Ten Tech Predictions for 2016 (Part One)
Another year has come and gone, and in the tech world, it seems not much has changed. 2015 was arguably a relatively modest year when it comes to major innovations, with many of the biggest developments essentially coming as final delivery or extensions to bigger trends that started or were first announced in 2014. Autonomous cars, smart homes, wearables, virtual reality, drones, Windows 10, large-screen smartphones and the sharing economy all made a bigger initial mark in 2014, and continued to evolve over this past year.
年が変わる。しかしテクノロジーの世界では、それほど大きな変化はみられない。 2015年は、相対的にささやかな年であった。 2014年に始まった、または最初に発表された、より大きなトレンドへの最終納品物、もしくは、その拡張として実質的に出てきた多くの巨大開発を伴って、主要なイノベーションへやってきた時だった。 自律運転車、スマートホーム、ウェアラブル、仮想現実、ドローン、Windows 10、大きな画面のスマートフォン、そしてシェアリングエコノミー。 全ては2014年に最初に大きくなり、この過ぎ去ろうとしている歳の間に、進化し続けたのだ。
- arguably - 間違いなく
- relatively - 相対的に
- modest - ささやかな
Looking ahead to 2016, I expect we will see changes that, on the surface, also don’t seem to amount to much initially, but will actually prove to be key foundational shifts that drive a very different and very exciting future. Here are the first five of my 10 predictions of key themes for the new year (the next five will appear here next week).
Prediction 1: The death of software platforms, the rise of the MetaOS
Proprietary software platforms like iOS, Windows and Android have served as the very backbone of the tech industry and the tech economy for quite some time, so it may seem a bit ludicrous to predict their demise. However, I believe that the walls supporting these ecosystems are starting to crumble.
- ludicrous - 馬鹿げた。バカバカしい。
- demise - 終焉
- crumble - 崩れる
Device operating systems were built to enable the creation of applications that worked on specific devices, and they did an incredible job of doing that — perhaps too good. We now have somewhere between 1.5 and two million apps available each for iOS and Android, and hundreds of thousands of Windows apps. The problem is, the vast majority of people download less than a hundred, and actually use more like five to 10 apps on a regular basis.
More importantly, most consumers now own and regularly use multiple devices with multiple operating systems, and what they really want isn’t a bunch of independent apps, but access to the critical services that they access through their devices. Yes, some of those services are delivered through apps, but many of the biggest software and service providers are altering their strategies to ensure that they can deliver a high-quality experience regardless of the app, device, OS or browser being used to access their application or service. Factor in the increasing range of smart home, smart car and other connected devices we’ll all own and regularly use in the near future — plus the general app fatigue that I think many consumers now feel — and the whole argument around an app-driven world starts to make a lot less sense.
We’re seeing companies build what I call a MetaOS — a platform-like layer of software and services that remains independent of any underlying device platform to deliver the critical capabilities that people are ultimately looking to access.
Instead we’re seeing companies build what I call a MetaOS — a platform-like layer of software and services that remains independent of any underlying device platform to deliver the critical capabilities that people are ultimately looking to access. Bigger companies like Facebook and Microsoft are integrating a wide range of services into these MetaOS platforms — particularly around communications and contextual intelligence agents — that will increasingly take on the tasks and roles that other individual applications used to. Want access to media content or documents or (eventually) commerce and financial services? Even better, want a smart assistant to help coordinate your efforts? Log in to one of these MetaOS megaservices, and your unique digital identity (another key element of a MetaOS) will give you secure access to these services and much more.
Look for Google, Apple and Amazon, among others, to start making a bigger effort in this area, and expect to see some of these larger companies make key acquisitions to fill in gaps in their MetaOS efforts over the course of the next year. This isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight, but I think 2016 will be the year we start to see more of these strategies take shape.
