Nine key trends will dominate the digital space over the course of 2015, according to popular British technology websites Dot Rising (.Rising.com) and Strategy Eye (digitalmedia.Strategyeye.com):
1. Sharing economy, including product service systems and collaborative lifestyles, will see robust growth. For example, a hotel room can be shared by several travelers, and an idle room can be rented out to visitors on a short-term basis. Code sharing among airlines allows a flight to accommodate passengers from different airlines. Ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber, the short-term home rental service Airbnb, and domestic cleaning service HomeJoy are also likely to surge this year.
2. The Internet of Things will continue to gain momentum. More home appliance manufacturers like Philips and Samsung have joined the move and launched smart home appliances. Issues concerning standards, security, data processing and other technical matters affect the IOT. But as Samsung, Apple and Google have all set up their IOT platforms, these issues will be tackled soon.
3. Financial services are now mainstream. Online financing has seen explosive growth in China. Alibaba’s Yuebao and Zhaocaibao, prepayment cards, Tencent’s Money Supermarket, Tenpay and other P2P platforms are expanding their markets. Online and mobile payment, loans and other financial products are some of the hot spots in 2015.
4. More wearable products will be rolled out. Apple Watch is scheduled to be launched in March, and many other smart watches will come to market, offering a wide variety of choices at different prices. Wearable technology is also being increasingly used in healthcare and sports, particularly in monitoring the health and physical performance of users. Lessons drawn from Google Glass will encourage better design and more affordable prices.
5. Social media and the instant messaging market become more mature. Strategy Eye notes that some social media platforms have already reached a mature stage. Facebook will enhance mobile connection and data visualization, while Twitter will focus on boosting on revenue sources. China’s Tencent will strive to internationalize its WeChat mobile text and voice messaging service, and launch more new products to generate more revenues.
6. E-commerce switches to O2O. Taobao, Amazon and eBay will remain the key e-commerce platforms, but new websites will be able to obtain financing under the theme of O2O (online-to-offline). Big data mining will gain more adherents.
7. Music, video and online entertainment will focus on streaming. Swedish streaming music platform Spotify has yet to post a satisfactory profit despite having gained reasonable scale. It also faces competition from Apple Beats and Google’s YouTube. YouTube continues to dominate the online video space, while other online games and virtual reality devices will show steady growth this year.
8. Digital advertising will become more professional. The rigid line between digital and editorial contents will blur as more advertisers demand a blending of customized targets, high-end content, and digital buying. Accurate data and in-depth analysis are needed for making tailor-made content. Mobile advertising will witness booming growth.
9. There will be dynamic growth in mobile and computer devices. Apple has made a huge success in iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, eroding the status held by Samsung. Samsung also competes furiously with Chinese mobile makers in low-end markets.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 2.
Translation by Julie Zhu
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