Just over 15 years ago, the world went into mass hysteria over the Y2K bug -- a turn-of-the-millennium virus that would purportedly cripple our global computer systems. As we now know, the effects of the bug were wildly overestimated, and yet the overreaction has done nothing to curb the audacious industry predictions that inevitably crop up toward the end of each year. Most of these predictions are cautious enough to be realistic. Others, however, prove to be premature -- or, even worse, entirely off-base.
One category most prone to overspeculation is mobile technology, where new developments can change the course of an industry in a matter of months. So, in order to temper some of the most ambitious predictions for 2015, we at Icreon have decided to publish our first-annual “Mobile Anti-Trends Report.”
Unlike most of the trend guides you saw ring in the New Year, this list will focus on big ideas that aren't going to hit it big in 2015 -- but which could, however, take root in more subtle ways.
1. No, credit cards aren't dying
From Venmo to Google Wallet to Bitcoin, we’ve spent years trying to topple the credit card as the be-all and end-all of payment methods. NFC and QR codes have proven to be potential alternatives with programs like Apple Pay and Starbucks’ payment platforms, but, even now, these programs are used by relatively niche audiences.
The one platform that could potentially spur mass US adoption is Apple Pay, but we won’t be seeing this happen in 2015. For one, there’s the issue of adoption: The program requires users to own an iPhone 6 or above, making 2015 largely a year for early adopters.
Perhaps more importantly is the inevitable pushback from some large retailers. These businesses have a vested interest in making sure that Apple doesn’t achieve large adoption too quickly, and it could be years before we see this battle reach any sort of resolution.
2. Not-so-contextual services
If technology that fulfills our needs before we actually experience them sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is too good to be true. Contextual technology, which tracks behavior and preempts users with potential services they might want, will require some progress before making its way into the mainstream.
To deliver contextual services, we’ll need interconnected technology systems that can work together. With the rise of the sharing economy and behavior-monitoring wearables, these systems are definitely becoming more of a possibility. Imagine, for instance, a GrubHub function that automatically delivers food to your apartment once you’ve finished a workout (which, of course, has been tracked by your fitness wearable.) This tech is certainly within reach, but the question of whether or not it will change the world in 2015 is mostly clear: We’ll have to wait for the contextual infrastructure to develop before it becomes a major part of our lives.
3. The Internet of Things...well, some things
Like the gamification trend that came before it, the Internet of Things is something we’ve been hearing about for a while now, but which hasn’t quite taken root as expected. The main problem with the Internet of Things is that every separate experience remains insular in nature. Nest, for instance -- a home automation company whose thermostat was hailed as a harbinger for this sort of technology -- remains a proprietary and independent product. Other technologies remain similarly isolated.
While the Internet of Things will need to sort out its fragmentation issues before hitting the mainstream, there could be some welcoming niches for this tech in 2015. In the travel industry, for instance, we’ve already seen London City Airport implement luggage-tracking as well as facial recognition to make the travel experience more seamless.
4. The slow, precarious rise of modular phones
With Project Ara, Google is taking an early stab at modular smartphones, which will allow users to remove and replace parts according to their needs. This project has drawn lots of attention for its promising functionality, but we almost certainly won’t be seeing a quality modular phone hit stores in 2015.
From battery life to module compatibility, this sort of tech will take years of iteration to get right -- and even more time to reach a price that’s friendly for mainstream consumers. We expect to see early versions of this hardware disappoint. But, as it becomes more refined, we believe the possibilities are practically endless for modular smartphones.