8 Things That Will (Probably) Happen in 2020

New Decade, New Normal.

1. 2020 Vision

The increasing ubiquity of cameras and surveillance systems installed in the world’s cities (and used by oppressive governments and law enforcement agencies) is cause for understandable concern. 

But rather than trying to ban the use of cameras and facial recognition technologies by the police and other agencies, as San Francisco recently did, we should recognize the immense value and positive possibilities around this technology. We should instead craft meaningful and enforceable regulations that put the technology to use in the most positive ways. 

We will see more and more cameras in public and private spaces in the coming years, and more sophisticated technology behind them, that is reality. If responsible citizens and industry use these systems well, it could spearhead some fascinating and important quality of life improvements. -Gavin Fraser, CEO

2. Dude, Where’s My Data

There’s a mile-long list of reasons that our healthcare system is dysfunctional. One of the many culprits is poor data organization and sharing, a phenomenon facilitated by paper health records, industry competition, and rigid regulations. 

There are many, many benefits to fixing this. Better data sharing = More transparency and accountability. Sign me up. Better datasets also drive better research. If you’re a person with a rare disease or undertreated condition, that’s a big deal. And better data sharing would make it much easier for everyone (doctors included!) to quickly access important health records. More than just a perk when you can’t remember the last time you had a tetanus shot or have a medical emergency. 

There’s a lot of companies trying to solve this problem, including behemoths like Amazon and Google. There’s 💰and 🏆at the end of that rainbow. But to do that, they need your health and genetic data. A lot of it. For the most part, we’ve willingly given it to them… so far. I would bet that’s going to change. The hubbub around Google's Project Nightingale is (I think) the canary in the coal mine. People are starting to wake up to the good and the bad of how private corporations are using their health data. This isn’t just your Netflix data. Health information, including genetic data, is high stakes. It’s personal and usually quite private. 

I think once people start to understand what happens when they sign that consent, they’re going to care a lot. (Hot tip: Read the fine print (all of it) next time! 😉) -Caitlin Chase, Content Strategist

3. One Stream To Rule Them All

Cable TV is done. AT&T is losing a TV customer every 10 seconds. In order to survive, cable providers are quickly buying up or partnering with other media companies. AT&T, which owns DirectTV, acquired WarnerMedia in 2018. WarnerMedia consists of many well-known entertainment assets such as HBO, DC Comics, TNT, TBS, and CNN, to name a few. 

Many of these already have some sort of OTT (over-the-top) service to watch live or on-demand content, HBO Go and Now, DC Universe, etc. It seems that AT&T has recognized that there are too many streaming subscriptions and therefore announced HBO Max, which looks like it will be a one-stop-shop for all of their content.

One stream to rule them all, this is where the streaming world is headed. We’re going to see more and more acquisitions and consolidation of content until we only have a handful of services that dominate the space.

So here it is, my bold prediction for 2020 … Netflix, the catalyst of it all, will end up being acquired by someone. Netflix has been losing content left and right because of the emergence of these competing platforms that already own the rights to the content it provided us for years. In order for Netflix to survive, it’s going to have to swallow its pride and accept the fact that the original content is not enough. Its brand, and the global streaming infrastructure it built, will feed a larger fish that already has the rights to the content it’s losing. -Taylor Plimpton, Senior Developer

4. The New Normal for Streaming

Recent conversations about the streaming wars share some predictable fatigue: "It's like we're back to having cable, except it's worse." "It's too many subscriptions to keep up with." "Why does everybody use ‘Plus’ in their name, it's so unoriginal."

The business arguments for these new streaming services are well-documented. If you have a reservoir of popular shows and movies, why share with Netflix or Hulu? If you're Disney or Apple, why not build a wall around your properties, then pick off your competitors when they run out of cash and content? And, if you want total control of your brand, why share search algorithms and home screens?

Aside from a spike in piracy, how will we collectively react to all these subscriptions? A revolution? A rejection? A return to the simple joys of a quiet, screenless life? Nope. The big players have already worked an acceptable amount of password-sharing into their models, so we'll just live in an evolved ecosystem, where more passwords are shared within (slightly) larger circles. There's also an upside they don't talk about: bartering passwords creates community, conversation, and potentially greater overall viewership, especially for tentpole shows like Star Trek: Discovery, Servant, or The Mandalorian. -Matt Brown, Head of Marketing

5. VR/AR from Apple

Rumblings have been increasing over the possibility of Apple developing a new Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality device, to launch in 2020 or 2021. 

Apple has focused for the past several years on ARKit, a framework to make it easy for developers to build impressive AR experiences, but the use case has always been questionable if it means holding an iPhone or iPad in front of your face for any length of time.

A set of eyewear that can project the same information over your field of view feels inevitable; it’s a matter of when, not if. For more on the possibilities of AR, check out Aaron Pike’s great post The Coming Supremacy of AR. -Aaron Vegh, iOS Developer

6. Social Media, Wishful Thinking

I predict that more people will give up on social media in 2020. I think (I hope?) that people are getting smarter about the way we use our time and share our data, and that it will increase the spurning of traditional social media.

That's also maybe wishful thinking on my part, mostly because I keep wondering why I like Instagram. Then, just as I think I'm finally going to give it up, it shows me a wonderful artist whose work I've never encountered, or a way to explore a town I want to visit. After that, unfortunately, it shows me a sweater I absolutely must purchase.

(I also predict that AR glasses that aren't atrocious or totally stupid will become available. That’s a big ask, I know.) -Joana Kelly, COO

7. “Good” Privacy Stories

I think there will be more data breaches and privacy scandals regarding technology, which will lead to awareness of how much companies use our data with or without permission. 

In addition, our collective realization of how much control companies have over our devices — whether that be tracking our location or silently turning on our devices cameras or microphone — will grow exponentially.

The idea that no program/app is free or subsidized, and we pay for it with our information, will start to surface in people’s minds and spur even more conversation about regulating technology. We won’t come to an easy solution, but with the growth of companies and monopolies I do expect some “good” privacy stories in 2020. -Tammy Tyberg, Android Developer

8. Social Network Fatigue

I stopped using Facebook many years ago, and in the last year or two I’ve dropped out of Instagram as well. While I certainly understand the attraction of these incredible social networks, I also felt a bit fatigued by them. 

I’m not alone there by any means, and I think the trend will accelerate. People who’ve been using these services for years will begin to look elsewhere for how they spend their digital time. 

There will be real opportunities for new social products to emerge, ones that are built around new technological developments and a foundation of authenticity and trust. The trick will be how to survive and scale some of these new emerging alternatives, without being immediately snapped up or squashed by the massive incumbents. -Gavin Fraser, CEO


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