It’s that time of the year again – prediction time. Making predictions for the far off future is one thing, making them for next year is something completely different. Harder. More difficult. Higher risk of making a fool of yourself. More of a challenge.
Here at IFS Labs we’re not ones to shy away from a challenge. So here goes; our predictions for 2014.
3D Printing For The Win
3D printing has been buzzing for a while now. We predict in 2014 it will completely explode. We’ll give you “the Christmas gift of the year, 2014” already now.
Yes, you guessed it. The 3D printer for your home appliances. Your spatula, your cheese slicer, what have you. Everything that can be, or is already, made out of plastic is something you’ll simply print out, as needed.
For businesses, this is of course going to mean that more and more stuff like tools, spare parts etc., can be printed out. In time, it’s going to be a game changer for sure but this is a post on predictions for next year so the major shift will be in our homes for 2014, where we’ll have our very own home appliance maker. I think I’ll have mine in the same stack as our microwave.
The Internet of Things Will Not Be A “Wow”
An oddity among those who makes predictions is that you rarely come across someone who focuses on things that may seem like forgone conclusions and say “sorry folks, it ain’t gonna happen”. Maybe it’s less interesting, maybe it’s too risky. Well, we’re taking a stab at one such area here.
The Internet of Things.
Everyone is talking about the Internet of Things (abbreviated IoT). Our prediction is that we won’t see anything revolutionary in this area in 2014. We’re already seeing stuff like the keychain that whistles if you forget it when you are walking out the door, the door that opens automatically for emergency personnel when an elderly person has taken a fall in his/her home. But come on. This is about as ground breaking as the return of the Tamagotchi.
We are not impressed, nor do we think you should you be. We predict it will be 5+ years until we see something that will cause some real waves; clothes that change their fabric depending on the weather, food that tells me what they go well with of what I currently have in the fridge and so on. So, sorry folks, 2014 is not the year IoT will break through.
Probability: ULTRA High – As certain as certain gets
Back to Basics – Hardware as the Driver
Over the last couple of years one thing has been evident; if you own the hardware, you can give away the software for free. Apple has certainly set the mold for the rest of the industry in this space and our predictions are that others will follow suite.
Microsoft is already owning Nokia and their phones. It’s not difficult to see them becoming even more focused on one set of hardware for other things as well, such as PCs and Tablets and the next big thing, whatever that is.
Google has already started realizing that providing an OS that shall fit 4-500 different hardware configurations is not a picnic. Their Motorola purchase tells the tale. We predict more pre-compiled versions of their OS to their specific hardware making for better user experience.
So what does this mean for consumers and businesses out there? Probably fewer choices but better working configurations than what we’re seeing today. Possibly a bit more expensive as well. But the software for these gadgets will be free. I think we’ve seen the last version of Windows that we need to pay for (retail).
The Cloud Suffers From Box-In Sickness
The heading of this paragraph may sound as exciting as having root canal done but it’s actually quite jaw dropping (pun intended) if you have the stamina to stay with it. Although I will gladly admit that this prediction is the fuzziest of the five.
Today, we have 3-4 major players in the cloud that constructs the nuts and bolts of it (cloud as a platform); Microsoft, Google, Amazon and arguably VMWare. We’re also seeing smaller players like RackSpace, LiquidWeb et al (these are easily 30-40 players if not more) trying to get further up the food chain of the cloud as a platform by doing what the big guys are doing; tying you in to their platform by using proprietary solutions or technology.
For software vendors, this is a major turn off as it’s not like making a bad choice buying the wrong phone or a tablet or pad that you didn’t like. If you decide to spend your money on building your product in a cloud architecture that – as it turns out – is not top of the pops in tomorrows world, it’s potentially breaking your business (as a software vendor, that is).
So what do you do? You wait. You try to build stuff your way, staying as technology agnostic as possible resulting in longer time to market and higher cost of deployment.
Our prediction is that this will actually escalate in 2014. None of the big players want to “give up” or “unite” around one architecture. So what will happen? Eventually, maybe as soon as 2014, we’ll see that a player that is not big in this space right now will become a de facto standard, due to one or more application vendors’ success on its platform. This can cause chaos in this space and will certainly be fun to watch but at the expense of sub optimal cloud based solutions, more expensive, less open than what could be the case already today.
Me-Centric World Takes a Leap Forward
It’s funny isn’t it. Some things that you think “this will be huge” never materialize. Other things that seem too complex, too invasive, and just too much become successful almost overnight.
One of those things is the me-centric trends that really started with the pedometer some 7-8 years ago, you know the step-counter, that quickly moved on to our smart phones, counting steps, calories, weight etc. Now we’re seeing wearable devices like the bracelets that collect data on our pulse, our body fat ratio, our breathing, combined with keeping track of where we are through GPS. All of these gadgets apparently leap off the shelves if you are to believe sales statistics.
We see this continuing to grow even faster in 2014 with two major implications: first of all we’ll be seeing an explosion of so called wearable devices like bracelets, foot bracelets, earrings, necklaces that all in one way or another is the connection between us humans and “the cloud”. Secondly, we will all become much more impatient with applications that don’t take into consideration who asks the question, who runs the program i.e. we want to be recognized by our gadget / computer / website. Quite contrary to what we would have thought just a couple of years ago. Context aware is here to stay it seems. Oh, by the way, did we mention we’ve been running projects on this very topic in IFS Labs? ;)
But hang on, isn’t this a great example of the march forward of Internet of Things? No! IoT will be real when regular retail stuff like the wrapping plastic around the ham we just bought, or the milk carton, or your iron + ironing board all have an IP stack and is connected to the Internet. This is not it.
Prediction Six – yes a freebie
This is such a no brainer we couldn’t keep it from you. 2014 is the year when some 14 year old computer wizard breaks the bitcoin algorithm, floods the market with bitcoins thereby rendering it null and void. Watch out.
There you have it. The IFS Labs predictions for 2014. Remember to share it if you like it!