Market disruptions often occur at unexpected moments. From commercial drones to soaring virtual currencies, the coming year is sure to dish out plenty of excitement, events that will define 2014’s place in technology history.
Every day, science fiction writers pump our imaginations with lofty visuals of what the next decade is going to look like. However, only a small percentage of that turns into reality. For example, being teleported seamlessly from one location to another was at one time a dream that some hoped was within reach. Decades later, it has not become a reality.
The likely happenings of the next year are a bit more modest, though still likely to bend the course of technology – and not just in how they will affect the bottom-line of the companies at the helm. It’s also regular people who stand to benefit from new and improved products and services.
With so much happening in so many different areas of tech, it’s easy to get a bit list. That’s why we’re taking a look at everything: from the delivery-drone race, to the myriad of crypto currencies, all the way to how healthcare startups will be under the spotlight in 2014. Here’s a list of five bold predictions for the upcoming year.
Drone Delivery Becomes A Priority
After Amazon announced its drone delivery service, Amazon Prime Air, on ABC News show ’60 Minutes’ last year, it immediately became the talk of the town. It has, after all, been a while since home delivery has seen a breakthrough of that magnitude. While some think that Amazon will go on to establish a monopoly in the automated package delivery business, we think otherwise.
Its close competitors (and fierce rivals) are quickly working on their roadmaps to bring about their own versions of the service. It should come as no surprise when the likes of UPS, and even FedEx, pre-announce their own drone delivery services this year.
This prediction was backed by the fact that a senior UPS executive is quoted to have told The Verge, when speaking about the commercial use of drones, that it was an “interesting technology” and that UPS would “continue to evaluate it.”
Bitcoin Value Undergoes Dramatic Upswing
Akin to a province with rumored reserves of gold in the early nineteenth century, the world of Bitcoin has not only miners, but also big corporate players competing to come out on top in this modern cryptographic gold rush.
The virtual currency has grown over quite a steep curve, going from an exchange of 1,309.03 BTC to each dollar back in mid-2009, to a near complete reversal. An astounding, arguably bizarre value of $1,242 per Bitcoin has been reached – an enormous appreciation, given the short time it has had to grow.
Many say that 2014 will pop this crypto-currency bubble, owing largely to government regulation. On the contrary, it seems likely that large eCommerce players — in the leagues of Amazon and eBay — will adopt support for this virtual currency, and that will effectively propel its value to well above the $2000 mark.
This speculation is based on the fact that the alternative currency spiked up over $1,000 last week after Overstock opened up to accepting Bitcoin as a payment option.
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne claimed Amazon would be “forced” to accept Bitcoin and that the company would be foolish to abandon a rapidly growing market like Bitcoin.
Apple Enters Wearable Tech Market
Apple has been dormant for while now, which is very unlike the company. Though characterized by its radical design-lead products that are aimed at disrupting industries, we’ve seen Apple adopt a more subtle growth pattern on hardware devices in recent years.
Apple is rumored to be on the brink of entering many markets, from the rumoured (and bizarre) ‘iCar’ to the much more plausible ‘iWatch’. We think Apple will enter the wearable gadget market, not because it’s the buzz word of the day, but because Apple has been lining up its efforts along that direction. With the introduction of Siri a few years back, Apple has made clear its vision for technology that is deeply interspersed with your life.
Possibly supporting that idea is the fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a New Year memo addressing all Apple employees, is quoted to have said, “We have a lot to look forward to in 2014, including some big plans that we think customers are going to love.” Could be a big move, like the introduction of an iWatch. Or it could be another new iPad. Time will tell.
A Thinning Of The Cryptocurrency Herd
When Bitcoin first soared above the $1000 mark, the internet was instantly bombarded with a humungous list of alternate crypto currencies. Ripple, Dogecoin, Litecoin, and even Namecoin have entered the fray, to name but a few.
The generation and balance of these alternative currencies is completely based on ‘mining’ of secure crypto graphical hashes. Not many of its users and big time investors are aware of exactly how it works, and the air of mystery no doubt has contributed to the huge general interest.
As of today, there are about 60 different types of crypto currencies available to trade online. Expect this number to plummet to just a few stalwarts by the end of 2014. This is because there are relatively few cryptocurrencies that have as many dedicated followers as Bitcoin and a few of the other alternative currencies, and so not many will survive the much-expected regulation by government authorities.
Authorities will eventually assert their control (some might say rightfully so) on virtual currencies to mitigate the impact they have on real-world economies. The question is, how many currencies will survive under that control? By our estimation, not many.
Tech-revolutions come in phases. A decade or two ago, companies focused on making technology better and available to all. The scenario has quickly shifted away from that, with the emphasis now on making it more personalized and data-driven.
Healthcare is a billion-dollar industry ripe for disruption. It’s only a matter of time before entrepreneurs turn to healthcare for ideas. Built upon today’s cutting-edge and ubiquitous hardware devices, married with the best and most aesthetic software, healthcare related startups will catch favorable wind this year.
Already, the likes of 23andMe and Genelink have embarked on this journey. While one might raise the point of them being subjected to intervention by authorities in recent months, that is to be expected in an industry as important as health. It’s a necessary step, and the standards set in the coming year will undoubtedly shape the fortunes of new entrants into the space.
Healthcare is sparsely occupied market, similar to tablets before the iPad, and also a very important one. In 2014, we expect to see investors, entrepreneurs, and specialists flock to it and build companies that make the healthcare experience simpler and more efficient.
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