There’s been much debate recently over the future potential and likelihood for success of several new tech products and initiatives in 2015 and beyond. With the growth of tech companies in the last couple of decades, and the associated spike in recent investment, we analyse some of the products and initiatives which are hot topic in 2015, and evaluate their likely success. Because of the maturity and increased sophistication of tech investment recently, one could infer that any product that has made it into the public consciousness is destined to succeed, however, for every iPhone there were plenty of Amstrad Emailers, and for every Google Driverless Car, there was the Sinclair C5. We’ll cover these potential flops in a second, follow up blog post, but for this first installment, we’re going to focus on those products and services that we think are going to blow up in 2015.
Nest/Hive Intelligent Thermostats
When Google bought Nest for $3.2bn a year ago, there was widespread public confusion as to why a search engine would buy a central heating thermostat for such a huge amount of cash. But Google isn’t *just* a search engine, and Nest isn’t *just* a thermostat. Nest, and its competitor product, British Gas’s ‘Hive’, are examples of intelligent technology which will see 2015 be their breakthrough year. Technology which ‘learns’ has been on the radar since the BBC brought us Tomorrow’s World, however intelligent thermostats are an example of something that we will actually use, and soon. Through partnerships with large energy companies such as NPower, & British Gas, Nest & Hive will lower your heating bills by learning how you live. When you go out, which rooms you use, when you use the most energy, etc; and will automatically control your heating accordingly. It promises to be better for the environment and better for your wallet – two things which often seem mutually exclusive. We think that intelligent thermostats will take off this year for 4 main reasons:
- In the UK we are building 200,000 new homes per year
- Energy bills have tripled in the past 10 years
- Smartphone penetration allowing home automation technology has reached critical mass
- British Gas and NPower are offering significant discounts on the technology to encourage uptake.
Verdict: Hit. Warm me up Scotty, there's intelligent life on the wall
Fitbit/Jawbone Fitness Tracking apps
2015 is the year that *everyone* will be getting fit and tracking their progress with wristbands and phone apps. Some of the main providers – Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike Fuelband, Samsung Gear Fit, have been around for years – but mainly only used by ‘serious fitness freaks’. The most recent catalyst for a spike in uptake (aside from new years’ resolutions and post Christmas present giving) was the update of Apple’s iOS which included a ‘Health’ app. General awareness has been a slow burn, but more and more people are getting on board the fitness tracking train. 2015 could also be the year that the fitness tracking industry crosses over from being a fun way to monitor your fitness progress, to allow you to save money on your health and life insurance through providers such asVitality Life
Verdict: Hit. Step to it (and make sure you count them)
In recent months drones have hit the news – not always for good reasons. We’re not going to focus on the sector for which drones were originally created – military, but we see a huge consumer opportunity for the use of drones in the next 12 months. Amazon announced in December 2013 that they were exploring a new service called ‘Prime Air’ which would use airborne drones to deliver packages under 2kg to customers houses within 30 minutes of ordering. UPS has also investigated drone technology as it looks to continue moving ahead of the curve in the logistics space The concept is still in development and there are several legal and safety hurdles to jump first, but the message is clear: We have the technology, and we’re trying to harness it for mass consumption. Drones have more virtuous potential uses as well: A Dutch student has developed a prototype drone ‘ambulance’ which can bring a defibrillator to patients suffering heart attacks Current cardiac Arrest survival rates are only 8%, and the time saved by delivering a defibrillator has potential to massively increase this rate. Drone photography is also massively on the rise, driven by falling technology costs, and accessibility. From a photographer’s point of view the results can be amazing
Verdict: Hit. We’ll be Droning on about this for months.
Apple has recently announced that their much anticipated smartwatch will launch in Spring 2015. With this foray into wearable watch tech, Apple is going head to head with Google and others to capture the largest share of a nascent sector. What’s interesting in this instance is that unusually in recent years, Apple is following, rather than leading, with their new product launch. Google have been running Android on a number of devices since last year, but with Apple’s entrance to the market, we expect 2015 Smartwatch sales to rocket. Unlike the other products that we’ve highlighted, the concept of a smart watch isn’t really groundbreaking from a technological perspective. It’s really just taking the best bits of your Smartphone and putting them onto your wrist, and we’re not suggesting that they’re about to usher in a new era, in the same way that the iPod and iPhonedid, however it’s because of those products that we’re convinced that the Apple watch is going to blow up.
We’re perhaps being a little unfair when we imply that this is ‘same stuff, new packaging’ – it will change the way in which we search, for example. Voice search, coupled with location services and pedometer/fitness tracking will enable Google and Apple to build up a picture of your life, and serve you ‘relevant’ products and services more easily. However the main reasons are twofold. Apple create beautiful products, which sell in their millions. Google take innovative concepts and try and make them free, or cheap to the mass audience. Whether you’re an Android or iOS user, the chances are that if you’re into your tech, you’ll probably be wearing one of these by the end of the year.
Verdict: Hit. Your wrist will soon be for more than just telling the time.
From mobile phones, to monitors, to TVs, 2015 is the breakthrough year for curved screen technology. Samsung and LG have been leading the way with the development of curved screen tech, and have been showing it off at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year. Each of the South Korean giants have a 4k UHD Curved OLED TV in market at the moment as their flagship products. Cynics suggest that these screens a gimmicks to differentiate a homogenous product, and to get us upgrading our TVs more regularly, however the alternative view is ‘why wouldn’t you’? With the price of televisions tumbling in real terms, it’s never been cheaper to own a flatter, larger TV than previously available. The expert view will point to the enhanced ‘cinema style’ viewing, which means that the film or programme on display will ‘wrap around’ the viewer, although again, it’s questionable how many of us can find the space for a 78” panoramic TV in our front rooms. The real advances in curved screens will be in mobile. A product that we upgrade more frequently and often for ‘free’ (or rather, no upfront cost), this is where the real opportunity for growth is. We feel that curved screens will blow up, even if they are just a marketing gimmick. The consumer electronics buying public love gimmicks, and with Samsung & LG dominating this space and leaving traditional stalwarts of Sony and Panasonic behind, millions will buy their new products, because they can.
Verdict: Hit. We just love their curves.
So 2015 looks like it’s shaping up to be an exciting year, when some previously far off concepts become consumer reality. Soon, we’ll take a look at the new tech developments which we’re confident will bomb. Now where did I leave my Google Glass….?