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Swing And A Miss: Slightly Off Predictions About 2014

In professional baseball, hitting the ball one-third of the time is considered a very strong result. While that may seem generous, considering the ball has a circumference of 9 inches and is hurled at the batter in excess of 90 miles an hour most of the time, it’s actually fairly miraculous that anyone ever hits the ball at all.

A similar spirit of generosity should perhaps be extended to the payments prognosticators who take the stage at the end of the holiday season to take their best guesses as to “what’s next” in the year to come. Sometimes they hit it out of the park, so to speak, but given the rapidly evolving nature of technology and fickleness of consumers, more often than not, trying to call things a year in advance gets the better of most batters forecasters.

What were the predictions for 2014 that turned out to be a swing and a miss? PYMNTS has some of our favorites right here.

“Google Glass becomes the must-have tech gadget of the year.” | The Washington Post

If the predictions of early January 2014 had been correct, most people will have spent their Christmas recounting the series of terrifying adventures they had in trying to secure a Google Glass for someone they loved. By all accounts it was on track to be the “must have” item this year, a $1500 dollar heads-up wearable that sat on the users face much like a pair of glasses.

“It’s a safe bet that if Google Glass is cool enough for the runway models of DVF and the fashion spreads of Vogue, it’s also cool enough for the mainstream tech consumer who’s looking to move beyond the smartphone,” wrote the Post’s Dominic Basulto.

That was before the bar fights, restaurants turning glass wearers away, the creepy use of the device on the nation’s subways to photograph strangers and the invention of the term “glasshole” to describe the owner/wearer of Google Glass.

And so by the end of 2014 there were likely almost no Google Glasses stuffed into stockings this year, as Google never put the device into mass production (they have been available though a few one-off one-day sales).

“The rise of wearables for consumers is going to be one of the key growth areas in mobile technology in 2014.” | Forbes

It’s easy to pick on Google Glass as a failure to launch, but it certainly wasn’t alone. At the outset, 2014 looked like it would be filled with ways to wear ones mobile devices. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear was the most well known since it kicked off (and ended) 2014 with a with a huge marketing campaign, but there was also the Sony SmartWatch 2 or the Kickstarter fueled Pebble watch. All three were designed as a companion to the run of the mill watch.

In tandem, wearable fitness technologies were also apparently floating on the edge of ignition. Nike’s FuelBand and the Fitbit were described as revolutionizing the way humans track their vital health statistics, in real time.

By the end of the year, wearables are definitely a topic of conversation, but they certainly didn’t explode this year. By April, Nike had laid off most its FuelBand team and made a decisive shift away from fitness hardware (the first generation of the FuelBand will likely be the last) to instead focus on building a software platform with wider compatibility.

“We’re trying to harmonize that and make it a seamless platform you can move across wherever you are,” Stefan Olander, Nike’s VP of Digital, told WIRED. “We’re trying to make it so you don’t have the impression you’re dealing with a different Nike whenever you download a different experience. You take all your fuel with you, all your information with you, and the friends you have in Running should be the same friends you have in Fuel and should be the same friends you have in Nike Training Club. That’s not the case right now.”

Now, of course, part what fueled this optimistic speculation was the anticipation of the launch of Apple’s wearable in September. That didn’t happen and isn’t expected to until “sometime” in 2015. We’ll have to see if Apple can succeed where others have failed, at least so far.

“The price of bitcoin is likely to range between $4,000-$5,000 by the end of 2014.” | Lightspeed India Venture Partners

The bitcoin mania now can seem a little silly given that bitcoin is trading in the mid-$300’s now, but a year ago it really did seem as though the sky might be the limit with bitcoin’s price surging to almost $1,300 last December. The price deflated to $750 by the end of the year, but in early January it bumped back up again to over $1,000.

And then the time of trial began.

