At the start of each new year I like to clarify my thoughts by writing about a few things I think are worth keeping an eye on in the year ahead. They’re not predictions; I’m not a futurist. In previous years I’ve described these as trends, but they’re better thought of as signals. Or, even better, just some things I think are interesting.
A range of new flagship phones got shown off at the MWC19 trade fair. At one end of the scale, Samsung introduced three variations of its premium Galaxy S10 and a new model, the Galaxy Fold, with its innovative folding screen and almost $2,000 price tag. At the other, the Wizphone WP006, a phone made only for Indonesia (where it will be sold in vending machines), costing about $7.
The WP006 is a featurephone; it has a hardware keyboard, no touchscreen, 4G connectivity, runs on KaiOS (an operating system based on the abandoned FirefoxOS project), and has a prominent microphone button—it’s a voice-forward phone, powered by Google Assistant.
For the last couple of years part of my job has been to keep my colleagues and employer up to date on technology trends; to make sure that everyone knows the moves in the technology landscape, and to try to follow trends in the market to help the company position itself well to meet them. This post is about a new process I’m implementing on a couple of aspects of that part of my role.
I have two problems that I want this process to solve. The first is that I want to be able to better track trends in technology, to understand new product releases and actions with better reference to what’s happened before. The second is that I send a weekly email newsletter with curated links to the most relevant and useful stories about the technology landscape, but my current method of assembling it’s cumbersome. I’m experimenting with a solution to both of these problems using Airtable.
For the past few years I’ve got into the habit of starting the new year with an article consolidating my thoughts on where we’re at with consumer digital technology; looking at the landscape, and at what the biggest players are doing—my focus is mostly on Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, but it’s not exclusively on them. I want to tease out a few trends to help orient myself in my role for the year ahead. I try not to make predictions, but perhaps play out some possibilities.
There are two big declines at the core of this year’s trends, which I think set the tone for where consumer tech might head in 2019. They are the smartphone decline, and the Facebook decline.