January may be coming to a close, but the flood of predictions, forecasts, and prognostications for the year ahead hasn’t abated. Among the dross however is the annual list of predictions from GP Bullhound (pdf), a boutique investment bank that specializes in tech companies. The bank is worth listening to: As a dealmaker straddling start-ups and large firms, its sees trends as they’re happening. And its record of predictions from 2014 is more hit than miss.
Quartz picked the ones that will have an impact on consumers, and not just within the industry:
A thousand Ubers will bloom
Services like Uber and Airbnb will proliferate this year. The argument is slightly different from the usual ones about under-utilized resources, or the efficiency of marketplaces. Instead GP Bullhound focuses on the fact that such companies “sell trust in the branded entity rather than the component parts.” One example is ThredUp, a second-hand clothing and accessories marketplace where the “primary focus is on customer satisfaction, not daily sales.” Similarly, real estate agents at Redfin, a tech-powered brokerage firm, “earn salaries and bonuses based on customer satisfaction, not commissions.”
Smart devices will start to become intelligent
Wearable devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone are great at tracking real-world activity and turning that into data, but they “required too much hand-holding from consumers to make them ‘intelligent.'” New devices will be ”context-aware applications that automatically collect data
from multiple sources, learn, make recommendations, and, in some instances, take action without requiring input from users.”
Payments will see the biggest changes since credit cards
Lots of bold predictions here: The use of cash and plastic will decline; Apple Pay will launch in Europe; sellers of point-of-sale hardware will do battle; a major payment giant (Visa, AmEx, MasterCard) will buy up a challenger; social networks will integrate ‘buy’ buttons widely; a major global bank will start accepting cryptocurrency transfers and payments.
New media will take off
“Good story-telling and better editorial styles” are returning, thanks to a spate of new publications that have captured the imagination of younger readers accustomed to finding content through social and mobile. Distribution has changed too, with publishers and amateurs alike publishing directly on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Medium, Vine, and others. These ongoing trends lead GP Bullhound to “expect a surge of global interest in the creation and acquisition of new media brands in 2015.”
Mobile gaming will be even more addictive
Free-to-play games such as Candy Crush Soda Saga from King and Clash of Clans from Supercell already hold millions in thrall. In 2015, they will improve their ability to hold on to, and make money from, their players. They and other games publishers will expand to new genres and markets, while makers of console games will increasingly start to publish on mobile. Good luck getting anything done.