Prediction 2: Market maturation leads to increased specialization
The era of products that appeal to a broad cross-section of all consumers is coming to an end, and it’s being replaced by a new era where we will see more products that are more tightly focused on specific sets of customers. The key product categories have matured, and it’s hard to find broad new product categories that appeal to a wide range of consumers in the same way that PCs, tablets and smartphones have.
Something has to be next year’s hoverboard.
That’s not to say that we won’t be seeing any exciting or interesting new product categories — after all, something has to be next year’s hoverboard — but they won’t have the same kind of wide-ranging impact that the now more “traditional” smart devices have had. As a result, I think we’ll see a wide variety of subcategories for smart homes, connected cars, wearables, drones, VR headsets and consumer robotics that will perhaps sell in the tens or hundreds of thousands instead of the tens of millions that other product categories have enjoyed.
The Maker movement and crowdfunding efforts will go a long way toward helping drive these changes, but I also expect that we’ll see the China/Shenzen hardware ecosystem start to adjust and focus more efforts on being able to specialize and even personalize devices. The end result will be a wider range of devices that more specifically meet different consumers’ needs. At the same time, I believe it will also be harder to “find the pulse” of where major hardware developments are headed, because they will be moving in so many different directions. The key will be in developing manufacturing technologies that can enable greater abilities to specialize, and that can produce products profitably with lower production runs.
- maturation - 成熟
Prediction 3: Apple reality check leads to major investment
Apple has had an incredible run at the top of the technology heap for quite some time and, to be clear, I’m not saying that 2016 is the year that this will end. What I am saying, however, is that 2016 is the year that the company will face some of its biggest challenges, and the year that the “reality distortion field” surrounding Apple will start to fade. With two-thirds of its revenue dependent on a single product line (the iPhone) that’s running into the realities of a slowing global smartphone market, the company is going to have to make some big new bets in 2016 in order to retain its market-leading position.
アップルはかなり長い間テクノロジー領域のトップで驚異的に走り続けている。 そして、はっきりさせておきたいのだが、私は、2016年がその終わりになる年だとは言っていない。 しかし、私が言っているのは、2016年は、同社が自身の大きな課題に直面する年になると言っている。 そして、アップルを取り巻いている「現実の歪んだフィールド」が衰退し始める年だ。 その収益の3分の2を単一の製品ライン（iPhone）に依存していることで、世界的なスマートフォン市場の停滞の現実を見ることになる。 同社が市場をリードする立場であり続けるには、2016年に大きな新しい賭けをしなくてはならなくなるだろう。
- distortion - ねじれ、歪み
- retain - 保つ
I’m not exactly sure what those bets might be (augmented/virtual reality, financial services, automotive, enterprise software, media, or some combination of all of these), but I’m convinced that there are a great deal of very smart people at Apple who are undoubtedly thinking through what’s next for them. Maintaining the status quo in 2016 doesn’t seem like a great option, so this should be the year Apple seriously taps into its massive cash reserve and makes some major, game-changing acquisitions.
- the status quo - 現状
Prediction 4: The great hardware stall forces a shift to software and services
As most companies besides Apple have already learned, it’s very hard to make money on hardware alone, and those problems will only be exacerbated in 2016. With expected declines in tablets and PCs, the flattening of the smartphone market and only modest overall uptake for wearables and other new hardware categories, we’re nearing the end of a several-decades-long run of hardware growth. We’ll see pockets of opportunity, to be sure — see Prediction 2 above — but companies that have been primarily or even solely dependent on hardware sales are going to have to make some difficult decisions on how they evolve in the era of software and services.
