Every year I try to predict what lies for the year ahead, and then I mark them a year later! It’s a particularly difficult timeframe because a year is reasonably short term in technology, but we’re lucky to work in such a fast paced industry.
1. 3D, rather than the metaverse
There are times when the current user experience for the web is adequate. For example, filling in a form. There’s little wrong with the fields appearing in our web browser and us typing in the answers.
There are other situations where it would be preferable to have a 3D environment. For example, when buying physical products online. Imagine if we were in a 3D experience where we could see adjacent items, or interact with them, or compare different types of the item together. The current page-based, 2D experience for shopping is a little too flat compared to our real world.
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, believes that the future of these 3D environments will be using a headset to see an AR (Augmented Reality) or VR (Virtual Reality) world, a bit like SecondLife. Personally, I think that’s several years ahead of us for most people. There are good enough 3D environments that can be ported from video games into day-to-day internet activities though.
With the rise of collaboration and messaging tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, these 3D environments make perfect sense.
So, by the end of 2022 we’ll have some 3D shopping experiences for mainstream brands, and probably still in a Chrome or Safari web browser.
2. The hybrid working challenges
In 2022 we are going to have to work out how to balance people commuting and working in the office and working from home. We are going to have to work out how to make neither of these groups feel left out during a combined meeting.
I also believe we’ll start having shorter remote video calls. Pre-covid, a conversation to ask a question might take a few minutes. Now we schedule half an hour in the diary, only because that’s the minimum time slot in Outlook.
3. UK to reach 50 “Just walk out” stores
Just walk out stores such as Amazon Fresh and Tesco GetGo use lots of technology on the shelf and the ceiling to track customers around their shop. They recognise when a customer picks up an item and when the customer leaves the shop, they are charged for all their items without needing to go to a checkout.
It’s unlikely retailers will retrofit existing stores with enough cameras and technology to convert them into checkout-less stores. We will see more of the smaller high street units being converted, or new ones being fitted with the technology.
There are currently 6 Amazon Fresh stores in the UK, and one Tesco GetGo (there’s another one just for staff which I’m not including). By the end of 2022 we’ll see over 50 checkout-less stores across various retailers.
4. At least one of the major DSLR manufacturers to stop selling their cameras
I’m a keen photographer and despite having a latest generation phone, I still use a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses. I like the single, focused (pun intended) use of a camera. There’s no distraction from alerts or other apps when I use my camera. I also enjoy editing the RAW file afterwards, which isn’t possible on smartphones yet.
A few years ago, the camera industry created a new segment call mirrorless. Mirrors were required in the old camera film days but weren’t as necessary in the digital era. It was a good marketing initiative from the major manufacturers to encourage people to upgrade their digital cameras.
Camera sales have been falling steadily as a direct impact of smartphones being more convenient and for most people, higher quality than cameras. Camera sales did enjoy a little uplift during Covid, where people have been using cash to buy all sorts of luxury items including cameras but this is likely to be temporary.
By the end of 2022 we’ll see at least one of the major camera manufacturers stop producing their cameras.
5. Xbox: The Netflix of gaming
2022 will see Microsoft’s Xbox brand lead the way into cloud gaming. Expect to see them launch an Xbox stick that will plug into a TV in the same way that an Amazon Fire stick does for movies. Xbox already has a variety of subscription services (as do many of the individual games), and these will be consolidated and simplified. (I subscribe to them and still don’t understand them).
The Xbox stick itself will probably be very cheap, possibly even at a loss, because Microsoft will gain the profit back via game controllers and Xbox subscriptions. Microsoft will want to maximise their sales and distribution without people worrying about the cost of the hardware.
It’s also worth remembering that Xbox still has their premium video service, Microsoft Films, which could end up being a competitor to Apple TV and Netflix. Microsoft will focus more on its wealth of gaming studios and titles as the jewel in the crown, rather than video.
5. Windows 11 & Teams
This time next year many of us will be using Windows 11. Whilst Microsoft Teams is still an installable app in Windows 11, expect this will rapidly become part of the core Windows 11 experience.
This is the first time I’ve rolled over a prediction from one year to the next. Teams is such a core part of Microsoft corporate-customer strategy that chat and other communication will become part of the operating system. Microsoft tried it before with Skype, but Covid and our remote working environments mean the right time has arrived.
A bonus point if WhatsApp and Teams can become integrated!
6. Moon 2.0.
2022 will be a significant year for space exploration. Several countries are aiming to land on the moon including Russia, UAE, US and Japan. Expect them all to say they are the first ones to do so.
There will also be missions to Mars, asteroids and for the general public, more options to go higher than in 2021.
Here in the UK, we’ll launch the first British space mission from the UK.
It all sounds exciting, and we’ll see the global private space industry flourish.
7. The first $100BN quarter for cloud computing
According to various research reports, cloud adoption ranges from only 41% of SMBs (Small and Medium Businesses) to only 50% of US government organisations to 94% of enterprises. There is still a huge amount of growth remaining in the IT cloud market.
When we factor in some organisations will design a multi-cloud design, the industry growth only increases.
By the end of 2022 we’ll see the three biggest cloud providers (AWS, Azure and Google) posting a combined quarterly cloud revenue of over $100BN. For context, in IBM’s 2000 annual report they claimed to be one of the biggest hosting companies in the world and had a total services revenue of $28 billion. The entire IT industry was predicted to grow to $470 billion by 2003.