capturing mountains of data about us. And 2013 is the year they finally figure out what to do with it.
One reason companies and marketers will more readily embrace big data is because they’re finally starting to trust it. The 2012 Presidential Election was a validation of data over guesswork. This may lead people to think that is that somewhat vertical (politics) set of data can be so telling, what can all the socio-demographic-geographic-activity data they’re grabbing now tell them.
In 2013, we’ll see the fruits of that data: targeted information on all channels, new discoveries that impact all walks of life based on deep data dives. We’ll have better products, sharper and more insightful predictions (on future elections, weather; basic needs like food, water, shelter and energy). We’ll also see the rise of the Data Scientist.
At this year’s Technomy in Tucson, Ariz., Annika Jiminez, senior director of Data Science at Greenplum, described the role and requirements for new Data Scientists. She explained that they have to be more than smart statisticians.
“They must have very strong programming skills and foundational statistical chops and communication skills.” That last skill will be critical because for all the support there is for the rise of Big Data, many companies still don’t get it. The Data Scientist has to be the cheerleader.
The best of these scientists will “optimize, predict, score and forecast” and, in the process, change our world.
3. End of Anonymous Trolls
Image via iStockphoto, essem.W
There is a growing tension between what the ever-watchful eye of the Internet and its big data vacuum know about us and people’s desire to remain anonymous. I have no issue with people who seek to protect their privacy on social media (though this is a fool’s game—nothing is ever truly private on social media). But I have no love for people who use the cloak of anonymity as a shield from behind which they can toss Molotov cocktails of venom and malice into people’s lives and the public discourse.
In 2012, Reddit’s most popular and prolific troll was shoved out into the spotlight and forced to own up to the horrible things he had been curating/promoting on the so-called homepage of the web. He cried free speech—as did his supporters—but I think the message was clear: Trolls can’t hide forever. In 2013, I expect that role to slowly fade away.
There will still be people using nom de plumes, but the trend is definitely shifting toward personal branding. And it’s hard to brand, “HappyBoy46.” Digital natives who have grown up with the Internet actively seek to build personal brands and are learning some hard lessons about the persistence of embarrassing online acts in the process.
In 2013, we will see a flood of young people entering the online stage with a fresh perspective on branding on online discourse. It will not be cool to make up a fake names, use other people’s photos as your avatar, lie about who you are and anonymously attack others online. We might also call this time the Dawn of the Age of the End of Bullies. There have been too many sad stories about young people being driven to or near suicide by the callous and almost always semi-anonymous online actions of others.
In short, 2013 will be time to clean house. Watch it happen with me.
4. End of Privacy
Image via iStockphoto, stocknshares
Concurrent with the end of anonymity will, obviously, be the end of privacy. As I noted above, people can try to keep only activities private and hide much of who they are, where they live, what they do and so on from the world, but every action they take will belie it. Constant data collection, ever-growing number of services that ask you to share something about yourself and a generation of users who don’t care about privacy will change how many of us think, feel and act about our own personal, digital space.
If you don’t believe me, just ask David Patraeus. He thought Google Gmail’s Draft folder would protect his privacy. Not so much.
In 2013, consumers will spend more time cleaning house, assuming that whatever they have posted on social media, what they consume and where they go will be public info — unless they actively seek to keep it out of the digital domain. Perhaps 2013 will see the rise of digital-jamming tools — software and hardware that acts a bit like “incognito mode” in Google Chrome. Not only can your own hardware not see where you are or what you’re doing, but third-party sensors are rendered unable to see you as well.
5. Rise of Reporting
Image via iStockphoto, shaunl
Too many reporters and sites got burned in 2012 by re-reporting or over-trusting so-called “known sources” (Google: We Did Not Acquire ICOA, NASA Confirms: No Major Discovery in Curiosity’s Mars Soil Sample). More media companies will rely on their own original reporting and those on social media may hesitate for one extra second before hitting Like, share and retweet.
Expect 2013 to be filled with a lot more long reads, real investigative reporting and fewer digital mea culpas.
