Trends in Tech for 2014

Video Messaging
FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Snapchat – video chatting has taken us by storm. How do people naturally communicate? How do we prefer to “kill time”? Chatting, and video is so much more fun than text!

Music Videos
Did MTV kill the radio star? Mp3s have still owned the Internet “airwaves” for two decades since, but with music reality shows on dominating the networks and aspiring artists on Youtube, Beyonces all video album may be expected for every artist.

Twitter Visuals
To compete in this visual world with a social network that is literally a “book of faces” and others that promise real motion snippets, the tiny text platform is looking to step up its game with photos and video tech. And now it has the money for the talent. #Programmers wanted 4 @Twitter.

Netflix Rebound
After Blockbuster crumpled under the Netflix rise, they tried to quickly add their own mail service to save it. As Amazon Prime and Hulu began competing seriously in streaming video, it Netflix stock fell. But unlike Blockbuster, Netflix innovated beyond its competitors by putting out their own programs. Programs that are now competing with tv networks!

Square Everywhere
While I’m waiting with breath that’s baited for a Square IPO, I can’t see banks or credit card companies sitting quietly by while options like PayPal and besieged Bitcoin change online finance. Already mobile check deposits are ubiquitous, I suspect other mobile payment is next.

Wifi As a Right
Speaking of which, funny but not funny, was a meme of a tree saying “If Trees gave off wifi, I suspect we’d plant those everywhere. Too bad trees only give oxygen.” The point? Where there is demand there will be innovation. Not only will “free wifi” be everywhere, but telecomm companies will be making money off unlimited data instead of outdated call time plans.

3D Printers
Easy Bake Oven good bye. Barbie computer games move over. GenY, your four to fourteen year old will be building her own Barbies with 3D printing. Thinking of getting your mom a Keurig for Christmas? How about a 3D printer so she can make her own customized cups? Hello new Etsy commerce!

Facebook Mobile
Now listed on the S&P 500 and still the highest profits for a social network, I’m holding my Facebook stock and betting on new innovations in mobile. Like the first site he threw up, Zuckerberg knows launching is everything. Already video innovations has added Vine-like experience with Facebook mobile.

Tesla Batteries
Uh, cool. GenZ has hippie Baby Boomers to thank for creating the Eco/sustainability culture Millennials are now stepping into. Add in the geek-is-chic and hipster cool, and voila, Tesla gets what GM doesn’t about Millennials. We want cool things that “do things”, but take away the consumptive guilt from the wasteful world we grew up in.

Scrolling Websites
Ok, so every website is going to Drupral, and pretty pictures, and scrolling instead of hateful page flipping, making sites mobile friendly, and ADD friendly. But whats next in site innovation? Probably sites more like Pinterest and Buzzfeed where pictures and silly phrases constantly pull your attention to another story.

Zipcar to Smartcar
A spirited debate between my Startup Grind team and Gary Shapiro one night brought us to the future of transportation. Does the Millennial trend towards shared use cars mean the end of ownership? Absolutely not. Millennials are delaying having families so they stay in metro areas where Zipcar, Uber and Car2Go flourish, but we grew up with cars. We will be raising our kids in cars, just better, faster, smarter cars. Millennials are the info generation. Your cars have to be truly innovative – the hype is hollow. And car sharing? There’s a reason you avoid touching the metro handrail.

Wearable Tech
I have to give a nod to this obvious trend. I can barely go to a happy hour in DC without seeing someone wearing Google Glasses – it’s like the LV bag for the tech scene. Add in the watch rings lighting up the Internet and the Instagram gloves flying off the shelves, obviously we want what we wear to sync with our tech. Technology gives us enhanced and new senses, somewhat in the way our clothes keep us warm and protected. Wearable tech will catch on with every generation because its so “natural” to humans.

Three Longterm Trends

Death of the Written Word
I know, [sadface]. Written word has only been around for my Irish Norwegian lines for about a thousand years. Guess how people passed information before that? Similar to how news anchors, teachers and bosses do – they talked to each other! They also drew pictures. Now we have computers and video to capture us communicating the way we did it for the 200,000 years prior: Yea, talking!

Smart Homes
I asked Gary Shapiro who’s house was cooler – his or Steve Jobs? While the question was a little late in timing, he did talk about his preprogrammed home, filled with awesome automation. Smart cars are already on the market, and homes were “smarter” even in my childhood, with security systems, central vacuums and sound systems. I walk in the door at 7 and Apple’s holo projector starts showing a Netlfix episode on my wall while my Facebook friends list scrolls on left letting me know who else is watching as my microwave beeps with the dinner I voice activated during my ride home? Um, yes.

