From Edward Snowden’s call to protect our own privacy, to the iCloud leak which caused a Hollywood scandal, to the on-going ramifications of the Sony hack, 2014 was the year that we all became painfully aware of just how much of our lives are visible online, in the form of data. One of the key trends in the tech world as we move into 2015 is how to more effectively control our own data, and use it to make smarter decisions, be that through self-encryption or harvesting information from wearables. With that in mind, here are a few more predictions for the year ahead.
2015 could be the year of surveillance reform:
In June 2015, a key component of the United States’ Patriot Act, which supports current government surveillance, is due to expire. Google has anticipated this, and set up a special campaign on its Take Action platform to “protect Americans from mass surveillance” and “make the internet more secure for everyone.”
Wearables while you work:
While the health and fitness industry was the first to adopt wearable tech in a significant way, and is forecasted to be the dominant wearables segment until 2018, other sectors are finally getting in on the act. As we predicted back in June, more and more workplaces are discovering the benefits of wearable tech when it comes to harnessing personal data. “With the pending debut of the Apple Watch, predicted to come to market in early 2015, wearables in the workplace are about to become ubiquitous,” says Chris Bruce, MD of Thomson Online Benefits, “particularly at large tech companies that are known for innovation and change.”
IPOs to watch out for:
Shared economy start-ups Uber and Airbnb are hotly predicted to go public in 2015, as are Snapchat and Pinterest. Uber is currently valued the highest, at $40 billion, although it has faced an onslaught of public image problems in recent months. According to Mashable, media outlet Vice, domain registration company GoDaddy and luxury service Net-A-Porter all have the potential to go public in the next year.
Facebook will go from strength to strength (what a surprise):
Perhaps rather predictably, 2015 looks set to be a big year for Facebook. So big, in fact, that it has doubled the length of its annual F8 conference next March. “Facebook’s developer community is bigger today than it ever has been,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “The scope of the company’s products has broadened, and there’s more content to share than can fit into a single day. The additional day means double the number of technical sessions, product demos, and on-site experiences for Facebook’s growing developer community.” Rounding off a year that included the multi-billion dollar acquisitions of virtual reality company Oculus Rift and messaging app WhatsApp, Facebook has a pretty full box of toys to play with in 2015.
Valleywag to rebrand, sort of:
Gawker’s tech site Valleywag has always toed the line between reporting on Silicon Valley news and slinging tabloid mud. Following the departure of Sam Biddle and Natasha Tiku, Dan Lyons has taken the helm as editor of Valleywag, signifying a potential shift towards less tawdry linkbait tactics. “If I had my druthers, I’d write about AI, and supercomputers, and fusion energy,” says Lyons. “I don’t really care about who’s fucking whom.”
Android One’s Asian expansion will continue:
This year saw the announcement by Google that it intended to make affordable smartphones more easily available in emerging economies. Having piloted the Android One initiative in India, Google will be rolling this out across surrounding nations Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal over the coming weeks, with plans to include more countries in early 2015.
And BlackBerry trundles on uphill:
Will BlackBerry soldier on in 2015, or finally give up the ghost? Who knows. The perpetually troubled firm unveiled its Classic handset this month, offering up great QWERTY functionality to a customer base who are all about touchscreens. Even repeated proclamations by Kim Kardashian that she loves her BlackBerry have failed to help the brand reclaim its widespread popularity. But business consumers are still fair game, as John Biggs points out; “let us not forget the scores of professionals with a BlackBerry for work email and an iPhone for play, a sort of technological mullet.”