The longer you work in the tech space, the more you get a feel for how things might turn out. It’s like you always have your head on the rails, listening for the oncoming train. No one sees it, and even if they too put their head to the cold, hard metal, they can’t even detect the tremors. But 36 years of listening have sharpened your senses and now you can hear and feel things others can’t. So you get up, squint into the distance, and tell a story about a possible technological future.
Here are nine predictions that range from almost certainty to almost fantasy. It’s also just a glance. Use this set of predictions as a spark for your own predictions.
Before the end of next year, consumers will seriously consider a range of streaming packages that will increasingly resemble cable deals that everyone has tried to reject. With dozens of streaming services available and an uncertain economic landscape for both the services (subscriber drain and drain) and the industry that feeds them (entertainment (opens in a new tab)), smaller streaming services may seek a safe haven in bundling or even consolidation.
He could Apple will buy Netflix in 2023 (opens in a new tab)? He could probably afford it, but Disney, which already owns Hulu and Disney+, is a more likely candidate. Netflix’s interest in sales may depend in part on the success of the advertising option. So far it has been a bit of a dud (opens in a new tab)but that could change next year. If that doesn’t happen and Netflix goes through another cycle of subscriber base volatility, it may be looking to strike a deal.
At least we’ll see more cable and internet companies offer even more bundles covering all your favorite streamers, just like they’ve done with cable bundles for decades. Everything old is new again.
The entire automotive industry is trying to switch from internal combustion engines to electric motors, and in 2023 we should see new sedans and cars from all major manufacturers. EV growth in The United States lags far behind Europe and China (opens in a new tab) but the introduction of EV pickups from GM (opens in a new tab) and Ferry (opens in a new tab) could change that.
Ironically, electric vehicles, which are supposed to help us stop climate change by zero emissions, may be more vulnerable to weather events caused by climate change. Hurricane Ian caused saltwater flooding that damaged electric vehicle’s giant lithium-ion batteries (which normally power the entire base of a car) and made them prone to burst into flames (opens in a new tab).
This is something Tesla, arguably the world’s leading maker of electric cars, might want to tackle in 2023. But this once steadfast leader is now teetering huge stock losses (opens in a new tab) and a CEO who seems more interested in social media than the self-built EV brand. Elon Musk will have to refocus on Tesla in 2023 to save it and help the entire electric vehicle market move forward.
It can be safely assumed that we will see the first sets of smartphones without ports and wireless in 2023. Apple has already removed the physical SIM slot for the iPhone 14 (in the US) and many believe it could quickly go from a Lightning port to a USB-C port to no charging port at all. It’s possible that one variant of the iPhone 15, possibly the rumored Ultra, may ship without a charging port in some markets and instead be charged via the included MagSafe charger.
Apple may not be ready for the jump, though. Surely one or two smaller Android makers could try a portless phone before the end of 2023, if only for a reason other than testing the waters.
For this wireless future to happen, we need faster wireless charging capabilities. The best wireless chargers today offer 15W and can charge a phone in less than two hours. In 2023, higher power and 45 minutes to a full charge may come.
Smart home rationalization
The biggest story in the smart home space will undoubtedly be Matter. Unfortunately, consumers will spend most of 2023 not understanding or even caring. However, if Materia does its job, many people can use it.
As more and more smart home gadgets bought each year support Matter, consumers can find that the setup and interoperability between their various digital assistants just works. This, of course, will be a triumph for Matter and all its partners, even if matter will not matter at all to consumers.
The only thing that can slow down Matter’s adoption and usability is not enough companies supporting it Thread (opens in a new tab), a low-power mesh networking technology that has been combined with Matter for a faster and easier smart home connection. I’ve seen too many products supporting one (Matter) but not yet the other (Thread).
The social media reset will continue into 2023, with Twitter dead or otherwise under control, Facebook taking a breather in the Metaverse, Instagram trying to find itself, and TikTok fighting back against the US government that doesn’t trust it.
This will leave the field open to the emergence of some new platforms. Despite its impenetrability, Mastodon has an early advantage as a replacement for Twitter, although it is not a news platform. I think there may be something new on the horizon that combines the best of Twitter, the classic photo prowess of Instagram, and the security and community of early Facebook. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking.
The question is, will our love affair with social media even survive 2023? My money is on no.
I’m pretty sure we’ll see a foldable iPhone or iPad, but I’m not sure if it’s coming this year. I mean, we might get a glimpse of a planned Apple device at WWDC 2023.
By demonstrating this device early on with next-generation iOS or iPadOS, Apple could give developers 18 months to design new apps for folding and possibly dual-screen iPhones and iPads.
This is not an unprecedented move. I still remember Apple unveiling the cylindrical Mac Pro at WWDC 2013 and it was out of stock for six months. Perhaps this more radical product move will require even more time in the development oven.
Sustainability is us
One of the biggest stories at CES 2023 won’t be about new gadgets that rejuvenate your face, fold your clothes, or transport you to the Metaverse. It will be sustainability and a narrative that will continue throughout 2023.
This is a way for companies to talk about climate change without addressing it fully. Instead, everyone will use terms like “carbon neutral,” “net zero,” and “sustainable.” At least the latter seems to apply to a more life-sustaining planet.
For the first time, we will talk about our own carbon footprint at home and ask how the products and technologies we bring to it can help us lower our own emissions. For many, their efforts may end at the front door as they consider their first EV (see above). But the considerations of smart home technology may finally connect not only to cost savings from more efficient technologies, but also to matter-based systems that can communicate and create a better and more neutral home energy profile.
On the one hand, I’m excited about the advancements in VR and AR I’ve experienced with the latest Meta Quest headgear. Quest Pro shows how far we’ve come in the development of mixed reality. But as many have pointed out to me, a system where virtual objects still cannot seamlessly interact with the real world is far from ideal.
The good news (and bad news) for Meta is that no one is interested in the Metaverse. In other words, there is no rush to build this immersive world where anyone can do anything at home, work and play. Instead, Meta will spend 2023 perfecting its mixed reality hardware and world-building software, while most people still use their VR headsets mostly for gaming and exercise.
2023 won’t be the year of the Metaverse and may even skip 2024. I think 2025 will be with much smaller, lighter hardware and 10x better optics and graphics when things finally start to get interesting.
AI goes to work
Someone is going to hire the first AI reporter to not only prepare ideas based on prompts, but also to send inquiries, get answers and compose original stories. Artificial intelligence will give you the latest news. In 2023, the first staging of a play written by artificial intelligence will also take place. A song written, composed and performed by artificial intelligence will hit the Billboard Top 100.
Major art museums will host AI art shows, and some will hang computer-generated artwork right next to the masters. At some point, no one will be able to tell the difference.
As I said, all of this is nothing more than a narrow glimpse into what will be a very broad and busy tech future. I may be wrong about some or all of these things, but I bet I’ll be more right than ChatGPT’s AI. When I asked him about the main tech trends in 2023, he told me about technologies like 5G for smartphones that were already out. Maybe I should rethink this whole AI thing.