What can we expect from tech in 2016? Innovation is at an all time high, aided by the proliferation of smart phones, Moore’s law, social networks and big data. Yet there continues to be noise in the financial markets and media calling into question the legitimacy of newly created technologies. Overall, I couldn’t be more bullish on the technological outlook — Regardless of all of the “bubble talk”, the arc of technological progress will continue, ambitious entrepreneurs will form and build transformative companies and the standard of living throughout the world will improve drastically.
Below are my predictions. Feel free to let me know if you think I am a downright idiot, have some good picks or think I am some sort of clairvoyant. Look forward to determining which of those I actually am throughout 2016.
1. Apple will break into the video streaming market, poaching Netflix’s market share
Apple will rebound from its streaming music flop and develop its own video streaming platform. Apple has one of the largest and most lucrative installed bases in the world with millions of individuals who own iPhones, Macbooks , iPads and iPods. I believe that 2016 will be the year Apple is successful at monetization this user base with the addition of a successful subscription model. To do so, Apple will build off of their already established iTunes platform and create a video streaming service that poaches Netflix’s massive market share.
2. Virtual Reality will dominate headlines early in 2016, but will fizzle out while more influential functionalities are developed
At first, new VR devices, like the Rift, will launch to great fan fare. But, similar to the first iPhone, only a select few tech enthusiasts will pony up the huge asking price (~$500) and get on board.
The applications from VR are real and immense. I’m not talking just being able to play Call of Duty and view 360 degrees, although that would be awesome, or play arcade games like pictured below (actually taken around 20 years ago). I’m referring to the opportunity to teleport students in underprivileged areas to the top classrooms in the world, create a fully immersive live broadcasting experience for events, practice surgeries before doctors attempt to conduct them on patients, and so many more. Unfortunately, I think the adoption cycle of VR will be slower than we’d all benefit from, and these larger applications won’t take hold until 2017 and beyond.
3. Killer blockchain apps and use cases will be developed that continue to propel its breakout
Blockchain is already showing insane potential. Overstock CEO, turned bitcoin / blockchain evangelist, Patrick Byrne recently issued stock using its technology and said, Blockchain “can do for the capital markets what the Internet has done for consumers.” That’s a pretty powerful statement right there and I couldn’t believe it to be more true.
However, I (and many others) think that the blockchain can do much more that create more efficient capital markets. More and more use cases and apps will be developed in 2016, and its technology will start to penetrate markets that aren’t obvious as of yet (e-commerce, real estate, etc.)
4. Twitter will have a strong rebound in 2016
Twitter is one of the most incredible platforms in the world — I don’t think that needs to be defended on Medium of all places — and I couldn’t be more excited to have Dorsey back in the CEO role.
Twitter’s transition to a public company has been rough. Their user growth has stalled and it has a high number of inactive users. Investors have been steadfastly focusing on MAU, but missing a greater point all together — Twitter’s community is more developed and interactive than any other platform in the world, thus creating the most effective audience for brands to advertise to and an increasingly powerful platform for new users to sign up for.
However, Twitter still has a ton of room for improvement. It is imperative for Dorsey and the Twitter team to make Twitter easier to use and enjoy. All of the world’s greatest content is already inside Twitter, yet for so many people it is still to difficult and intimidating to digest. I think this is the case for a number of reasons: (1) It takes a lot of time and effort to follow and find a list of accounts around the topics you’re interested in and (2) the reverse chronological timeline makes it difficult to follow the best content and ensure it isn’t missed.
Twitter has already taken steps to steps to address both — Moments are helping individuals follow content and events they care about, rather than individual accounts (while exposing users to accounts they may have not otherwise found), and “While you were away” is a step in the right direction to remove the strict chronological timeline. I’d love to see a more Facebook esque Twitter timeline, prioritizing those with the most likes, retweets, interest and views (from those who you follow) to further promote the most “valuable” tweets, and believe Twitter will release this in 2016. Additionally, I think Twitter will create a curated and categorized service in 2016 that will allow uses to discover and follow Twitter’s “best” accounts in each topic. As Twitter becomes easier and more enjoyable to use, hundreds of millions of more users will embrace and use it daily.
