This was supposed to be time for my technology predictions for 2015, which I’ll get to yet, I promise, but first I want to explain the major trend I see, that 2015 will become known as The Year When Nothing Happened. Of course things will happen in 2015, but I think the year of truly revolutionary change will be 2016, not 2015. It takes time for trends to develop and revolutionary products to hit the market. I’d say the trends are clear, it’s the products and their manufacturers who aren’t yet identifiable. So here are three areas where I’ll disagree with most of my peers and say I don’t expect to see much visible progress in 2015.
1 — Data security. It will get a lot worse before it gets better. Data breaches in commerce, industry, government, and the military have become so pervasive that we’re being forced as a society into a game change, which is probably the only way these things can be handled. But game changes take time to implement and impose. The basic problems come down to identity, communication, information, and money. You can come at it from any of these directions but the only true solution is to approach them all at the same time. If we can come up with better ways to define identity, to control communication, to secure information, and to define money then it gets a lot harder to steal any of these. None of these will happen in 2015.
An expression that might have jumped out at you as odd is “define money,” but that’s key. We have to add metadata to money — all money. Where did it come from? Who created it? Who had it last? Such smart money would be harder to steal, easier to trace, and therefore more difficult for the bad guys to use. Of course this goes completely in the face of trends like BitCoin, where money is not only identifiable but completely anonymous. Still I see these two trends as allied. BitCoin, while anonymous, embraces completely the concept of money being verifiable. You can’t counterfeit BitCoins. Further defining money is just a matter of adding additional metadata fields. And adding fields can be mandated by those entities that accept money like Central banks. Apple Pay is part of defined money but it needs more features. BitCoin is another piece, but more is needed. We’ll see these broadly discussed in 2015 but nothing will be resolved this year.
2 — Entertainment. We spend so much of our time seeking diversion and so much of our disposable income buying it that anything fundamentally changing these behaviors will bring a revolution. For all the importance given to the word creativity when it comes to entertainment, this industry is for the most part reactive, not active. The TV, Movie, and music businesses want to hang onto the success they already have. But all are in turmoil. I’ve laid this out in column after column, but sometime soon a major cable or phone company is going to go truly a la carte and when that happens the entertainment business will be changed overnight. Again, I predict this won’t happen until 2016, but we’ll see precursors in 2015 like Dish Network’s new Over-The-Top service. Charlie Ergen of Dish is a dangerous man and I like that.
3 — Wearables. The big frigging wearable deal of 2015 is supposed to be the Apple Watch, but it won’t be. The reason is simple — Apple’s watch is too thick, costs too much, and doesn’t have enough battery life. It’s the 128K Macintosh of smart watches. There are ways to solve these problems — ways that are quite obvious to me — but they’ll require new chips that I know are coming but aren’t quite here. So here’s another one for 2016 when I guarantee watches will be thin, cheap, have batteries that last longer than those in your phone, and these watches will do more, too. But they’ll be doing it in 2016.
The Apple Watch is Cupertino grabbing mindshare and early adopter wallets, nothing else.