Many thanks and Happy New Year
As the year draws to a close, it marks nine months of providing you with some daily thoughts on dis-rup-shun. I have encountered a number of readers over the holidays that have offered their support, endorsement and general satisfaction with this contribution to your inbox, so onward we go. If you have specific suggestions on how this newsletter could be more helpful to you (longer, shorter, more focused, etc.), please share.
A few predictions from off the cuff, after perusing the top daily news sources for the past nine months:
- Big Tech will face some friction from Congress, the FTC, and states’ attorneys general, but these efforts will do little to check the power and growth of these economic engines. The lack of regulation will result more from the lack of focus of legislators, rather than defensive postures of Big Tech.
- Amazon understands how to penetrate new markets and new industries. Facebook and Google are not as adept at winning in non-core businesses. Microsoft has a laser focus on closing the cloud computing gap behind AWS, and will make significant progress. Expect Amazon to continue to amaze and frighten, while Facebook and Google will continue to disappoint.
- Apple will have another strong year, fueled by sales of gadgets such as AirPods, watches and a less expensive iPhone. The company’s services businesses, with the exception of its very successful credit card launch, will struggle to gain significant share, including its Arcade gaming, and Apple TV Plus, as differentiation in services will be more difficult for Apple. The company will continue to slowly move into the uncharted waters of personal health, working more closely with medical experts to find new health applications for its powerful wearable platform, Apple Watch.
- Smart home and home automation products will continue to improve in functionality and value, with deeper cooperation between vendors who are attempting to advance in the wake of Alexa and Google Home market penetration. These home ecosystems will grow, providing many more options for home control, however this disjointed approach will not suffice for high-end homes that want an end-to-end system, or those that want a rock solid, monitored home security system. Cool new smart home products and machine learning will continue to transform integrated systems, as systems providers such as ADT, Vivint and Alarm.com seek to keep their systems up to par with the latest hot products.
- Autonomous machines will continue to pop up, with airplanes, helicopters, delivery carts, and cars that drive themselves being tested in many applications. Until a great deal of test data is released by trusted authorities, consumers will continue to be wary. Autonomous car vendors will need to educate the public that although their cars are not perfect and have killed, they are already safer than 50% of human drivers on the road today — a tough assignment for the marketing agency.
- Trade wars will be resolved by mid-year, with the Trump administration claiming some wins, and with China’s tech industry and especially Huawei strengthened by adversity. The resolution of the trade wars will spur the economy to an exceptionally strong second half, and will further delay or dispel talks of global recession.
I wish you constructive disruption in this coming year. Whether it’s your job, your business, your personal life, or all of the above, be ready for disruption. As my Peloton instructor says, “Learn to be comfortable with discomfort.” Happy New Year.