6. Official Death of Desktops
Image via Flickr, Hannaford
The Window 8 launch event in New York City sticks in my mind for two reasons: 1) The amazing mirror-like setup of 200-or-so Surface tablets; and 2) The utter lack of traditional desktop computers running Windows 8. To demonstrate the new OS, Microsoft pulled together and impressive array of system. But while there were tons of laptops and tablets and even a handful of All-in-One PCs (a screen that’s also a computer), I did not see a single traditional box.
Sales of desktop computers have been steadily falling since 2006 (when the Consumer Electronics Association reported them at a high of 8.9 billion unitsin the U.S), and laptops officially surpassed desktops in 2008.
Now, however, PC sales are in an all-out tailspin. One report suggests that they won’t turn around for years (if ever). All-in-ones, like the kind I saw at the Windows 8 event, may grow a bit. But I’d say the writing is on the wall: In 2013, we will bury the box PC (at least in the U.S. consumer market) for good. Considering most of us no longer burn CDs, install software from discs, I doubt many people will miss them.
7. 3D Printing
Photo by Nina Frazier
It moved into the home and retail stories this year and will explode in 2013 as the initial $2,000 price of owning a home 3D printer tumbles.
It’s true, consumers may not yet fully understand 3D printing, but the companies they know and love surely get it. In 2012, Staples announced plans to add 3D-printing services to a handful of European outlets and will expand to other countries in short order. When consumers see a 3D printer next to tall stacks of bright-white printing paper, they may start to wonder what all the 3D hype is about.
Concurrently, there will be more and more stories of 3D printing in our everyday lives and industries: at doctors’ offices, in hospitals, even at the local auto mechanic.
In 2013, I expect to see a lot more 3D-printer hardware and services competition and possibly even the first 3D-toy printer (are you listening Hasbro?).
8. Flexible Devices
Image via iStockphoto, klgoh
When it comes to TV, computer, tablets and phone screens, I’m pretty sure we can’t get any thinner. On the other hand, 2013 could be the year of the flexible display—and possibly flexible computer. By year’s end, we should at least see a bendable phone (hard-ish rubber body, flexible display, plastic screen cover). The only question is which company — Apple, Google, Samsung, HTC — will deliver it first.
There’s also an off chance that we’ll see the first flexible HDTV (hang it on the wall, or roll it up and move it to another room).
9. Embedded Technology
Image via iStockphoto, Grzegorz Slemp
NFC may not have made it to the iPhone 5, and some consumers remainconfounded by it, but traditional objects with some smarts built in will happen (in fact, it already is). I predict a whole class of household products that offer instructions when you tap your NFC-enabled tablet or phone (but not your iPhone!) on them and their own embedded NFC chips.
Embedded technology will also show up where you least expect it: utility poles, door handles, sidewalks, you name it. Any place they can jam a sensor to capture — you guessed it — data, or let you quickly gain information about location, situational awareness, there will be embedded technology.
Also, 2013 might also be the year we see a lot more people get technology embedded in them. I’m on the fence, though, about just how big a trend this will be.
10. Crowdfunding Mania
Three years after Kickstarter launched, 2012 became the proving grounds for a host of new crowdfunding platforms, including Indiegogo (which actually launched in 2008), iCrowd and SmallKnot. Companies, small businesses andindividuals are all finding success and funding, which will lead to an explosion of crowdfunding startups in 2013.
By the end of the year, the market will be saturated and returns will have diminished. I don’t think 2013 marks the end of the crowdfunding craze. But, as more people realize that you do not always get a comparable turn on investment (these are often risky, high-concept projects, after all), we will see compression by 2014.
11. Robots Rise
Image via Flickr, randychiu
The consumer robotics space has been pretty quiet for the last five years, but I think that’s all about to change.
Robot wizard Rodney Brooks, whose Rethink Robotics recently unveiled the remarkable Baxter, now thinks we’ll see more powerful in-home robots in just a few years. I expect there could be a surprise or two in the home-robot-companion space, either from a company we know, like Wow Wee or iRobot, (which is doing some awesome research), Honda, Toyota. Or perhaps it will be an Asia Pacific firm we’ve never heard of.
Those are the big trends, but there are sure to be many other ones that are smaller, but just as interesting. How do you think 2013 will shape up? Share your ideas in the comments below.
Homepage Photo by Nina Frazier