But I think Fred's largely right that Mobile was the last Next Thing - though strictly speaking its not "Mobile" now per se, but PC level processing power meeting Moore's Law and shrinking in size and price so it can be easily portable, with a damn good UI (think iPaq then iPhone). These "Smart" phones and "tablets" killed good old Planet Mobile dead in about 3 years (Motorola, Nokia, Blackberry - where are they now? They were earth shaking giants a few short years ago!)
Anyway, where is the Next Big Thing to be found is the question Fred asks. The future is of course here, just unevenly spread, so the trick is to see what bits of the future are here, now - and actually are going somewhere. Ten things that have changed exponentially in the "networked technology" areas we follow, in the time we've been writing Broadstuff (est 2006) are:
- Robotics (including the flying type)
- Data generation, usage and cost of processing it (aka "Big Data" - but I think the mpact will be felt indirectly - see this video by Phili Evans of BCG
- Penetration and usage of very cheap personal comms....
- .....especially those that are "Things"...
- ....and used to scrape data about "marketing value units" (aka people)
- WiFi Connectivity is increasingly ubiquitous, and whenever a powerful new comms system does that, big changes follow
- Smaller and smaller machine tools (including the over-hyped "3D Printer" but also a whole host of CNC tools)
- Games have moved from PCs to every device, and some games aren't really games any more as the principles move into other areas
- All manners of virtual/augmented reality devices (if Google Glasses don't make them irredeemably uncool)
- "Open" (ie other people's involuntarily exposed) Data - but sadly this will, in my opinion, probably be massively abused and then clamped down again, but its a short term shooting star.
As you can see, these are hardly New New Things, just things that were already here in 2006 and even then clearly had high potential. What's interesting is that they were all already on very predictable development vectors in 2006, but no one looked at them as killer technologies in those days. That was because at that time, their rate of development was still mainly all theoretical, and not provably valuable. To compare, here are 10 other things that were also floating around in 2006/7 that I thought also could happen sooner and haven't yet, but still may as they are all Big Next Next Things potentially.
- Widespread revolt against privacy-invasive free business models (it's starting now though)
- Modular hardware (Fred may recall Bug Labs from 2007)
- Open & portable social networks.
- "New" Search technologies (of which many have been tried over the last few years, a New New search hope appears every 2 years or so)
- Low cost and easy organisation of unstructured data
- Self learning software sorting out my media consumption, inbox and schedule (preferably materialising as a cross-media avatar with Marlene Dietrich's voice)
- VRM (Consumer to Business commercial tools)
- Effective voice recognition (the acid test - can it understand the Scottish accent...)
- And on that note, a near-real time "Babelfish" online service (to translate Scottish to English....)
- Various self-learning Algorithms that could predict things like the stock market, drive cars, etc etc
These are all here today, unevenly distributed, and still chugging along - but at slower rates than the various laws of networking, learning, Moores et al would predict. Typically there is a something in them that is missing, obstinately sticking at current capability or economically unavailable, awaiting the "key" to their leap over the Chasm. But all it takes is a small shift (think iPaq vs iPhone again) and over they go.
All you have to do to build your own mind-boggling portfolio of New Next Things To Watch is read the various Gartner Hype Curves for the last 10 years, and you will see a slew of things on the hot S curve one year and disappearing 2-3 years later. They don't go away though, and are still evolving in the Darwinian mud of technology species, it's just that something hasn't yet quite worked out for them yet. And somewhere in that stew already, are the next 10 New New Things.
It was no great surprise to us that the makers of Candy Crush, King Digital Entertainment Plc , had a less than illustrious IPO
. As we wrote in February
, it was high time to run for the IPO gate before it closed on them, and they have. Good luck to them, they now have $500m in the bank now, a useful cushion against the slings and arrows of outrageous future misfortune. The c £8.5bn valuation (now c $7bn) will not be quite so easy to live with, I suspect.
