What Will Be Hot and What Will Not in 2015 Tech Trends
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What Will Be Hot and What Will Not in 2015 Tech Trends

It’s that time of the year again: gifts, re-gifting and returns; booze, regret and recriminations; looking backwards, across and forwards.

It’s traditional to make predictions at this time of year even if, like quizzes, giant crosswords and TV ‘specials’ you sometimes wonder if it’s more Nonsense than Nostradamus. Predicting what will take off and what will be a damp squib is as hard to pull off as the Rosetta mission project – but with that spectacular success fresh in the mind, let’s try.

To begin on a negative note, what won’t come off, despite all the hype? I find it hard to imagine that smartwatches will be as popular as some predictions suggest. This is a market moving too quickly. Buy one now and it will be tomorrow’s mullet haircut. There is one likely exception though that we will come to later.

I’m also still a naysayer on 3D printing and it seems to me that even this year the hype has become becalmed. The cheap units don’t do anything useful, the expensive ones are too expensive. If you’re doing rapid prototyping fine, but then you’re in a niche of a niche.

I’m also calling the end of mini-tablet computers. They occupy a no-man’s land that is squeezed between the big-screen phone and the full-sized tablet. I can’t see the appeal and I don’t think many others can either.

Similarly, the e-reader category is no longer necessary and my eyes tell me that the Kindle is being usurped by its app equivalent. The device was necessary to seed the market - giving away the razor to sell blades - but it’s no longer necessary.

As for the Internet of Things, I’m highly suspicious. In many ways it’s already there but the notion of mushrooming networks connecting everything around us is probably a false need and deployment, maintenance and security are riddled with complexity. Hype hasn’t just outsprinted reality, it has lapped it, patted it on the head and disappeared off into the distance.

So if these things are going to be the disappointments, what’s going to be hot?

Well, returning to the mini tablets, big-screen phones are likely to be everywhere. The iPhone 5 and similar-sized products already look underpowered and the extra screen space turns a phone into a reader and media consumption device as well as making for easier input.

And going to back to watches, it’s hard to imagine that Apple won’t sell lots unless it really screws up – and it hasn’t really screwed up for a long time. Naturally there will be the usual post-launch storms in teapots but Apple has locked us into its Brave New World and we have become comfortably ensconced there. Just keep giving us the soma of beautifully engineered, ingenious products and we will buy them.

This might be a breakthrough year for location services, the ultimate bridesmaid technology. The success of iBeacons will help as will Facebook’s launch of Nearby Friends and the maturing of technologies that can precisely locate us, even within buildings. What’s needed is a (WARNING: 1980s phrase approaching) killer app that will persuade us to loosen our privacy settings in order to get a new dimension in our understanding of what is around us.

I also think 2015 will be a pivotal year for Microsoft as millions of users adopt free versions of Office for mobile devices and .NET tools for cross-platform development.

It’s quite likely to be a big year for video too as the GoPro and similar wearable devices become essential parts of more of our lives - for personal safety perhaps, as well as to record our lives.

What else? I don’t see any great need for more social networks so Ello might say bye-bye. There’s no need for more mobile operating systems either (and developers clearly don’t want one) so I don’t expect any of the contender platforms to flourish and compete with iOS or Android. It’s very likely to be a big year for M&A as the heavyweights of technology like Microsoft and IBM seek to reinvent themselves. I can even imagine a partial return to a desire for landline technologies: perhaps some bright spark will make a highly desirable desk-phone so we can hear ourselves. And I love the idea of Unify’s Circuit because conferencing systems have been rubbish for too long.

But only one thing is for sure in 2015: that new unforeseen technologies will discomfort incumbents while others fall by the wayside despite all the predictions otherwise.

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