Here are some trends that we’re seeing that are changing the technological landscape forever. These new trends are changing how and where we access information and are challenging the traditional powers-at-be. In short, they represent a paradigm shift in manufacturing, distribution and sales in the Information Technology sector.
The rise of the Android operating system has changed the game in mobile communications. BlackBerry, feared to be on the edge of extinction, and iPhone have a serious contender in the ring and need to up the ante to maintain pace. Java and Adobe Flash make these handsets comparable to your experience on a desktop or laptop and recent stats put Android as the OS in 24% of all smart-phones worldwide (up from 2.9% this time last year).
2. Tablet PC’s
Hello iPad, goodbye netbook? Tablets are exploding in the market as costs are going down and functionality is going up. Tablets use operating systems that frequent our smart-phones but due to the extra screen size they can accomplish more. This makes them the perfect medium between phone and laptop. Also, due to their mobile qualities, they can launch apps and often offer free software updates which allows you to keep your existing hardware and still expect incrementally improved performance and functionality. This changes manufacturing and sales in a big way –it forces some to reconsider the notion of selling you an updated piece of equipment in two years. With less of a need to ‘upgrade’ the hardware where will manufacturers make up the potential loss?
3. Augmented Reality
Word Lens is an app for iPhone that in real time strips text from the live camera view of your cell phone, translates it into another language and rematches the original text formatting. It is mind-blowing – watch the video. Augmented reality is using your smart-phone or your tablet’s camera to view the world, in real time, and search for relevant information within the images. Yelp, another app, allows you to use your camera to look for restaurants and other establishments. Just watch your screen and icons begin appearing. Augmented reality is a game-changer in how we look for information. It changes the form that our information comes in and offers it in a new, digestible format. In the future, we might be able to use this app to navigate through a large grocery store if all we’re looking for is orange juice.
4. Streaming HD Video
Remember how .mp3 music online destroyed the notion of buying a CD at Best Buy? Well, if I owned stock in Blu-ray I’d seriously reconsider my investment strategy. Go to a Blockbuster (yeah, who does that anymore, right?) and check out the stand. Blu-ray represents about 1/50th of the total store. The days of using DVDs in general may be numbered. With Netflix streaming full 1080p quality movies right to your TV who needs the actual Blu-ray disk? Consumers just need digital information on the disk. Because consumers now have the ability to stream videos to their cell phones, laptops, tablets and televisions, demand for streaming video is growing at an alarming rate. It points to a natural progression of events leading to the digitalization of most audio and video products. Cisco predicts that in two years time, videos of all kinds will account for 90% of Internet traffic. This would be a massive change in traditional distribution – it means goodbye Blockbuster (again) and Redbox.
5. Barcode Scanning
With a very simple (free) application most smart phones can now scan the barcode of just about any product in a store and see what the same product sells for elsewhere. It’s got retailers running scared. The days of special pricing on your website are over. And this single app is literally resulting (or will result in) sweeping change in marketing, distribution and sales. Stores will be forced to reconsider luring you in with a low price, limited quantity product in the hopes of you buying other higher-margin products while there. They could, potentially, have to reconsider their whole marketing budget. I mean it’s great to get you in the store but if once in the store you realize you can get next-day shipping from Amazon and save $50 – all the marketing in the world won’t convert that opportunity into a sale.