But nothing changes our analysis since February, this stock is a still very high risk punt, and sold at Bubbletime prices to Bubble-minded investors to boot.
Who needs Google Glass with these goggles...
Facebook has bought a tiny Virtual Reality company with a near-virtual product for $2bn (mainly stock) - Grauniad
Facebook has bought the virtual reality technology firm Oculus VR for $2bn [£1.2bn], it announced on Tuesday. In a surprise revelation, the social networking company said it had paid $400m in cash and the rest in more than 23m shares, currently worth $1.6bn [£970m], plus an additional $300m pegged to future performance.
A detailed company statement said that Facebook recognised how Oculus had built a solid following among game developers with 75,000 pre-orders for its virtual reality headset, but that virtual reality technology would expand to other industries from communications and entertainment to education and media.
Kudos to Oculus, it started as a kickstarter project 2 years ago and has taken some serious funding. And actually, its likely that goggles or glasses of some sort will be the view-screen of choice at some point. This is clearly where Facebook see it going, as Mark Zuckerberg notes:
After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home.
This does point to a rather interesting tussle between Google Glasses and Facebook Goggles for nerdiest eyewear, and it also points to a new tussle for video screenware device-as-portal. But this is very early days for a virtual product for virtual reality, to go for for $2bn. Still, its all virtual money and it all works out in the Bubbletime.
Can't wait for the iGlass now.....you just know its coming.
Today is the 25th "birthday of the Web"
, although strictly speaking that was the first proposal submitted, a memetic sperm if you like. The actual thing only came out in any recognisable form about 4 years later in 1991. For me it arrived 5 years after it's birth.
It was summer 1994, the day I downloaded the newly released NCSA Mosaic software on Windows (It was already out on UNIX, but I didn't have a UNIX tin anymore). Suddenly, all that stuff I'd been doing before was easy (FTP
et al). The thing about Mosaic was it was easy to use, put graphics where you actually wanted them and - most importantly - didn't crash! ("Browsing" had been around in buggy pieces of software - Cello anyone - before that, but Mosaic lit the spark - and sealed CompuServe and AOL's doom).
The rest, as they say, is history.
Anyway, with a sad (but quick) wave goodbye to Archie and Veronica, and grabbing my trusty basic guide to HTML, I started writing my first website.
Today of course you can knock out a whole web experience in the time it took to write one page then, but what the hell, that was web hacking early 90's style.
were pre-Web search engines for FTP and Gopher respectively)
Kudos Gangstersout blog
Two pieces of news in quick succession - Friday, drones are cleared for use commecially in the US* - Pando Daily
Drones might soon be coming to a neighborhood near you. A federal judge has ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration has not explicitly outlawed the unmanned aerial vehicles. This will allow all number of businesses, from beer distributors to photography companies, to operate their drones without running afoul of the law.
The ruling was made in favor of Raphael Pirker, a drone pilot fined by the FAA for “operating a drone recklessly while filming at the University of Virginia,” according to Politico. Though the FAA could issue an emergency rule to ban commercial drones or appeal the ruling, the case will allow drone operators to fly their vehicles below 400 feet, at least for now.
And then today: news in that two major US legal practices, LeClairRyan and McKenna Long, have set up Drone case chasing groups. - Washington Post
LeClairRyan’s drone group, based in Annapolis, is led by Tim Adelman and Doug McQueen, a flight instructor and United Airlines pilot, respectively, in addition to being aviation attorneys. McKenna Long’s practice is headed by Mark Dombroff, a partner in the firm’s McLean office and a former in-house lawyer at the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We want to help [companies] shape rulemaking and get a seat at the table, then actually operate in a world they had a hand in creating,” Dombroff said.
There are thousands of companies building drones and trying to market and sell them, but they are running into hurdles because the federal government has yet to create regulations to govern them, Adelman said.
What a marvellous world......still, as the picture above shows, the hunting season could be prolonged all year
*Update: The FAA have appealed, which means the drones don't fly until its settled, and there will be lots of lawyers droning on about drones
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