The rise of crypto-currencies
The world’s first ever Bitcoin ATM opened for business in Vancouver in November 2013, trading over $100,000 CAD in its first week. “We’ve had lineups all day every day,” said Mitchell Demeter, co-founder of Bitcoiniacs. “We knew people would be excited and interested.” Bitcoin has been steadily misunderstood and ignored up until now, but is finally gaining some real-world traction.
Alex Hern points out that due to the open source nature of the software behind Bitcoin, anyone can potentially create their own altcoins, such as Litecoin, or the meme-inspired Dogecoin. Solid predictions on crypto-currencies are difficult to come by, but the fact that Bitcoin is the subject of an on-going, increasingly active conversation is worth noting.
Smartphones to penetrate emerging markets
Smartphone sales in the Asia-Pacific region are booming right now, especially in China, where an estimated 230 million handsets will be purchased in 2014. Smartphone penetration in India is also expected to increase significantly in 2014, as more and more consumers get their hands on their first smartphone. Android is currently the most popular choice in China, while the embattled Nokia brand is going strong in India – good news for new parent company Microsoft.
Two products that launched in 2013 which speak to a consideration of consumer budgets were the iPhone 5c, Apple’s inexpensive plastic alternative to the iPhone 5s, and Tesco’s Hudl tablet, which retailed at just £119. Judging from the healthy sales of these products at the lower end of the cost spectrum, we can expect to see more budget devices hit the market in 2014.
Will wearable tech go mainstream?
Wearable tech has been big news for the last year or so, but has consistently failed the “dorkiness” test, in that it very rarely looks like something consumers would actually want to wear. As more developments are made in smart garments (clothes with technology actually woven into the fibres), it becomes increasingly probable that health and fitness brands will be releasing sportswear that doubles as a personal trainer.
And will Google Glass ever resolve its image problems?
And speaking of wearable tech, the never-ending saga of Google Glass looks set to continue in 2014, as its app store opens to the public. According to Jemima Kiss, we can expect Google to work extra hard to “make consumers feel comfortable with the concept of pervasive image and video recording, challenging and shifting the norm of what is socially acceptable.”