TrendReport 2017: Additional trends to expect

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Each year we post our annual list of trends and predictions, as we did in Dec. 2016. We only posted our top five trends but, as usual, we actually identified many more. We recently added a new one about boycotts, with the twist being the boycotts were conducted by big brands not by consumers against those brands.

But each year, we typically identify more than a dozen trends, and we felt we should post the rest of these here (actually, we meant to post them a couple of weeks ago but have been busy).

Here are the rest of the trends we think will have an impact in 2017.

1.    2017 will be a tough year for traditional media. Financial sustainability used to be print media’s primary challenge. Not anymore. While still an issue, it has been replaced by the ascent of fake news, which has attacked traditional media’s most important value: credibility. In the last three months of the campaign, according to BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman, fake news stories outperformed and were shared more frequently than real news. Publishers need to figure out how to re-establish their own credibility, make facts relevant and attract readers (and revenue) who may or may not care about whether news is fake or real. We expect to see declining circulations and revenues at real news organizations, followed by more layoffs and smaller papers.
2.    Social media addiction becomes recognized as a thing. It’s not just kids who can’t put down their devices. It’s everyone. We expect more stories (spread on social media) about how to break the social media/device addiction. Here’s the problem: You can’t live without your smartphone: You don’t know anyone’s phone number without it. You can’t text them without it. Meanwhile look at all you can do with it: pay for things, shop for things, turn on and off devices in your home, much less use it to not have to interact with anyone. Taking a break from your device is healthy but impossible, and we expect more content in 2017 about this as an issue.
3.    Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality still won’t be everywhere. Many newspapers feature VR content. And the NBA is now testing VR. But we don’t think VR or AR like the faddish Pokemon Go will be ubiquitous yet in 2017. Solvable problems include VR headsets that offer an improved immersive experience than the cardboard headsets (that resemble cereal-box prizes) distributed by some newspapers so readers could access VR content or the current high-end headsets. Providing a feedback loop from user to the headset/content could be around the corner – a real corner. As with other tech, VR and AR need more content to encourage people they need to have it.
4.    Expect a cloudier 2017. Cloud computing has been a full-fledged trend for several years now. But we expect that it will evolve, to reduce the costs of cloud computing and to enhance capabilities.
5.    Artificial intelligence will continue to surge. AI become the big tech trend covered in the media in 2016. While there is overblown fear that AI-enabled robots will take over humanity, we expect to see AI built into all sorts of consumer and B2B environments – and to be featured in more Hollywood movies and TV shows.
6.    Drones still won’t take off. Consumer drones look like fun – for a couple of hours. We think the real market will be B2B, not just for deliveries (which we think is still a couple of years off). We expect B2B drones to help do things that are hard or risky for humans to do such as checking train tracks or oil pipelines in rural, hard-to-otherwise-reach locations. B2B use of drones, like B2B use of robots, will drive the market.
7.    Globalization will be a hot topic. From free trade agreements to tariffs, job losses, Brexit and the U.S.’s relationship with other countries, and the nature of globalization itself will be a very hot topic in 2017 and beyond. 

8.    Interest in voice speakers will turn up. Farhad Manjoo at the Times says gadgets are dead but there’s one area that he’s wrong: digital voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home. These two assistants/speakers are designed to be more helpful than digital assistants, and we believe this will be a big year for them, and that IoT connectivity will likely operate through them. Alexa and Home are the killer app for smart home technology in the living room, like lighting, home Wi-Fi networks, and thermostats but also may be the key to IoT in kitchen appliances.
Ongoing trends:
1.  NFL ratings will continue to decline.
2.  Drug pricing will get a lot of attention
3.  Wearable tech will still not be as mainstream as people in the industry were hoping.
4.  Progress to a driverless-car future will slow down – but not for the reason you might think. The closer we get, we will recognize that aspects of driving that we took for granted are more complicated to solve when a human is not driving. These tech issues must be solved even before we get to solving liability issues.
5.  3D printers will continue to proliferate in schools but remain unnecessary in the home.
6.   Eventually consumers will realize they can’t easily, more efficiently or more cheaply cut the cord to cable – since the bandwidth comes from the cable company. But it might not matter. People watch on many devices – but usually not on their TVs – so streaming services will continue to be popular, even if duplicating cable offerings.
7.  eBook sales will continue to plateau while traditional book sales increase slightly. (Meanwhile, sales of vinyl records will continue to climb but will remain a niche market.)
8.  e-Wallets still won’t be as widely adopted as some were projecting. They will go mainstream but not in 2017 or 2018.
This now completes the list of most of the new and ongoing trends we identified in December. We purposely did not want to add new trends that came to light as a result of changing global political realities or predictions that only would have been obvious after the fact (like Bill O’Reilly’s departure this week from Fox). 

Let us know what you think about our list — what we missed (not including political or unlikely predictions like one about O’Reilly). As always, we will issue a report card on these trends later in November.

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