Who will win? It’s hard to say, but from reviewing Fast Company’s cover story I have outlined my opinion of what are the top factors that will affect these companies in coming years.
- There are no boundaries: None of these companies can be pigeonholed in one industry or behind one product. Amazon is not only a retailer, but now hosts cloud sharing, music downloading, and publishing. Traditional business texts may frown upon such unfocused business plans, but for these companies it may not be important to have a winning product in each category but to take market share away from competitors, or at the very least distract them (think Google+). Furthermore, small endeavors can drive business to each company’s main product/service (Facebook partnerships with Netflix, Spotify, and The Wall Street Journal).
- Data is the linchpin in a tech-dominated world: Data is no longer viewed only as demographic cohorts, bounce-rates, or by the number of prime time viewers. Instead, it is all about individual data. Facebook collects data about how we interact creating a “social graph” illustrating real activity, not merely assumptions. Google+ is endeavoring to improve algorithms not just by what we are looking at, but by what we personally +1 as important or interesting. Amazon is enhancing customer tracking. All-together data not only enhances personalization for consumers but it facilitates new innovations.
- Individualization through devices: While data is the lifeblood of these tech companies, it is personal devices (MP3s, tablets, smartphones, readers, etc) that will facilitate the data collection and experience personalization. The PC is dead. Instead of having family tech devices every action or purchase are more and more likely to be made on an individual device.
- Regulation and privacy battles will only get more heated: Even with thousands of patents to each company’s name it is now impossible for an entire devise to be original. The minute differences in touchscreens, battery placement, or chip design have provided ample opportunity for the leading tech companies to sue one another. This type of heated litigation will need to be managed in a more realistic way as new innovations will be based on the slightest technological advances. Furthermore, governmental regulation of media copyrights and social sharing must also be lessened for the internet to function with holistic inter-connectivity AND for the leading tech companies to continue to innovate. Regulation and litigation will be the cause of the majority of major headaches in the Great Tech War of 2012, and beyond.
- We need a new Steve Jobs: To keep advancing at the same pace as seen in the last decade it is imperative Bezos, Zuckerberg, Page, or Cook assume Jobs’ former role as Chief Innovation Officer for the technology and information age. However, as stated in the close of Fast Company’s article “The real future of tech belongs to some smart-ass kid in a Palo Alto garage.” To an extent this is true, however I’d like to think it a Minneapolis basement…