アップル以外の多くの企業がすでに学んだように、ハードウェア単体でお金を儲けるのは非常に厳しい。そして、2016年にには、それらの問題悪化するだけなのだ。 予測されるタブレットとPCの落ち込み、スマートフォン市場の成長の停滞、そしてウェアラブルと他の新しいハードウェアカテゴリの参入が全体的にわずかであることで、私たちは数十年にわたるハードウェアの成長の終端に近いところにいるのだ。 私たちは、機会のポケットを見るだろう。念のため ― 上の予測2を見てほしい ― しかし、主に、もしくはもっぱらハードウェアの販売に依存してきた企業は、彼らがソフトウェアとサービスの時代の中で進化する方法において、いくつかの難しい決定をしなくてはならなくなるだろう。
- exacerbated - 悪化した
- declines - 下落、落ち込み
As a result, I expect to see more major acquisitions, such as the recent Dell/EMC/VMware deal. The challenge, of course, is that many hardware-focused organizations don’t have the in-house skill sets or mindsets to make this transition, so I expect we’ll see very challenging times for some hardware-focused companies in 2016.
Another potential impact from this hardware stall could be an increased desire for hardware companies to become more vertically oriented in order to maximize their opportunity in a shrinking profit pool. This could lead either to acquisitions of key semiconductor vendors and other core component providers by device makers, or vice versa, but either way, hardware-focused companies are going to have to focus on maximizing profitability through reduced costs. After decades of widening the supply chain horizontally, it seems the pendulum is definitely swinging back toward vertical integration.
このハードウェアの失速による別の潜在的な影響は、ハードウェア企業にとって、 縮小する売上プールのなかで、機会を最大化するために、 より垂直志向になるという増大する欲望がありうる。 これは、機器メーカーによる、主要な半導体ベンダーと他の核となるコンポーネント供給者、両方の買収につながりうる。 もしくは、逆に、どちらの方法であってもハードウェアに着目する企業はコストを削減することによって、利益を最大化することに焦点を合わせなくてはならなくなる。 サプライチェーンが横方向に広がっている数十年後、その振り子は確実に垂直方向の統合へ向かって戻ってくると思います。
- pendulum - 振り子
Prediction 5: Autonomous-car hype overshadows driver assistance improvements
The technological advancements in automobiles have been impressive over the last year or two, with the idea of a connected car, and even a partially automated car, quickly moving from science fiction to everyday reality. However, there are still a number of major legislative, social and technology challenges that need to be overcome before our roadways are filled with self-driving cars.
- legislative - 立法
The real advancements that are starting to take place in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as lane-departure warnings, automatic braking, more sophisticated cruise controls, etc., offer some very beneficial safety benefits. But they’re not as sexy as autonomous driving, so much of the press seems to be overlooking them. Even the car vendors seem to be focused more on delivering their vision of autonomous driving than on what we’ll be able to actually purchase and drive over the next five years. In reality, they’re showing the modern-day version of concept cars instead of production cars, but that point is being missed by many. Remember that, unlike the tech industry, the automotive industry regularly builds and displays products that it has little or no intention of ever releasing to the world at large.
Eventually we will get to truly autonomous cars that regular people can actually buy, but it’s important to understand and appreciate the step-by-step advancements that are being made along the way.
Improvements in car electronics and intelligence are happening at an impressive pace, and the quality of our in-car experiences is going to change dramatically over the next several years. It’s important to put all the advancements in context, however, and recognize that they’re not all going to occur at the same time. We’re really just now starting to get high-quality connectivity into the latest-generation cars, and there are many improvements that we can expect to see in infotainment systems (with or without Apple and Google’s help) over the next few years. As we learned this past year, there are still critical security implications just from those changes, and they won’t all be easily resolved overnight.
Eventually, we will get to truly autonomous cars that regular people can actually buy, but it’s important to understand and appreciate the step-by-step advancements that are being made along the way. These advancements may not be as revolutionary as driverless cars, but they are the news that the automotive industry can realistically deliver on over the next 12 months. Unfortunately, I think the message is going to be lost in the noise of “autonomous automata” this year, leading to thoroughly confused consumers and unrealistic expectations.
Next week, I’ll finish off my 2016 predictions with five more on wearables, foldable displays, IOT, connected homes and VR/AR. In the meantime, have a Happy New Year!