As we begin to wind down the year, many executives within the tech industry are looking ahead to 2015 and evolving strategies based on expectations of what's coming next. Technology, which has the power to move industries at unprecedented speeds - forging into new markets and completely overturning others - has increased the pace of innovation across virtually every market.
In the past few years alone, fast moving transportation startups have completely disrupted the powerful taxi industry and are changing the way people get around. Wearable technology has introduced the concept of the quantified self and has simplified health, fitness and sleep tracking. Innovators within the payments space are changing the way we buy--removing friction and enabling seamless one touch buying experiences on mobile. And progress on the online education front has made it so that learning no longer requires tens of thousands of dollars or years of schooling.
So what new shifts and innovations will 2015 bring? The six executives below share their predictions for where the industries they're in will be this time next year.
Transportation: Logan Green, Co-founder & CEO, Lyft
"2015 will see individual car ownership's steepest decline since 'peak car,' which transportation researchers estimate was 10 years ago. Americans will spend less on transportation, detach from personal vehicles, take fewer solo driving trips, and mainstream behaviors like carpooling to work, because they can use options like Lyft for ridesharing and Getaround for car-sharing to weave a web of personally optimized transportation solutions. Currently, the average American household owns just under two cars, but that figure is likely to creep closer to 1.75 cars per home as more people choose to share one vehicle among their family, or go entirely carless - and not only in urban areas, but in suburban regions as well. The decline of car ownership is not temporary, and not limited to a single generation. Stingier car-buying habits are here to stay as more Americans choose to let someone else do the driving."
Music: Eric Wahlforss, Co-founder & CTO, SoundCloud
"We're living in a collaborative and creative online culture. You'll find new musical genre lines being created, blurred, and demolished as the tools for creating and performing, producing and distributing are more efficient, widespread and cheaper than ever before. Over the past few years, the Internet has become the dominant medium for music distribution, but we have only just begun to start tapping into the enormous benefits of direct artist/fan interaction that happens online. In 2015, we hope to see efforts that will expand opportunities to DJs and producers who remix others' content. We won't have it all figured out next year, as it's a huge task that requires collaboration and buy-in from many different groups. But in time, we believe we can make it happen."
Mobile Payments: Bill Ready, CEO, Braintree
"Consumers are shifting to mobile as their primary computing device. The shift to smaller screened devices - which offer less room for data entry but more context around the device owner - is driving consumer expectation for a more seamless buying experience. As obstacles between consumers and merchants - like typing in credit card, billing and shipping information - fade with the help of wallet solutions like One Touch with PayPal and Apple Pay, the gap between browsing and buying on mobile will decrease. The security and simplicity of these solutions will also help to shift the consumer to what will become the predominant way we will buy in the future - via digital wallets. In the next five years, mobile will begin to drive the majority of ecommerce and 2015 is the year that we'll really start to see this shift."
Wearables: Hosain Rahman, Founder & CEO, Jawbone
"We are starting to see a real divide emerge in the wearables market between the 'phone on your wrist' devices and smaller, more comfortable, and discrete products. We see this divide opening up even further in the coming year with many multi-sensor devices claiming to be suitable for 24/7 wear, but hardly any living up to that promise. There's so much more we can do with the new multi-sensor technology - it's like the step-up from feature phones to smart phones. In the next year I think we'll see a wealth of interesting features and apps that really leverage the capabilities of multi-sensor devices like the UP3. So as well as looking at things like heart health and in-depth sleep tracking you will start to see guidance and insights around broader signals such as stress and fatigue."
Messaging: Ted Livingston, Founder & CEO, Kik
"WeChat and Line have already shown the way in China, and Facebook is starting to wake up to this in the US: Chat is the biggest opportunity since the Internet, and the battle to dominate chat is turning out to be perhaps the most important battle in the history of personal computing. As WeChat has demonstrated, you can build an entire computing ecosystem around chat, from transacting money to playing games to booking taxis. WeChat users can even arrange a mortgage through the chat platform. What's interesting to us is who will win this battle in the West. Next year, the front-runners will start to emerge. What we know now is that the winners will have to be mobile native, have a chat-first platform and must own Western youth. That is the future of personal computing."
EdTech: Sal Khan, Founder & Executive Director, Khan Academy
"Over the next few years people will begin to differentiate about what's truly working for students and what's not. On our part, Khan Academy is excited about becoming a mobile focused organization, internationalizing our content to truly reach everyone on the planet and partnering with the College Board to provide college access through the new SAT. Research, development and analytics - these things are critical to us to keep us at the leading edge of innovation in the space."