2015 was a very important year in the world of technology. We saw the beginning of a new era in virtual reality as well as significant changes in the technology market that could lead to a power struggle among tech giants in the near future. Without basking too much in last year’s news, let us move on and make some bold predictions about trends we expect to see in 2016.
Virtual Reality (VR) Renaissance
VR has been around for decades but it really kicked off in the past couple years. This resurgence was powered by developments at Oculus and its subsequent purchase by Facebook. Most interested parties spent 2015 demonstrating their VR technology while targeting a 2016 release date. With the launch of Oculus, HTC and Sony’s VR headsets just over the horizon, be prepared to witness these brands going head to head to emerge as the leaders in the VR market. It is important to note that the respective VR kits will be consumer releases meaning if you’re interested, you could easily get a VR headset to play with albeit at some high costs.
The Fall of Wired Headphones
If recent reports are correct, Apple’s latest iPhone will ditch the 3.5mm headphone port in favour of audio powered through the lightning cable. This is supposedly a tactic to allow for an even thinner iPhone. However, the removal of the headphone port is not the main issue. Wired headphones have been annoying for a very long time. Cables get tangled and snap and smartphone cases do not all accommodate the bulky jacks. Bluetooth has progressed to a point where audio quality is no longer compromised and battery life too is good. The demise of the wired headphones was imminent and Apple’s move will only accelerate its slow disappearance. It is time to move on from this old standard and allow wireless technology to become the norm in 2016.
Smarter Wearables for the Smarter Consumer
Wearables did not really take off as expected in 2015. Even Apple surprisingly failed to make a compelling case with its Apple Watch but that goes to show how difficult competing in this field really is. At CES 2016, we saw some key players tackle the wearable sector by giving the products purpose. Up until now, consumers did not have any convincing reason to purchase these products outside for dedicated fitness tracking. CASIO’s WSD-F10 smartwatch for example incorporated a signature rugged build and water resistance up to 50m to appeal to the outdoorsy crowd. It also had a power conserving mode that stretched battery life to 30 days although not without functionality compromises. For 2016, we speculate more companies will enter the smart wearables market and take a page out of CASIO’s book. Expect to see more rugged wearable with better fitness tracking capabilities as this remains the primary attraction aside from the “coolness” factor.
If you scroll through the smartphone history books, you will probably see a pattern. Over the years, smartphones have become more and more homogenous. It seems that almost every major player has a great camera, beautiful design, excellent display and powerful specifications. We are at a point where such aspects vary very slightly thus leading manufacturers to find other ways to differentiate their products. We saw Samsung attract customers with their Edge displays, LG tried a secondary mini display with the V10 while Apple showed off 3D Touch on the new iPhones. All these were unique approaches to the smartphone but none were truly useful or enthralling. This trend of relatively boring smartphones is unfortunately expected to continue in 2016 until a big drop in sales is observed. A similar sales drop forced Samsung to revamp their Galaxy S line in 2015 and that ended well for Samsung.
2016 looks to be a bright year for the world of technology. We hope to see recently introduced product categories finally mature throughout this year but do not think we will see any new product categories. In case you were wondering about smart home automation, we believe they still have a long way to go before a major consumer adoption. From the look of things, 2016 should be a year where a lot of tech will go mainstream whereas existing categories will search for revitalization.