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Next month it is again time for us to release our annual 10 Hot Consumer Trends report, and the excitement is building as survey results come in from different parts of the world. The intention with this report is to serve as a barometer for how people expect everyday networked life to evolve in the future.
In order to pave the way for next year’s trends, I would like to quickly look at how this year’s report fared. As we expected, 2016 proved to be a year of fast change. But I am quite amazed at how right on the money we actually were.
So, here are some highlights.
When we said that AI Ends the Screen Age, headlines around the world declared that Ericsson predicted the death of the smartphone. While we did indeed say that half of all smartphone users surveyed expected smartphones to become things of the past within the next five years, our main message drowned a bit in the noise. And that message was about how consumers see the rise of AI. What we have seen in 2016 is exactly how AI is indeed ending the screen age, with the most significant moment being Google claiming to be an “AI first company” rather than a “mobile first” one.
We also said that Virtual Gets Real, and in 2016 Facebook, Valve, Sony and Google all started selling virtual reality (VR) headsets while Microsoft announced a VR headset version of their HoloLens technology. As an interesting side note, VR headsets were even selected as the Christmas present of the year in Sweden.
On top of that, the augmented reality (AR) game Pokémon GO was the fastest-ever growing app. We now live in a post Pokémon GO world and that will have immense impact on what happens next year.
Another trend focused on Smart Commuters, and Uber not only launched a commercial autonomous taxi service but also started product delivery using autonomous trucks. However, the main thrust of our story was that commuters no longer want to be passively transported from A to B but expect to make valuable use of their time. For this they need better internet access and I am happy to say that Ericsson also has contributed positively in this respect, as we recently signed an agreement with Panasonic Avionics to provide connectivity to airplane passengers.
Finally, given that we also pointed out that consumers believe that Everything Gets Hacked, it was no big surprise that many of the major messaging services got advanced encryption options during the year. Hacked emails were also a major issue in the recent US election and, whether or not the fears are founded, concerns about hacking of the election itself have been front page news.
When looking back at a year with so much change, it almost feels like looking forward!
Michael Björn is Head of Research at Ericsson ConsumerLab and has a PhD in data modeling from the University of Tsukuba in Japan. One of Michael's keen research interests is the process of assimilation of ICT into everyday consumer life.
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