Earlier in October, Michael Wolf and his firm Activate published an insanely comprehensive and insightful look at behavior and trends in tech and media, making some interesting projections for 2016.
I’m embedding the whole presentation below, or you can download the PDF.
Here are my top six takeaways:
1. We spend more time on tech & media than work or sleep.
This shouldn’t be shocking considering I can look at my own life and see the truth of it. But it’s a little startling to see as a statistic averaged out over the population. When you consume and interact with life through screens more than life unmediated, the phrase “you are what you eat” starts to carry a lot more weight. Better curating, filtering, and distilling of information, whether human- or AI-powered, will be in ever higher demand, and could almost become a matter of public health.
2. Message threads are the new apps
Or you might say, messages ARE the medium. People have been saying for awhile that messaging is the next major platform. And I was maybe only half on board w/ that statement until now. Maybe I was hung up on messages, because it’s really more about conversations.
Because sure, it’s about communicating with other people, which is certainly the driving use case. But it’s also very much about communicating with machines: Siri, Google Now, etc. What’s a voice command but a transcribed message? Right now these services can only interact with select apps on your phone. But that relationship won’t be exclusive for long. If more of my commonly used apps and services found their way on to, let’s say, Facebook Messenger, and I could interact w/ them as freely as I do with Siri or Google Now, then Facebook leapfrogs your phone’s homescreen as your new starting point. Makes the case for Facebook’s M assistant all the more more compelling.
3. Speaking of Facebook, they basically own non-SMS messaging
The WhatsApp acquisition doesn’t seem so crazy now does it? Facebook is the Google of messaging.
4. Podcasts are a growth opportunity
And they’re attracting a top-shelf audience, which is growing but nowhere close to topping out.
The playing field is wide open to start a podcast, no matter what your niche. As blogger and tech-personality-at-large Merlin Mann recently tweeted:
Random thought technology: consider making a podcast about the thing you can’t believe no one ever asks your weirdly specific opinion about.
— Merlin Mann (@hotdogsladies) October 21, 2015
Now, certainly hits like Serial affected popularity, but the upward trend is much larger. In many ways, audience growth seems to keep pace alongside our adoption of another time-delayed, binge-able medium: streaming TV, or more specifically, Netflix. I’m not sure if there’s a casual relationship here, but considering podcast listeners likely displace public radio listeners, it could give Video Killed the Radio Star a whole new layer of cultural significance.
5. Most streaming TV isn’t through a TV
This might be obvious to you, especially if you have kids, but for me, as someone who exclusively watches streaming TV and movies, I do nearly everything through a streaming device hooked to a TV, and couldn’t imagine it any other way.
I wonder if this will shift as more millennials graduate college, move into bigger homes, etc.
6. All the big players are solving the same problems
And if they aren’t now, they will be soon, which likely means acquisitions are on the horizon:
Anyway, check out the full deck below. Definitely worth reading through when you get a chance.