5. Facebook will continue to quietly build out their search and end up replicating their news feed’s advertising successes in their own “search engine”
Over the past few years, Facebook has been indexing all posts (just 2 trillion of them…) and data into a searchable query. Now instead of searching Google for New York Mets news, the FB team is hoping you’ll search it on their site, pulling up a real time feed of posts from the reputable accounts they have, along with whatever your friends have already mentioned — almost Twitter like in a way.
Facebook has more of your personal data than any other service, or person for that matter, in the entire world (scary, when you put it that way) and in 2016 they will use this to continue building an extremely personalized search engine.
6. Mobile messaging will have an overhaul and dramatically increase in standalone value
We’re starting to see it already — Whatsapp selling for $16B, Facebook developing M, companies like Slash adding more features to the keyboard and AI enabled texting services launching. An app will emerge that integrates many time consuming mobile activities into one platform. Think texting, sending money, finding a restaurant nearby, getting an Uber and more, all through a messaging client. AI will largely be the enabler of this change and drive new services that are built entirely off of messaging. Less and less will need to be Googled and more time will be spent within messaging apps.
7. Uber will begin to compete with local services such as Seamless and Yelp
The sheer amount of data Uber contains on delivery routes and crowded destinations— Uber has begun to leverage this in the form of UberEats with their 10 minute delivery times and has even launched a standalone app in Canada. Uber will take this app to other markets in 2016 and continue to build their trove of data / local use cases.
In 2016, Uber will also emerge as a competitor to Yelp — They will create a platform and extremely well integrated UI that allows users to recommend places based on their drop-off and pickup locations, and will in turn apply credit to the ride as a reward. Additionally, with data from trip locations, Uber has access to all of the hottest trends, locations and events at any given time and can leverage this to provide a personalized recommendation system.
8. Snapchat will become a platform for content generation (along with all of their other awesome features users currently love), giving users the ability to pay a fee to save stories from “verified posters”
This will be a “major key” for Snapchat, as the great DJ Khaled would say. Snapchat will make it easier to find celebrity and verified users, and promote certain content creators based on each Snapchatters’ interests. For example, VC’s will have a “show” that takes viewers through a pitch meeting, music performers will take followers backstage and DJ Khaled will continue to have his daily keys to success. Snapchat will make all of these viewings easy to find, search, navigate, share and follow and verified users will have schedules that are posted to their profiles. Snapchat will also pay the content creator a portion of the fee to download, creating even more value for each producer and incentivizing more to join. Snapchat will end up creating an extremely valuable and engaging trove of content.
9. More innovation in health care will occur in next 5 years than past 50 combined
I couldn’t be more confident about healthcare innovation heading into 2016. A confluence of trends in big data, AI, storage, computing and deep learning, have set up a perfect environment for healthcare innovation to thrive. Moore’s law is occurring even faster in the healthcare space than elsewhere, and the cost of processes like genomic sequencing is going to zero. The human genome project that spanned 1991–2001 cost about $3bn to complete — today it would cost less than $500. It is time for software to officially eat healthcare.
Similar to how Amazon Web Services drastically decreased the costs of a startup hosting servers (and thus launching a product), new “cloud biology” companies will shrink the cost of conducting experiments. Scientists will be free to test exponentially more cures and solutions to morphing and stubborn diseases at a fraction of the price, resulting in more and more hypotheses and advancements.
Computation, algorithms and the proliferation of data will aid doctors in not only making healthcare much cheaper, but also better. Genomic sequencing will lead to massive breakthroughs in cancer, diabetes and other acute diseases. Software, big data and machine learning will help to analyze the range of treatment options and determine the most effective. And digital health solutions, apps and treatments will decrease the trend of over-medication for many diseases that could be treated through better care, information and stronger support networks, without the toxic side-effects.