Review of 2016 predictions

Time to look back on the annual predictions from 12 months ago…. how many of those crystal ball predictions came true?

1. The eyewear war

Although it looks like I'm telling someone off, I was actually moving a planet around using Hololens
Although it looks like I’m telling someone off, I was actually moving a planet around using Hololens

A year ago I predicted “in 2016 we’ll see a new three companies go eye to eye on their product offerings: Microsoft’s Hololens versus Facebook’s Oculus Rift versus Google’s Glass and Cardboard products.

Hololens turned out even better than I’d thought. I got to try out Hololens at Microsoft’s impressive Future Decoded event in November and it was superb. OK, it’s quite bulky and doesn’t have a wide view, but the experience is superb. For me, augmented reality trumps virtual reality every time.

There were more competitors in 2016 than I’d predicted. Sony launched their PlayStation VR headset in the last quarter of 2016, and HTC launched Vive in April.

Prediction rating: 9/10. 2016 was the start of the eyewear war – but sales appear to have been low

2. B2B will catch up with B2C offerings (thank goodness)

I predicted “we’ll start seeing enterprise applications with the look and feel, and overall usability, of consumer applications”.

We’re seeing demand for this across industries, as well as scalable business models that we’ve called digital for the last few years.

Software development applications, resource planning platforms and accounting systems are all becoming better looking, with mobile apps to round them off.

Prediction rating: 10/10. Yes! We’re finally using better looking applications.

3. The next episode for Netflix

This time last year I predicted Netflix would “buy a traditional broadcaster, or vice versa”. Netflix’s market cap increased over 7% to $53bn. In relative terms, Sky’s market cap fell from £18.9bn to £16.9bn in the same period. Perhaps Netflix is waiting for traditional broadcasters to become even cheaper as it continues to compete with them.

Netflix has continued producing its own content in 2016. Five out of six of its original drama series were released in the last year. Nine out of its 14 comedy titles were released in 2016. The same statistics continued through kids animations, foreign language series, docu-series, stand up comedies and other categories.

There are 32 new series due for launch in 2017 already.

There was a surprise in 2016 with Netflix releasing 12 Netflix produced films, and another six scheduled for the first half of 2017.

Netflix has succeeded with the direct to consumer, glass-to-glass model, and looks set to continue its stellar growth.

Prediction rating: 8/10. No traditional broadcaster acquisitions in 2016, but with this much original programming, it competes like one without any advertising dependency.

4. New banks in 2016 looking for customers

I said “In 2016 we’ll see a number of new banks being set up, but I doubt many people will switch to them”.

There were lots of new UK banks in 2016 (this is a regularly updated page). The prediction was their number of customers.

For as many web articles commending these new, challenger banks, there are articles criticising them and quoting the low performance of current account switching services. I couldn’t find any authoritative figures on how many account holders the challenger banks have.

Prediction rating: 8/10. Yes there have been dozens of new banks launching in the UK this year, and none of them have released any news about their one millionth customer signing up.

5. Ultra HD Blu-ray sales

UHD Blue-ray players went on sale at the end of 2016, and ranged in price from £300 upwards. What’s interesting about that price point is the latest version of Microsoft’s Xbox One console – the S version – can play UHD Blu-ray discs, and it costs £300.

Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube have some (currently read: “a little”) 4K content, usually for increased subscription costs. And you better have a decent broadband connection to squeeze that much video into your house.

Prediction raring: 5/10 I said “I reckon it will be difficult to still find them for sale by the end of 2016” – and they only went on release in November.

6. Autonomous agents will buy over $1bn of stuff for us

I said “By the end of 2016, the first $1bn of products will have been purchased for us by autonomous agents such as Siri, Cortana, Google Now or Tesla.

I missed Amazon out of that list, and by November, they had sold 5.1 million Echo devices according to researchers. In the run up to Christmas, Amazon sold out of Echo devices.

By December, Google Home allows customers to order a pizza using their Google Home device.

According to Statista, 10% of Amazon Echo users regularly add items to a shopping list using their assistants. The average annual spend for Amazon Prime customers is $1,200. Multiplying those two together gives $612m of revenue.

Prediction rating: 6/10. I said a billion dollars, and I was only 61% correct!

7. Different business models to defend against hacking

In 2016 we saw an increase in hacks, including some high profile ones such as Yahoo! which had occurred years earlier.

I predicted “we’ll see innovative business processes to reduce the risk of being hacked…. Including distributed fragmented databases – literally spreading the risk, perhaps even keeping content on smartphones rather than centralised.

I suspect we’ll see distributed databases and these business models in several years. Unfortunately we are still in the traditional mind-set of putting bigger locks on doors, but using more complex firewalls and encryption.

Prediction rating: 2/10. Many more hacks, but the same defence mind-set.

8. Social media: It will all be about live

I said “Social media in 2016 will be rejuvenated with live video content. Lots of live video.” Anyone of the billion and a half Facebook users will regularly see Live video streams in their activity feeds.

And the reason is clear – users watch Facebook Live video three times longer when it’s live than on demand. Facebook haven’t revealed how many of users’ posts are Live video, but Facebook’s corporate performance is still increasing rapidly and appears to continue through 2017.

Facebook Live’s user experience sets the gold standard for ease of use. It’s as easy as posting a message to Facebook.

Prediction rating: 8/10. Facebook’s Live feature has set the standard for live video. And news still breaks on Twitter faster than any news outlet.

9. Asta-la-vista Marissa Mayer

Which of these companies’ stock beat the others during 2016: Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Ebay, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Oracle?

The answer is Yahoo!

Despite a security breach dating back to 2013, Yahoo! still has a very, very, very loyal following.

In February, Yahoo! claimed over 600 million monthly users on mobile, more than half of its 1 billion total users, helping generate a little over $1 billion in mobile alone.

Prediction rating: 0/10. Yahoo! seems to be doing well, despite security breaches, and competitors such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google and others. Amazing.

10. Twitter to be acquired by a very large company

Photo courtesy of Anthoiny Quintano
Photo courtesy of Anthony Quintano

Last year I reported “Twitter’s share price continues to fall (over 35% in 2015) and will become an acquisition target.” In 2016 their stock fell another 28%.

In October this prediction looked spot on. Salesforce, Google, Apple and Disney all looked to be interested in purchasing Twitter. However, they all walked away and watched Twitter’s price continue to fall.

To be fair, Twitter users still continue to grow despite the financial performance indicating otherwise – mainly because the growth isn’t aggressive enough.

Prediction rating: 5/10. It looked so close, but alas, Twitter is still an independent company, today.


Summary of the 2016 predictions

That’s a total of 61 out of 100. And this is one of the more accurate years!

I’ll release the predictions for 2017 in the next fortnight.

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