A pandemic claiming millions of lives around the world and accelerating the digital transformation of just about all human activity? Even the best futurists and fans of divination games would not have predicted the scenario that materialized in 2020. And if we had not ourselves foreseen what would be the main news of the last year, our predictions regarding technological developments turned out to be quite fair (naturally, we had not anticipated that Quibi would disappear so quickly ).
The forecast for 2021 is now being drawn up against 2020 in light of 2020. As the fight against the pandemic continues, innovators will design technological solutions dedicated to our personal and professional lives, from streaming cinema to the news. generations of laptops, which are long overdue. But we will also be in search of a new form of normality, and here too we can count on technologies: hybrid work configurations and high-tech masks will be, among others, on the program. And each of these new products or services will come with a new monthly plan.
Here is, at the beginning of January, what we can expect in 2021.
Innovations Born From The Pandemic
Masks, webcams, and disinfectants for our hands … and our gadgets. So many articles that we would never have thought of in 2019 that they would become essential in our daily life. Keen to capitalize on our interest in these new things (and our fear of the virus), marketers are likely to be swarming with ideas meant to make our lives easier – or at least presented as such.
Among the main innovations expected this year are better webcams for our now daily video communications. Samsung has already announced that its next Galaxy smartphone, due for release in early 2021, will deliver better performance in terms of recording and video calling. We believe the same will be true for laptop manufacturers, who should finally improve the quality and resolution of their webcams.
UV disinfection products, intended for cleaning phones and other gadgets, should find a place in our pockets or cars. Another object that will perhaps end up accompanying us on all our outings: high-tech masks. Their functions will be multiple: Bluetooth connection and microphone (as offered by Maskfone), portable air purifier operating with a fan (LG Puricare), or even a model with integrated UV LED (UV Mask). Not to mention the air quality sensors, help to trace contacts … the list goes on.
We could also wear clothes that help with social distancing. SimpliSafe, a company specializing in home security, has developed a sweater incorporating an alarm that is activated when someone approaches within two meters. Designed as a fantasy, the sweater immediately found its audience.
Laptops Enter A New Era
In 2021, the laptop is no longer the boring device it used to be. The rise of telecommuting and homeschooling has led to an unprecedented explosion in demand (in a few decades we may be telling our grandchildren about the big Chromebook out of stock of 2020). In November, Apple released a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro incorporating its own M1 chips instead of Intel Inside microprocessors. Result? Laptops have never been so quiet and their battery life has never been so long.
The move away from microprocessors based on Intel’s x86 architecture in favor of chips that use more energy-efficient ARM technology, such as those used in smartphones, is ushering the entire computer industry into a new era. Lenovo, Acer, and Microsoft have started to market Windows or Chrome OS laptops equipped with Qualcomm chips, found in popular Android smartphones. This trend will accelerate again this year, with almost all manufacturers of PCs running Windows cooperating with Qualcomm in laptops, some even designed for 5G, according to Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm.
Apple, which intends to equip its entire Mac range with its own processors by 2022, should also put its long-awaited new iMac on sale. It also wouldn’t be surprising if other tech giants, including Amazon and Microsoft, also decided to use their own chips for their servers, computers, and other portable devices.
This year, many films will be released simultaneously on the big and small screens. This is for example the case of Dune, which moviegoers can if they wish to discover it from their sofa.
Last April, with cinemas closed, Universal Pictures released The Trolls 2: World Tour for hire online. The film had unexpectedly broken records, grossing $ 100 million in revenue through platforms like Apple TV. Disney then bet big by launching Mulan through its Disney + streaming service for an additional cost of $ 30. After offering Wonder Woman 1984 to all HBO Max subscribers at Christmas (at no additional cost), WarnerMedia intends to release all of its 2021 productions on the online platform.
Hollywood is thus following in Netflix’s footsteps, more out of necessity than choice. AMC, the first chain of cinemas in the United States, announced an 85% drop in attendance to its cinemas over one year while Regal Cinemas, the second, closed all of its sites in the United States.
The director of Dune, which HBO Max intends to propose in the fall, signed a scathing column in the press, explaining that streaming alone could not support the film industry. The parent companies of studios like Comcast, AT&T, or Disney, focused on digital, may not be of the same opinion: they have the distribution channels essential to the delivery of their content – and the valuable customer data that goes with it.
The Assisted Reality, Rather Than Augmented
When will Apple release smart glasses? Probably not in 2021. And if Google took a big step forward in this area last summer by acquiring North, a pioneer in glasses with a projection system, the group has abandoned the second version of North glasses in its projects. . Facebook has announced the launch of smart glasses in 2021 – and they will be Ray-Ban brand.
The boss of the platform, Mark Zuckerberg, said in September that the glasses will be a “new step on the road to augmented reality.” They will not integrate virtual objects giving the impression of interaction with the real world. Augmented reality headsets like Microsoft’s HoloLens can offer an immersive experience but are still expensive and bulky.
