On New Years Eve, 2017, we wrote an article with predictions for the 2018 year in tech. Now that the Halloween has passed and we are in the midst of the end of the year Holiday season, now’s a good time as any to reflect on those predictions, and see what we got right, and where we hilariously swung and missed.
1.) Our first prediction was that Virtual Reality would blossom as a medium in 2018. We were pretty much right with this one. While our prediction focused mostly on entertainment applications of VR, a field in which it certainly did grow, the medium found much of it’s growth propelled in other fields as well, including education, mental health, sports, commerce, and physical therapy, amongst countless other fields. The applications of Virtual Reality appear to be boundless at this juncture, and it’s a safe bet to predict that it will continue to grow and thrive as a tool and medium for the foreseeable future. If you haven’t done so already, now might be the best time to invest in this growth before the market for VR matures.
2.) Our second prediction was that driverless automobile technology would start progressing past the testing phase and into production and public offering. Unfortunately, we were a tad bit ahead of ourselves here. 2018 has thus far demonstrated the limitations of driverless technology as tragic accidents have lead to well publicized loss of life. Other non-fatal accidents have also occurred as the technology demonstrates why testing is always important before rushing to production. However, there’s still enough potential and promise in the technology that Tesla is starting to lose it’s monopoly in the field. Other companies are testing driverless technology, and that’s a good thing! More competition leads to better innovation, better prices, and ultimately, better options once driverless cars do enter the market for consumer purchase.
3.) Our third prediction was that Facebook would relieve itself of it’s news section in order to protect it’s reputation against accusations of fake news. With this prediction, we have our first strike out. Facebook doubled down on being a source of the news, and the accusations of fake news, and the perpetuation of fake news, weather real or perceived, have only grown louder and more prominent as 2018 has worn on. Efforts to curb fake news have led to accusations of censorship, and congress has involved itself in investigating and threatening to break up facebook under anti-trust laws. As a consequence, Facebook’s bottom line has started to suffer, and it’s reputation has started to suffer. That’s not saying that Facebook itself is 100% at fault. In fact, Facebook tries really hard to prevent fake news across it’s platform, but it’s a casualty of a hyper-partisan political climate where any news that politicians disagree with is deemed to be fake news by there base, and the same politicos are spreading fake news in order to gain votes and stick it to their opponents. Based on the results of the next week’s American midterm elections, expect facebook to get a lot of more attention as the losers absorb their losses and 2019 gears America towards the 2020 presidential election cycle. Unfortunately for Facebook, this is an existential issue for their brand that will not be easily fixed anytime soon.
4.) Our fourth prediction was that 2018 would see the rollout of new operating systems for both Mac and Windows based on the average lifecycle of their UI’s. We were half right. Apple released MacOS Mojave at the end of September (about a month ago). To be frank, there’s nothing revolutionary about Mojave, the differences from High Sierra are relatively minor, with a couple of new features that are kind of cool, like the purely cosmetic Dark Mode and the organizing aid Stacks, but nothing that we would necessarily declare game changing. It’s basically just an updated, patched and reskinned version of High Sierra. Still, at least Apple has came out with a new OS, Microsoft is still pushing the latest laptops out with Windows 10. 4 years is a long time with one OS, particularly an OS plagued by terribly designed patches and updates. Despite rumors of a change to their historical trend of 3 year cycles and numeric releases, we are still running our Surface Pro on Windows 10. This is another prediction we swung and missed on, since Mojave wasn’t really a very exciting release, and Windows is playing catchup.
5.) Our fifth prediction was that sales in traditional PCs and Laptops would decline as the popularity of tablet and smart phone technology progressed and claimed a larger share of the consumer market. The record so far has been mixed, they’ve either went up or went down depending on the source you’re reading. What is clear is that tablet sales, like the iPad, are far outstripping laptop sales thus far. That being said, it’s only the beginning of November, and any data would be incomplete without accounting for the all important Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales and holiday shopping season. Consequently, we are going to declare it to early to tell how accurate we were with this prediction.
6.) Our sixth prediction was that the cryptocurrency markets were going to have a ‘banner year’, either by growing to new heights, crashing incredibly into the ground, or upending the money markets in one way or another. Thus far, none of these predictions really materialized. There was a big bump for bitcoin early in the year, but the markets have since stabilized, and it’s been rather muted in the media. Occasional jumps and falls have mirrored other markets, like the stock market, and have proven to be a rather resilient alternative when the stock market hits a bear trend. The Wall Street suits have come to terms with how to incorporate cryptocurrencies into overall portfolio’s, and it’s starting to seem like a further tool one can use to diversify ones overall portfolio (and diversified portfolios are always a good thing). At the end of the day, we swung and missed on this one. Granted, there’s still two months in the year, so things can change rather rapidly when dealing with the markets, but it seems like 2018 has been a fortifying year for cryptocurrencies as they mature into a more stable addition to the money markets.
7.) Our seventh prediction was that growing global instability and political turns towards nationalism and suspicion would lead to a proliferation of cyberattacks and malicious hackings. While there has been numerous data breaches so far in 2018, and alleged cyber attacks against various electoral systems, it seems that the increased scrutiny and awareness raised by the really torrid and volatile pace of high profile cyber attacks in 2017 has raised awareness and investments for better practices, vigilant proactiveness, and updated security, leading to a lower proliferation rate of successful attacks. That’s not to say that the rate of attempted cyberattacks has declined, just that we as a society have become better at catching and preventing them, reducing their success rate. Swing and a miss on this prediction.
