Predicting Tech News in 2015

Last month, Stuart Miles, founder of the gadget and tech blog Pocket-Lint, asked me to contribute to its feature on “FutureWeek”:

What gadgets will we be using in 2015, where will Augmented Reality take us? What about robots, gadgets of the future, super-fast internet speeds, cars, materials of 2015 and much, much more.

The entire set of stories make excellent reading with insights from thought-leaders around the web. Apart from gadgets, there are other posts on what to expect from the semantic web and how we will consume content in 2015. Being in the technology news business, my thoughts were included in What will be the big tech stories in 2015.

I would like to elaborate on my thoughts here. I must say that these ‘predictions’ are nothing but a reflection of my hopes as well as fears. Further, I sent these on 21st March, after which there have been some interesting developments.

Facebook will not become AOL 2.0. To remain competitive, it will be forced to interoperate with other networks.

There has been discussion on this issue time and again on the web. I personally think the web is resilient to any attempts to dominate it in the long term. I also think the team working at Facebook is wise to learn from the past.

Social Networks will no longer be "places" on the web. Instead, your "social graph" will follow you on the web.

  1. You will control your social graph – choose and add from among different networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google, Windows Live – which will all be interoperable using an open standard. This evolution of social networking will be similar to that of Instant Messaging, where the open XMPP standard became popular, achieving interoperability to an extent.
  2. Rather than social networks wanting you to visit and spend time on their site, they will compete to become an inseparable part of the time you spend online, whether mobile or desktop.
  3. The social graph that follows you will help personalize and customize your browsing experience for everything:
  • Primary Content on websites – for example, which headlines/articles you see
  • Ads – tailored to your social identity and graph
  • Search Results
  • Which friends of yours are online, shown within your browser
  • Reactions/comments from your friends optionally shown for the web page you’re visiting

All the above is pretty self-explanatory. We are already seeing glimpses of this in Facebook chat, Google Sidewiki, and so on. Interestingly, one week after I sent these, there were reports of Facebook planning a “Like” button for any content anywhere on the web, and launching a Meebo-style persistent toolbar. Imagine my reaction when I saw these developments! 🙂

Websites will personalize according to your social graph using mechanisms like Facebook Connect, Google Friend Connect, Twitter Following/Followers graph, etc.

This is an ongoing trend I see towards a personalized relevant web. Again, a week afterwards, there were reports of Facebook sharing your profile data with external sites, so that these sites will tailor content for you.

I had also pointed out Facebook Connect being a mechanism for precisely this goal, when I wrote in January about Facebook’s non-portable data-portability. Marshall Kirkpatrick now points it out as well: there’s a big difference between opt-in and opt-out “data portability”.

Anti-trust legislation will be a major threat to Google’s dominance both in US and EU. "Will Google split up?" will be a question discussed in the media.

This is speculation. Google’s expansion into virtually every aspect of technology have already brought it under the scrutiny of anti-trust authorities.

Apple’s mindshare will start to decline. As Steve Jobs approaches retirement, questions will be asked of Apple’s survival.

Two weeks after I sent this, the question of what happens after the iPad and after Steve Jobs has been asked. I have my doubts about Apple’s innovation and competitive capabilities in a post-Jobs era, but would be happy if they’re proved wrong.

Privacy and Anti-Piracy will continue to make headlines.

  1. On Privacy: We would move to a public-by-default, private by opt-in model.
  2. On Anti-Piracy: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will be in place, along with a global version of the DMCA.

These are my fears and they are very real. ACTA negotiations are making progress, and includes a global version of the DMCA. The politicians behind these negotiations may not understand technology and the people who understand the technology are busy writing about other topics that get their blogs more traffic. It’s also a case of those who matter, don’t understand; those who understand, don’t matter.

Do read the other pieces in FutureWeek. And thanks to Stuart for the opportunity to share my thoughts!

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  • I haven't seen mention of virtual currencies and trade exchanges. In addition the power of trust networks is showing glimmers of what it could be in a few years.

    I think you're dead on with Facebook opening up (I think Apple will join them). We'll all be consuming content on rich web apps that don't require heavy rewriting (and repurchasing) on different hardware like apps. I expect cloud graphics processing and sending rendered information with minimal latency. Certainly augmented reality and hardware that embraces it will be a big part of the tech world of 2015

  • Mark, thanks for your thoughts! Most of your blog posts are so visionary that I'm sure you add a lot of value to this thread.

    I didn't include virtual currencies because I think they will become a reality very soon, much before 2015. There were several other luminaries specializing in gadgets/aug reality, etc. so I restricted myself to areas I was comfortable with. 🙂

  • Your decision makes perfect sense.

    I wish I could communicate as clearly as yourself. My challenge is usually that I get excited and think or speak too quickly when creating analogies to describe my thoughts. The art of giving shape to one's thoughts is completely beyond me at times, but it doesn't stop me from practicing.

  • I hope that by 2015 my social graph is not following but rather, riding an unobtrusive and omnipresent shotgun. I think the core technologies are, or will shortly be, in place to facilitate this. Maybe then we rename it the “social singularity” …..or perhaps I am getting ahead of myself?

  • Interesting post Mahendra, however I felt Mark's addition of rendering graphics and cloud processing should have been mentioned – it's one of the most most exciting and lucrative industries in the tech world.

    Apple is for rich sectarian people, not for people (like use, I'm assuming) who might like to build their own computers. 😉 It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds, but perhaps you're right and the fanboys and user generated content will flatline after Jobs's retirement.

    I appreciate your insight here, as always. I can't help but remember a web 10+ years ago when placing one ad on Yahoo was enough for people to think twice about what the consequences that would hold for the future of their business.

    We've come a long way and almost everybody's a cowboy nowadays…

  • Hi Jim,

    'unobtrusive and omnipresent' – exactly! 🙂 Nice way to put it, and yes, I believe the technologies are almost in place. It's not the technology, but the inter-company competition and politics that will delay the vision I described (I think).

  • Thanks, Addy.

    Graphics isn't my focus, so I'm not aware of advances in rendering etc., but as regards cloud computing, I think it will be a seamless experience between local/desktop and cloud. Since each company and its service will use its own cloud, I don't see any reason why this should be delayed until 2015 – it should happen much before that. I foresee new startups that enable cross-cloud functionality for data portability too.

    We will have to wait and see how Apple does in the long term. Yes, we've a very long way…:)

  • I understand where your expertise lies, and it's wise of you to stay relevant, especially here on your blog . Always a pleasure to be part of the discussion..