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Soundbyte 170: Something from Nothing

1 December 2014

The end of the year is approaching, which means it’s time to look back and, more importantly, ahead. Earlier this month, the Foo Fighters released their 8th studio album called ‘Sonic Highways’. At the same time, a documentary aired with the same name, where the band visits different cities and explores their music cultures that influenced the various songs on the album (well worth watching and not too hard to find 😉 ). The first song from this album, ‘Something from nothing’, was written and influenced by Chicago and its blues background. Looking back at the history of these sound bytes, which used to be called blue notes and the way we built Luminis “from nothing” this song is definitely appropriate!

Looking back at 2014

A year ago, I made the following predictions. Let’s go over them and evaluate what became of them.

Privacy and security will be one of the major themes for 2014. Last year showed us that our ‘secure’ protocols are not that secure. This means we probably have to review how we deal with security from the ground up and with the amount of infiltration that has been going on in the current internet, maybe it is time to look at this as an opportunity to start ‘internet 2.0’.

We can safely say this was indeed one of the major themes for 2014 and probably the next decade, and it is not only hackers and criminals that made this into a hot topic. The NSA, by deliberately inserting a backdoor in a NIST standard for encryption has shown that it tries to monitor the internet on a global scale without any regard for privacy. A week ago, details were published about ‘Regin’, a very complex computer virus that was designed to systematically spy on a range of international targets. Closer to home, heated discussions show that the public is becoming more aware of security and privacy issues, for example in a recent debate about Basispoort, a program that keeps track of grades for children in primary schools.

The battle for the TV screen will intensify. However, I see no large breakthroughs or big winners. It is traditionally one of the hardest markets, partitioned and monopolized by big players that have no interest in innovating. However, with this many companies interested in this market, something will eventually happen here and we will probably see the first signs next year. Netflix, Playstation, Apple TV, Google TV, XBox, take your pick!

From a consumer point of view, no big changes happened in this market. Netflix is establishing itself in more and more countries, which also shows how fragmented this market still is, with companies having to make deals in every single country. The latest generation of consoles seems to focus less and less on media and more on their core business: gaming, where they do introduce video streaming of games, which strengthens the e-sports market. Google and Apple did little to impress. Maybe the biggest hit is the Chomecast, because it is cheap, simple and does a good job streaming all kinds of video.

Wearables will continue to come to market. We’ve seen prototypes of Google Glass and various ‘smart watches’ (notably the Pebble but there have been others as well). A lot of people are still waiting for Apple’s offer in this market, and I predict they will do well there because of their focus on design and watches being mainly fashion statements.

This has definitely been an area with many interesting new developments. Google Glass remains a highly controversial technology, and the more VR oriented Oculus Rift is definitely technology that is capturing the imagination of many computer users and facebook, who bought the company for 2 billion dollars! In the mean time, both square and round watches have been released based on Android Wear. Apple has announced, but not released its watch and it looks like they are really targeting the high end market as well with their 18-karat gold watch, which is rumoured to cost around $5000.

Predictions for 2015

Looking back is one thing, the fun part is trying to predict what will happen next year:

  • We will see considerable activity in the car market, with the release of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay becoming available for more and more cars and as after market hardware. We might even see some manufacturers try to come up with heads-up displays.
  • Driven by privacy concerns, there will be an increased focus on private clouds and the decentralisation of data. This does not mean public clouds will be used less, but that the way we use them will change. They will be considered to be ‘hostile’ environments more and more, requiring additional layers of protection.
  • The war for talent will continue to grow stronger. This means that we will need to change the way we attract and keep our talents by both broadening our horizons and getting in touch with people in different ways. Our succes in 2015 will be defined by our capability to do that.

Have a great week!

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