Americans Inventions
I believe the economic crisis and the popular media have scared Millennials and GenZ enough that STEM majors are taking over. Working for an honor society for college students, I can see the trends in majors that “guarantee good jobs”, like accounting, health care, engineering and science. And for those not “using their degrees”? Companies like General Assembly are filling in the education gaps for programming and design. As for China? I’ve been there, and while they are moving, I believe in America’s competitive edge in a creative culture of innovation.

The Biggest Threat to Facebook is Innovation

This was from an answer on Quora.

We forget before there was Facebook, there was Friendster, there was MySpace, there were chatrooms, email and AIM. There will always be the threat of a smart person creating something infinitely better.

Here are the things a “New Facebook” social network would win with:

OpenID – We hate usernames and passwords. They’re really annoying, impossible to remember the more clever you are with them, and seem like a sketchy way of keeping your information safe. (Can’t someone just “hack it?”) Any identification alternative is what Facebook would say is their biggest threat. They are moving to become a “reiteration of the internet” through Facebook ID which other sites like Slideshare are using to “verify” who we are. This identification system isn’t just good for marketing, it’s good for security, it’s necessary for custom portals and personalized experiences across the web, television (Apple TV, etc.) and mobile. Create the ultimate ID and you own the web.

Search – Right now we as consumers are urging engines like Bing to become more social, to let us find content through our friends. All well and good but sometimes you just need to find something that none of your friends know any thing about. (Like tarsorrhaphy). Control the way people access the web, and you control the web. This is why competition between Google and Bing is so important, and why if Google could ever get Buzz to take off, it poses serious domination for Facebook. Google is what Facebook is afraid of.

Interest Networks – Facebook exists as a closed system functioning on exclusivity. I don’t use Facebook to meet new people outside of my network, meaning people I already know. When I’m looking to meet people sharing my interests or in my industry, I use LinkedIn or Twitter, or I’m redirected from blogs to a social profile after I find these people on outside networks. I was just talking about this in a #u30pro chat on Twitter, and today I saw David Armano, a person I have never met, but as a digital person look to for advice, posting this question. Right now I’m working on a scientific social community. Try to imagine being a researcher and using Facebook to find experts in your field. It’s near impossible to find them or verify them.

Social Content Curation – This is what I call services like Twitter and the new Mashable Follow, which have you “follow” people you know or in Twitter’s case, you’ve found through chats and hashtagged interests. You can see what they’re posting on and interested in. Facebook doesn’t give me enough relevant news content from my friends. (Just great music videos.) The reason we make fun of people on Twitter writing about their lunches is because it’s not relevant, and with the vast amount of content on the web, reading about someone’s lunch wastes our time. The result is I spend less time on Facebook as relationships and party pictures stop being “news”.

Social Ecommerce – Facebook has attempted to do ecommerce with I believe Pampers and other Facebook stores, but the attempts have been marginally successful at best. Amazon and Etsy, and other semi-social ecommerce providers continue to be extremely successful because they crowdsource from the entire web. My friends may not give enough relevant information for Amazon “suggestions” or create the product I love like Etsy.

Trust – Even Gawker got hacked and we can’t blame Facebook for accessing our information to sell ads. Why don’t we trust Mark? We give our bank account numbers to Paypal and Prosper, our birthdates to just about any site on the web, and our business cards to local prize drawings, so why are we so terrified what Facebook is doing with our baby pics? Facebook is a free service, which needs to generate revenue, which is does through ads, and we hate on them for it. Do we trust LinkedIn more because they generate money through Pro memberships and corporate pages? Ignoring the regulation which is petty and an ongoing battle as corporations find ways to skirt it, a site with a different revenue model could ensure trust.


Information Age II
– The web was not created to connect people but to give open access to information. The internet evolved out of colleges needing to access shared information on multiple computers. Today the internet continues to function as our Encyclopedia, our experts, our Dictionaries, newspapers and textbooks. Facebook does not host the vast amount of content and resources necessary for this. Sites like Quora and Wikipedia, if they are able to integrate social components and provide the credentials necessary to verify the information posted, will be a true “reiteration of the world wide web”.

Comments?? Can you do me better? I dare you!