After years of unencumbered growth and fawning coverage in the press, the tech giants got hit with a huge backlash in 2017, largely concerning their role in society. After that public relations disaster, no one is probably more glad to see the year come to a close than the members of Big Tech. As we welcome 2018, here are some of the most vital things that will happen in tech this year.
Disney Will Become Netflix’s Biggest Rival, And a War Will Begin
Netflix has room to worry about 2018 / 2019 because Disney is clearly gunning for it.
The Mouse House’s bid to purchase vital shares of 21st Century Fox is clearly aimed at Netflix. But even if the government blocks that deal, Disney is poised to become Netflix’s biggest rival.
Next year, the Hollywood giant will launch its first standalone streaming service. That service will be packed full of the conglomerate’s impressive collection of movies and television shows, which includes everything from Mickey Mouse to Luke Skywalker. Additionally, Disney-owned ESPN will finally launch its own streaming video service, which should be enticing to those cord cutters who are tired of missing their favorite sports.
In addition to gaining a majority stake in Netflix-rival Hulu, the Mouse House would get access to Marvel’s X-Men, and a great collection of television series from the FX network.
Disney is also planning to pull its vital libraries from Netflix. That move alone is going to disrupt Netflix.
Tech Companies Will Pour More Money Into Hollywood – But Get Little In Return
Tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have vital plans to invest heavily in developing original movies, TV shows, and other video content in 2018. Each is slated to pour in billions of dollars in the endeavor.
Their ambitions are understandable. For Apple, being able to offer some great TV series in Apple Music would help set the service apart from rivals. It would also give Apple a way to squeeze more money out of its customers.
Meanwhile, Google and Facebook hope to grow their ad businesses by getting a vital piece of the lucrative television ad market. And Amazon hopes to drive subscriptions to its Prime service because Prime customers tend to buy more things from it than other consumers.
But motivations and money aside, the tech giants’ efforts aren’t likely to produce many hits in 2018, if this past year is any indication.
China’s Consumer Brands Will Bomb In The US
Apple and Samsung have the US tech market locked up and other device manufacturers barely register.
Huawei and Xiaomi, China’s two smartphone giants, aren’t daunted by Apple and Samsung’s US dominance. Huawei plans to start selling a new smartphone through AT&T in early 2018. Meanwhile, Xiaomi is in talks with AT&T and Verizon.
However, if history is any indication, the Chinese companies’ US push is doomed. The smartphone market is littered with companies that tried to take on Apple and Samsung here and failed – HTC, Motorola, ZTE, Google, and so many more.
The lesson? If you can’t offer something unique and offer it through all the major carriers and retailers, you might as well not even try. It’s simply too late in the game for another player to come in and give the US more of the same.
We’ll All Start Worrying About Amazon’s Power
Amazon has plans to expand into pharmaceuticals, digital advertising, and shipping while increasing its presence in physical stores. The company is rapidly transforming itself from a simple digital department store into a commerce colossus that could soon add a Prime layer to practically everything we consume.
When Amazon has entered new areas in the past, its expansion has often come at the expense of the former leaders of those areas. Grocery chains, for example, saw their important stocks collapse when Amazon announced it planned to buy Whole Foods.
With nearly unlimited cash and no viable competitors, Amazon will have unchecked power to topple nearly any consumer industry it wants. By the end of 2018, we’ll have to start asking ourselves if it’s a good thing that Amazon has its claws in so many aspects of commerce and our lives. I’m going to predict the answer will be “no.”
The Augmented Reality Bubble Will Burst
Augmented reality (AR), the technology that layers virtual images on top of real ones, has replaced its cousin, virtual reality, as the most overhyped new tech.
Apple, Google, Facebook, Snapchat, and just about every other major company have started laying the groundwork for turning AR experiences into the next big thing! But despite all the buzz, we haven’t yet seen anything that really demonstrates AR’s alleged potential – unless you want to count Snapchat’s dancing hot dog.
Smartphones, which are the early showcase for AR experiences, turn out to be a terrible medium for the technology. And we’ve seen little evidence to date that developers can use AR to create anything truly innovative or useful.
AR technology likely won’t catch up to the hype surrounding it until someone invents computerized smart glasses that people will actually want to wear. If the AR headset Magic Leap recently unveiled is any indication, that’s a long way off. Really, who would want to strap on a monstrosity like this?
The Artificial Intelligence Bubble Will Balloon
Artificial intelligence has become the catch-all term for computers using what they know about the world to make decisions about new data. Self-driving cars use AI to navigate. Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant uses it to figure out which brand to get when you tell it to buy you some dish soap. Google uses it to automatically organize your photos into albums based on location and facial recognition.
AI is the most promising and vital concept in technology we have, even if you don’t necessarily see it every day. It’s powering the most promising companies and initiatives across all industries, and its importance is only going to grow. Any company that’s not thinking about how AI can make their products better will be doomed to fail.