In a recent post from global research firm IDG Connect the author puts on the glasses of scrutiny and tries to highlight some trends from common 2015 predictions and, at the same time, bash others. Mistbreaker takes a closer look at the critique and reevaluates the contribution.
Firstly, the author argues that it is almost impossible to predict trends; one guess could be just as good as the other. However, trend predictions have many purposes. Yes, predicting the future has some elements of entertainment to it, many people (including the author) find it amusing and important to contemplate upon the content of trend lists and evaluate them in accordance with personal beliefs. Others see venture opportunities emerge whereas some fellows spot notions impacting their fields of operations, directly or indirectly.
In all conclusiveness, trend predictions are still a great way to sum up the year and compile easily digested information about the world, its consumers and industries for the forthcoming one. If you want to find out more about a certain bullet point of interest, just do it. The lists provide great conversation topics in the cafeteria but nevertheless act as great foundation in industrial intelligence meetings. To have a large picture is oftentimes as important as having expert knowledge – in any case it works as some sort of inspiration for the mind in order to adjust or diversify a strategy. With this said, let’s take a look at the evaluation by IDG and see if we can decide if the claims are valid (the article can be found here).
Claims: The author sets out with the argument that this type of watch will not be as popular as predicted. The statement is backed up by a description of a fragmented industry that is developing too fast for its own good. The rapid development within the market will scare off users, since they fear that their brand new watch will soon be outdated.
Comments: However valid this comment may be, we need to step back and look at consumer electronics in general. Other wearables, television sets, tablets and computers have previously been subjected to the same forces but it has not stopped consumers from buying.
The smartwatch market has seen rapid growth, albeit from small numbers, even though the early ones seem outdated now. Remember, the first ones were leaving a lot to wish for esthetically, functionality wise and did not even have color displays. Still the growth was there.
We can also look at the numbers presented by BI Intelligence and UBS, for instance. The first one predicts a yearly doubling of general smartwatches (which makes the growth exponential) whereas the second source recently presented that 10 % of consumers are likely to buy a smartwatch within the next 12 months.
We are not saying that IDG does not have a point, but we always have to take a look at history when building and argument about the future. IDG looks for stability in the market, but consumers with money in their pockets often strive for novelty and status – rationality comes second hand. Nonetheless, products have failed before and products will fail again – it just does not seem as if this would be the case here.
Claims: When it comes to 3D printers the author argues that they have yet to become useful. It is put forward that the cheap units cannot do anything substantial and that the higher-end ones are too expensive. The final statement is that 3D printers might have applications if you work with rapid prototyping, but that you then would be within the niche of a niche.
Comments: Many of the world’s largest manufacturers are implementing 3D printing into daily business, at the same time there is a need for rapid prototyping in almost every company that creates physical products. The consumer market might be small right now, but companies see great opportunities in the technology. To say that specialized prototyping firms would be the only niche where this technology has impact borders to ignorance.
Actually, Gartner predicts 220,000 3D printers will be shipped in 2015 as compared to 110,000 in 2014. Again, the growth is exponential and will double every year until 2018, when the worldwide shipment will be more than 2.3 million units. However, the IDG author is right that we are far from a scenario when these printers are as common as paper printers. Nonetheless it is still a considerable trend.
E-readers, Tablets and Phones
Claims: The IDG author sets out declaring that the E-readers such as Amazon Kindle will experience a decline in sales compared to tablets. At the same time, mini-tablets will vanish and we will see mobile phones getting larger.
Comments: These predictions seem quite obvious and could frankly be labeled as low-hanging fruit. How many of us would expect a surge in E-readers, seriously. Forrester Research has already presented a steady decline in E-reader sales since 2011, so where is the news?
Intuitively, the contributor seems right about the declining sales in mini-tablets and growth in large screen phones, which are perfect devices for interacting with and consuming media wherever you are. However, IDC (remember IDC, not IDG) predictions support the growth for the large screen phones, but display only a small decline in the mini-tablet market. 2013 mini-tablets had a 55 % share of the tablet market, whereas the predictions for 2018 indicate a 44.5 % market share.
Internet of Things
Claims: It almost seems as if the IoT would be something similar to an arch enemy in the eyes of the IDG contributor:
“Hype hasn’t just outsprinted reality, it has lapped it, patted it on the head and disappeared off into the distance”
The paradoxical reasoning regards that the IoT is already here in the form of phones and similar things, but that networks connecting everything around us is a false need and deployment. Moreover, maintenance and security are riddled with complexity which makes it hard for IoT to take off.
Comments: It is really hard to grasp the argument here. That the IoT is already here, but we have to live with what we have already got since there are so many dilemmas to be worked out before the network effects can be leveraged to another level is a good guess.
Of course, the points are valid but there is again a need to zoom out and observe the larger picture. Evidentially, controlling lights, coffee machines, thermostats and the like with your mobile phone will not be what drives the growth. The big push will come from businesses, enterprise operations and governments – every dollar and bit of information counts.
According to Siemens’ predictions there will be 17 billion connected devices by 2015 as compared to 12 billion in 2010. However, the share constituted by mobile phones remain relatively stagnant, whereas the part constituted by “things” nearly quadruples. Manufacturing, automotives, robotics and cities are already showing heavy investments in connected technology and the trend is continuous.
However there are evidentially some problems to be tackled. The security issue is one for sure, and also 10 % of IT networks will be overwhelmed by the IoT, according to IDC Internet of Things Predictions for 2015. In any case, these numbers imply a huge penetration rate for the connected devices and the management of daily business. Thus, these problems do not prevent or impede the development of the IoT, but are rather caused when it is alive and kicking.
All together, the IDG article is poorly executed and badly researched. We do not like to backtalk our fellow trend predictors, but it is not fair to mock all other trends’ lists and then produce something that borders to irrelevant. IDG is a respected firm and Mistbreaker has produced the above article in order to make people think critically about non-valid claims. The mission of the IDG author has clearly also been to make people reflect upon the lists we see this time a year, but it should have delivered something substantial. We advice our readers to access the article here and contribute with your own input if you would like to discuss it.