‘Assisted reality’ glasses (which project text, images, and even video into the wearer’s field of vision) are more interesting today, says Brian Ballard, boss of Upskill, a software specialist. for mobile and portable devices. Businesses appreciate the usefulness of the features these glasses provide for video conferencing, or the real-time instructions that appear directly in the participants’ field of view.
Sport … And Remote Medical Consultations
Home health-related services have a bright future ahead of them. Downloads of health and sports-related apps grew 46% globally in the first half of 2020, according to MoEngage, a marketing research firm.
Connected sports equipment, once a costly extravagance, quickly spread with the closure of gyms. Peloton, the specialist in connected bicycles and treadmills, saw its turnover triple in the quarter ending in September. In June, Lululemon Athletica bought Mirror, which specializes in home fitness classes.
Ecommerce Isn’t Just Amazon’s Business
As a result of the pandemic, consumer adoption of e-commerce will have achieved ten years of progress in a single quarter and pushed all businesses – especially those that relied on large-scale physical store footfall – to step into the markets. no Amazon and provide convenient home shopping solutions.
The Target supermarket chain has seen online orders explode while Costco warehouses have reported unprecedented growth in e-commerce. Walmart launched an Amazon Prime-style subscription, dubbed Walmart +, which it quickly expanded to keep competition at bay (the retailer recently removed minimum purchase and order routing fees from Walmart. com, and offers free shipping for food orders starting at $ 35.) Shopify, which processes payments from many small businesses online, has developed its own network of fulfillment centers so that these businesses can deliver their faster and more efficiently their products, bypassing Amazon.
With fast, free deliveries now commonplace, and with retailers realizing that their stores will not return to the footfall levels they experienced before the pandemic, consumers can now indulge in an old shopping practice online: comparing prices. offers. In 2021, Amazon’s value proposition (offering the most convenient solution, although not always the cheapest) will be put to the test. In addition, its position in the market – like that of Google, Facebook, and Apple – will remain in the sights of regulatory authorities.
The Explosion Of Subscriptions
Today, it is difficult to escape subscriptions, which any new service seems to come with. Video streaming applications, home delivery of groceries, storage in the cloud … But also exercise bikes, to-do lists, pet food: we have resolutely entered the era of “everything as a service” “. It is more and more common to have to purchase a subscription for services that in the past would have been paid for in one go. And this type of offer should continue to develop – particularly in the field of computer equipment. Apple already offers Fitness + – a subscription-based sports app that works with the Apple Watch – and, if it finds an audience, the company, like others in the industry, is likely to
The subscriptions that consumers already pay will therefore continue to increase. Companies say these increases are necessary to fund new content or new options. In June, YouTube TV raised its prices by $ 15. In October, Netflix’s top streaming offering dropped from $ 12.99 to $ 13.99. In November, Google removed its free photo storage service. Disney, meanwhile, has announced that the monthly Disney + subscription will drop from $ 6.99 to $ 7.99 in March.
The Advent Of Teleworking
While teleworking has many advantages, it hardly helps to develop trust between employees: no water cooler, no café to improvise a brainstorming session, no place to have a drink after the office. Companies whose employees were already teleworking before the pandemic had a solution: the organization of “green” retreats.
Buffer, all of whose employees telecommute, has a habit of bringing together all of its staff at least once a year. Dozens of other companies practicing partial or total teleworking are doing the same, which has given birth to a sector dedicated to the organization of this type of event.
Companies that have adopted telecommuting have done so because it satisfies their employees, but also because they can save on their office space. In 2021, among the millions of employees who have adopted some form of teleworking, many will find themselves participating in yoga sessions together, or meditating in the presence of their leader – group activities much less expensive than the rent of the offices that these workers have deserted.
American-Style Electric Cars
Electric cars are all the rage, sure, but they don’t have much to do with the good old American pickup truck. The market should change in 2021 with the launch of a few models combining tradition with concern for the environment.
Next summer, the start-up Rivian intends to deliver the first versions – already out of print – of its R1T pick-up and its R1S SUV, vehicles with a range of some 500 kilometers and whose first prize is set at 70. 000 dollars.
General Motors will follow in the fall, with its electric GMC Hummer. The manufacturer has already stocked up on reservations for its Edition 1 model, sold from $ 112,595, whose range is estimated at over 550 kilometers and which reaches 95 km/hour in about 3 seconds. Lower models will be available in subsequent years, but their prices are expected to remain high.
Ford intends to launch its electric pickup, called F-150 Electric, in mid-2022. Before the pandemic, the group had filmed a prototype capable of towing a load of more than 450 tonnes. And in late 2021 or 2022, we could see the debut of Tesla’s Cybertruck.
Beyond these road monsters, other brands are also developing larger electric vehicles. Over the past year, Toyota, Audi, and Jaguar have introduced electric SUVs, and the trend is set to continue: by 2021, in the US market, more than half of electric or hybrid vehicles will be SUVs – 82 models in total, compared to 66 passenger vehicles.