Notes for the summer: now and next

What happened

Mobile became the dominant computing platform, both for consumer internet and for the tech hardware ecosystem.

Apple & Google both won the shift, in different ways (& Microsoft lost).

The internet moved on from web browser + mouse + keyboard.

Search & social changed & Google/Facebook went from total to contingent hegemony.

Google & Facebook made the jump - others did not.


What's happening now

Mobile exploded the desktop 'browser + mouse + keyboard' model but hasn't settled on a new one.

Basic discovery & engagement techniques on desktop break on mobile and do not have complete replacements (though they were broken in different ways on the desktop too).

Systemic instability & rapid innovation in pursuit of a third run-time (after web & apps), hopefully with new search or discovery models built in.

As part of this, Apple & Google are trying to move interaction down the stack from apps, Google & Facebook trying to move it up the stack too.

Smartphone supply chain enables many new devices, many of which are also end-points for some of these interaction models (eg Echo, Google Home).

TV starts unbundling, following music, print media, driven by (again) devices powered by the smartphone ecosystem. But very different motivations for APple, Google & Amazon (ecosystem lever) versus Netflix (new global 'cable' channel).

Enterprise productivity still bridging from old to new ecosystem - moving from files & desktop apps to cloud and device-agnostic front-ends. In parallel, unbundling tasks from general-purpose apps (I.e. Office) to cloud-based specialized apps. Increasing attempts to roll AI/ ML into this to automate many tasks or give new tools.

AI techniques emerging from labs and the last AI winter to suggest new capabilities and interaction models.

'AI' as the buzzword for everything, understood or not.


What happens next

AI becomes both an enabling layer for new and existing services (analogy: location, imaging) and basis of new interaction layers (NLP, Echo, Assistant), and potentially creating a new center of interaction that's out of Apple's comfort zone.

Ecommerce breaks through~10% of (US) retail, subsuming more and more categories that are less good fits for the historic commodity online merchandising model (i.e. Amazon) & supporting new approaches to discovery (& perhaps delivery - c.f. drones).

AI as a new layer for search and discovery potentially destabilizes search & discovery models, & associated advertising models.

AI + smartphone supply chain enables more and more 'not stupid' devices - drones that can follow you, learning IoT, autonomous & semi-autonomous vehicles.

VR as the new games console (a branch rather than the next generation of computing) - but potentially much larger and embracing much broader story telling. Hardware roadmap points to mass-market product several years out, most probably based (again) on the smartphone ecosystem.

The smartphone supply chain powers everything - AI lights everything up.

Augmented/mixed reality as either the new VR, or potentially the new multi-touch, and the incarnation of lots of other AI challenges - what am I seeing, how do I display this, but more importantly, what should be displayed here?

And finally: something crucially important being created right now that no-one else in tech is really thinking about right now.