8.) Our eighth prediction was that the Empire of the Mouse would launch it’s long rumored video streaming service, further saturating the market in a bid to directly compete with Netflix. Well, we were a tad rushed on this prediction, as it’s now tentatively scheduled for a 2019 release, with Disney’s catalogue leaving Netflix at the end of this year. This will be a big blow for Netflix, since Disney’s catalogue includes the incredibly popular Star Wars and Marvel franchises, as well as many other popular franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, and their trade mark Animated Classics and Pixar series. While normal convention would argue that competition is good for the consumer, with streaming services, the opposite holds true. Each service has a monthly subscription rate, and the more services there are, the less centralized and more fragmented the finite quantity of catalogues of movies and shows becomes, meaning you have to buy 3-4 more subscriptions to different competing services to get the same number of movies and shows you used to only get with one Netflix subscription 5-6 years ago, straining your wallet. On the flip side, the lower quantities of popular films and shows available due to competition has forced these streaming services to adapt, leading to a proliferation of original content, and some mighty great programming funded by and exclusive to Netflix, or Hulu, or Prime, etc. This year in particular has been a banner year for quality original content on these streaming services, exemplified by Netflix dethroning HBO from it’s long held perch as the Emmy nomination king. So while Disney has not launched it’s service in 2018, they have been actively laying the groundwork and infrastructure for their new streaming service. There is debate and evidence that the costs to consumers of yet another streaming service is offset by the market pressure creating a breadth of high quality and beneficial original programming. For all intents and purposes of our prediction, we battled in the batters box here for a good while before foul-tipping our way out.
9.) Our ninth prediction was that companies and brands from the Peoples Republic of China would start pushing for market shares in Western economies, with mixed success amidst cultural misunderstanding, but laying the ground work for more stable progress down the road. Well, we failed to take into account our favorite quote. The great Albert Einstein once said “I know of only two things that are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, but I’m not so sure about the former”. In a bid to test Einstein’s Theory of Human Stupidity, the fearless leaders of China and the United States, the world’s two largest and intricately intertwined economies, failed to check their ego’s at the door and decided to launch a trade war against each other, replete with tit-for-tat tariffs, ensuring a scenario where nobody can possibly come out a winner. The United States economy relies heavily on China, and China’s economy relies heavily on the United States. As global nationalism rises and China’s rapid growth has fueled it’s economy to the verge of eclipsing the United States as the world’s largest, reactionaries in both countries have risen to the fore of policy making. Let’s take a logical three point argument about why this is a mistake (through our lens as an American blog). First off, for the vast majority of human history, with the exception of the last 150 years, the title of “Largest Economy in the World” has passed back and forth between China and India, which, between those two countries, is home to literally half of the world’s population. However, since 1870 the United States has encroached upon Asia’s dominance in that title bout, and if our leaders thought with their heads instead of their emotions they would realize that China has a significantly larger population than America. This brings us to our second point: there’s over a billion MORE Chinese than there are Americans, with over 4 Chinese citizens for every 1 American citizen, and our economies are just about par in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is the value of all goods and services produced by an economy. Economic size and GDP is partially dependent on a population of workers and consumers; the fact that there are so many more people in China than in the United States means it’s only natural that their economy would be larger than ours, and here’s the fun fact, the true indicator of economic success and strength in the logical mind would be the GDP per capita, or GDP divided by population. This determines a rough estimate of how much economic activity is produced by 1 person in your economy. The United States is way above and beyond China in this category. The USA’s GDP per Capita is $60,000, compared to roughly $6,000 GDP per Capita in China. We are doing just fine if we need something to hang our hats on. Lastly, if the leaders of the United States truly believe that they MUST be the largest economy in the world to not be a failure (which is utter nonsense), all they really would need to do is hold the line and keep on keeping on. Our economy is growing at a healthy and sustainable pace, and most indications predict that we will continue to grow long term with the occasional recession mixed in. That is in large part fueled by our demographics. America is younger and incredibly resilient to aging declines compared to elsewhere in the developed world thanks to our heritage and continued status as a nation of immigrants, and our fertility rates which, while declining, are the third highest amongst developed nations (after Israel and Mexico), and well above replacement levels even without immigration. China, on the other hand, is in a race against the clock as it’s economy is starting to show the effects of a graying population and growing retirement class relative to the population at large. Furthermore, years of One-Child policies have reduced the size of younger generations, who won’t be able to support a graying population or stay above replacement fertility levels as China’s population enters a period of rapid aging and decline. If the United States was truly worried about being eclipsed, then all they would need to do would be to just chill out and wait, as they will inevitably regain the top spot sooner or later. However, by fueling a trade war, the ‘Einsteins’ on top of the economies of America and China have unnecessarily induced harm to what were two relatively healthy economies, and put barriers to mutually beneficial trade between their respective businesses, thus having rendered our New Years prediction a whopping swing and miss with the bat flying into the stands.
10.) Our final prediction was that there would be further scandal amongst the tech industry as the MeToo movement and advocacy for greater diversity and equality would brush up against the patriarchy and those who traditionally held power. Unfortunately with this prediction, we pretty much hit the nail on the head. We really wanted to be wrong with this, yet barely a week goes by without another story of sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, homophobia, agism, or any other -ism’s cropping up in tech news sites. Brushback from resurgent right wing populism has only fueled this conflict, and sadly, it doesn’t seem there will be any abatement in the rate that these conflicting forces butt against each other. Political partisanship and national discourse is not helping matters here, and it’d be safe to say that this prediction would be sadly as accurate for 2019 as it has been in 2018. We wish that people would remember the golden rule, because if we all did, this would not be an issue.
So, of our 10 predictions for 2018, we here at burgerfried.com were 3-6-1 (which is still better than the Browns!) While by no means possessing a crystal ball, we’ll go end on a tidbit the sagely old timers like say: ‘If you are hitting 3 out of 10, you are going to the hall of fame‘. Consequently, we’ll take it as a rather accurate series of predictions for the year. Look out for our 2019 predictions closer to New Years.