From the mismanagement of funds at Mt. Gox, blatant criminality at Silk Road, every central banker in the world essentially saying “no thanks” to bitcoin, a near apocalypse when one mining pool almost attained super powers over the currency (before they voluntarily shut it down, for the greater good of bitcoin) and Apple Pay stealing all the headlines and enthusiasm – 2014 was a rough year for bitcoin. And, it’s current price (I will add teh price as of 7 AM from our Tracker and LINK to it) reflects that.

Bloomberg voted it the year’s worst performing currency, an honor it had to beat out the Russian ruble to obtain.

Yet the venture money still flows. No Virginia, there is no bubble.

The United States will experience its first big cyber attack. | The Washington Post

It wasn’t a year that lacked for cyber attacks, that much is certain. Neiman Marcus, Michaels, P.F. Chang’s, Dairy Queen, Home Depot, Jimmy Johns, Sally Beauty Supply, eBay Citibank – the list literally goes on and on. There were the non-payment data hacks as well, at MCX of (dummy) email addresses, of the Apple iCloud that left celebrates private photos exposed and, just in time for Christmas, of Sony Pictures that left their executives embarrassed and many Americans deprived of the cinematic treasure that The Interview surely would have been (even though it is now available online and in selected theaters).

It wasn’t even a year that lacked for government computers being hacked. In early September a hacker broke into part of the HealthCare.gov insurance enrollment website and uploaded malicious software. In that case, however, no personal data went missing and it seemed the hacker only gained access to a server used to test code for HealthCare.gov.

However, it wasn’t quite what the apparently excitable Post predicted either.

“There are clear signs that the Chinese and North Koreans are working on cyberweapons, and it’s only a matter of time before Al-Qaeda or some other rogue terrorist organization uses cyberweapons to shut down part of the U.S. utility grid, or even worse, to unleash a major attack on a U.S. city by doing something like playing around with the computers inside nuclear reactors.”

Not so much. As it turns out, cybercriminals this year were much more interested in stealing money and pictures of naked celebs than playing with the nation’s nuclear power grid.

The mobile wallet will continue to rise | VendHQ

In their rather positive predictions for the mobile wallet last year, even VendHQ noted that it was unlikely that pay-by-mobile was going to replace cash anytime soon.

They were still, however, they were expecting great things.

“Mobile will definitely get a huge chunk of the payments pie in the coming year. According to Forrester Research, mobile payments will amount to $90 billion in the coming years. And we anticipate that in 2014, retailers will be taking big strides towards that number by adopting solutions such as PayPal, Google Wallet, Square Wallet, Dwolla, and more.”

Not quite how things went.

In 2014 the Square Wallet was discontinued, Google Wallet has fired it entire staff twice and though Isis briefly saw a spike in downloads, its biggest story of the year was having to change its name so it could be easily distinguished from a terrorist group.

And in reality, the number of people paying by mobile at the end of 2014 is higher, but not dramatically higher, than the number at the end of 2013. Retailers so far have no rushed to adopt mobile – though that may change some in 2015 when the EMV liability shift happens as EMV terminals are also usually NFC compatible (good news for Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Softcard)

Mobile did have on significant advance in 2014 – the launch of Apple Pay certainly made the concept of paying by phone and the desirability of tokenized data “cool,” in the sense that it kickstarted the national conversation about them. However, all the interest so far hasn’t attracted a mass amount of users – 90 percent of those who could be using it have not so far, according to research from InfoScout.

Also, even if those retailers do adopt, many of them – specifically those who signed on with MCX – will only be taking mobile payments in 2015 if CurrentC is released on schedule, as their non-compete prevents them from taking NFC based wallets.

It’s not easy getting the future right, especially when the data is drawn from predictors who sometimes clearly get a little frisky during the holidays. As it turns out 2014 was not quite the year mobile took off or the year that we all decided that having tech was nearly so fun as wearing tech. But then, on the upside, it also wasn’t the year of the techpocolypse when hackers destroyed the U.S. government from laptops on Starbucks wi-fi.

As for 2015 – it seems analysts are already predicting that it will be the year of mobile – for real this time. Maybe this is the year they’ll be right. Or it will be a prediction we are rereading at this time next year when PYMNTS recaps 2015’s hits and misses.

 

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