From time to time, I have given predictions and opinions about emerging trends and technology. Given the fast pace of such things, I decided it would be interesting to reflect and report on their evolution – even though only a year (maybe two) has passed.
First up – mobile barcodes. Back in April 2010 I called them “Snap Tags” – but the idea is the same. At the time I made my comments, I didn’t think that I was on the “bleeding edge” knowing about these things, and yet I still have the feeling that proximity marketing is something that is very much still emerging. Back then more than now, viewers were often plopped onto non-mobile-friendly pages with nary an instruction – resulting in abominable mobile experiences. While all of that hasn’t absolutely changed, it has improved as marketers have caught up with the trend. There are a lot of potentially exciting opportunities with this or similar mechanisms, but it hasn’t quite caught on like I thought it might by now. I think part of this stems from the fact that code scanning continues to require too much knowledge/effort from the consumer to execute and many early adopters might have been turned off from the get-go because marketers and consumers learned about this new tactic together – with mostly floundering results.
Next – tablets. This is the latest deathmatch after the explosion of the smart phone. Everybody’s got a tablet to sell. I saw this coming from visiting the CES show in 2011 – 80+ tablets were on display at the time. At least a chunk of them are now mainstream with a few clear leaders. The war continues without a lot of surprises, other than I was sad at the lack of interest in Blackberry’s Playbook. I saw it launched at CES and I thought it gave them a good shot at a comeback. Unfortunately, people barely seem to be aware that Blackberry has a tablet and I, myself, had to double-check that it really was called a “Playbook” because no one is talking about it. At the moment, I see three paths – the e-reader (which contains Kindle and Nook), iPad and then lastly the myriad of Android tablets, of which the latest Nexus 7 is part. If iPad fails to do well in the future, it is because it died of 1,000 duck bites by all of the Android choices available. If e-readers win out, presumably the customer is all about price, since another hundred dollars can get you a tablet that doubles as an e-reader. Maybe what wins will be a hybrid of sorts – we’ll have to stay tuned and see!
As an aside, I should mention that I’m a recent proud owner of an iPad 2. They are inexpensive since the launch of iPad 3 which didn’t have upgrades significant enough to warrant the additional cost in my mind. I immediately installed the “mandatory” apps: Evernote, Netflix, Pandora, The Weather Channel, etc. but I also found several awesome free educational apps for my 9 year-old. The best of what I’ve found is: SparkleFish (like MadLibs, but in audio), Toontastic (create your own animated stories! So much fun!), Sushi Monster (math fact practice), Scribble Press (publish your own book), Chicktionary (creating as many words as you can with a single set of letters) and Magic Piano (self-explanatory). We have had so much fun learning and exploring, it actually is taking time away from less educational (although fun and addictive) games like Plants vs Zombies, Temple Run and Bejeweled. (I won’t include Angry birds as I think it does have merit from a physics perspective.)
What to touch on next? Social media, of course! MySpace… MySpace? Unless you’re in the entertainment or music industry – this one has fallen off the map. Moving on – Facebook, in my opinion, has reached its saturation point – at least in the US. Those that have ever considered signing up, have probably done so and either gone on to either stay or delete their account. It was sold at what I think was the height of its success and then I believe it will continue more-or-less at a stable pace unless they do something pretty amazing (or something completely horrible) or something new and exciting takes its place. Speaking of…Pinterest has a ton of potential as it is still being discovered by people saying, “What? I don’t get it!” then they start browsing, and pinning, and coming back in a day or two to see what’s new and then continue browsing and pinning and browsing and pinning and…addicted! I think if it can latch on harder to male viewers, they will really have something. LinkedIn – I see LinkedIn as a slow, steady turtle – but they’ve built a good system and I think it is better than anything similar out there. I’ve tried BranchedOut (Facebook app for creating work contacts) and it doesn’t have nearly the power of LinkedIn. I think people are concerned with connecting personal Facebook accounts in their professional world, even though plenty of tools exist for managing “friends” and what they see. Facebook has really simplified their privacy management tools, but the task is still perceived as “difficult”, and does not bode well for them. I have recently heard a few professionals touting LinkedIn for B2B, to which I say, “Yah…” I’m a little confused as to why this concept is a paradigm shift for people as I always included that (in my mind) as one of the applications for LinkedIn. The only reason there is new buzz around this concept is that maybe there are articles from industry “experts” or LinkedIn themselves is spotlighting this fact, or maybe LinkedIn actually has enhanced this area? Anyway, this new “trend” I’m hearing about wasn’t anything earth shattering to me. Lastly, Google+. Poor, poor Google+. It has the makings of something successful, but people simply do not want to learn a new tool and then re-create their timelines, posts and friends in said tool. I’m not saying it will *never* be a success, but they have to find something to hook people to get it to take off. If Google could buy Pinterest – now that might be something! Google+ is just like a stew with something missing…and they need to find out what that certain something is or face certain doom. On another topic – almost a year later and I still feel about the same about Klout – I’m strangely interested in what my score is, and yet simultaneously not completely buying into the fact that the score reflects my social media involvement, especially without the addition of Pinterest. (where I’m currently most active)
Last, but not least, are my thoughts on The United States versus Cable Companies. It seems like the masses are doing everything in their power to move away from cable companies and save money in the process. The Internet provides multiple ways around getting small and large-screen content for free – but they still have to pay for their Internet service, which is many times owned by…a cable company. I count myself among those who have flown the cable coop. My best ally? My trusty Roku box! I have sung its praises before, and I will continue to do so. We have an internet-enabled Panasonic Blu-Ray player that pales in comparison to the power of Roku. Part of this equation also is Netflix. Though there have been some scandalous moments in the history of Netflix, I continue to be a happy customer. I pay only for the streaming version as I have a constant list of 60-70 titles in my queue at any given time. It is also helpful Netflix continues to add to their instant-queue-enabled content every day. In fact, just recently, I noticed a flood of awesome movies I’ve wanted to watch again. Also on my radar are other similar services like Vudu, which offers on-demand newer-release movies – which in my mind would help fill the gap of Netflix offering mostly older movies. I’ve used the service only once, but I think it (and other, similar services) have great potential for growth going forward..
So – an interesting look back. I feel pretty good about my past opinions and projections as they’ve generally seemed to stick. I can’t wait to see what’s over the next horizon – it is so thrilling to explore and try the next big thing!