Here are five ways you can expect technology to change over the next 12 months – and how that may impact your business.
1. 5G Goes Mainstream
2020 is the year 5G will surface in our day-to-day lives. The new technology, which can manage data connection speeds as much as a hundred times faster than 4G networks, is already present in a few areas but coverage is spotty and 5G devices are bulky and expensive.
Whether 5G will become mainstream in 2020 is debatable, but it will become far more common. Qualcomm’s new X55 5G modem is backward-compatible, which makes it more attractive for phone manufacturers, and its Snapdragon 765 chip comes with 5G connectivity built-in. Apple is rumored to be releasing a 5G iPhone in 2020.
A faster Internet doesn’t sound revolutionary but it’s what will power the Internet of Things. It will be used to keep autonomous cars on the road and allow drones to fly in swarms. If your product can benefit from a constant connection, you should be thinking about what 5G can do for you.
2. Extended Reality Goes Wider
Virtual reality has always been a technology waiting for the right application. It might be fun to roam around a 360-degree digital world but wearing goggles to do it has always felt strange.
Some firms have been taking a step back and focusing on augmented reality. In early 2019, AR commerce firm Wannaby teamed up with footwear company Kicks to enable customers to try on shoes even before they reach the store. Users can turn on their iPhone’s camera, point the lens at their feet, then choose a pair of trainers from the app’s catalog. The shoes appear right in front of them. Ikea has rolled out a similar service called Ikea Place that lets users try placing furniture in their homes before they buy.
Some of these early rollouts have run into trouble. Ikea Place remains very buggy. But as those glitches are worked out, expect more companies to make use of extended reality this year. If you’re in retail, you should be thinking about how you can help customers try digitally before they buy.
3. Video Games Get Bigger and Better
This is also the year we get a new Xbox and a new Playstation. That’s like Christmas coming all at once… which is about when we can expect those new devices to hit the stores. It’s that late arrival that matters.
The video game industry is now worth more than $120 billion which makes it big enough to have a real effect on popular culture. When Fortnite took off, the game’s characters and logo appeared on hoodies, lunchboxes and t-shirts as well as on bedside lamps and travel mugs.
With new video consoles not scheduled until the end of 2020, retailers should expect a slow decline in console, merchandise, and game sales throughout the year but prepare for a burst of new activity as new games and devices hit the stores in time for Christmas.
4. China’s Social Media Is Coming
The big social media story of 2019 was the arrival of TikTok. Parent company ByteDance might have bought Musical.ly, the application on which TikTok was built, in 2017 but the app exploded last year. In the first quarter of 2019, TikTok became the most downloaded app in Apple’s App Store, generating 33 million downloads in three months alone. The app even beat YouTube, Instagram, and WhatsApp. It now has more than 500 million active users.
Bytedance is a Chinese firm, and Chinese companies have been pushing the boundaries of social media to a much greater extent than Facebook or Twitter. China’s Internet users don’t just use WeChat to swap selfies and share status updates. They also pay their bills, follow their favorite brands, and pay for products. Each WeChat account comes with a unique bar code that even small corner stores can scan to take payments. Until now, that social media world has stayed in China.
Now that TikTok has shown Chinese firms a way into the American market, expect other companies to make their own inroads. Local social media companies are going to have move fast to keep up, and smaller firms will need to go with them.
5. The Blockchain Runs the Supply Chain
Finally, we didn’t hear as much about Bitcoin in 2019 as we did the previous year but while cryptocurrency has been relatively quiet, big firms have been happily experimenting with the blockchain behind the scenes. Oracle, Tencent, Ford and Maersk have all been running tests with the digital ledger last year. Expect those experiments to continue and for some of those tests to generate positive results.
We might not see the blockchain in use but as its value in automating supply chains become clearer, deliveries should grow faster, cheaper, and more secure. That’s good news for retailers everywhere.
About Joel Comm
As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products, and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.
Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.
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