While folding smartphones have not fully delivered on their promise, one thing for sure in terms of technological developments over the next decade is that it will be strongly marked by the explosive commercial growth of 5G. Ericsson predicts that it sees 5G reaching a total of 2.6 billion subscriptions globally by the end of 2025. According to the company, the technology acceleration process will move forward by 2020, laying the groundwork to the high levels of adoption that will start from 2021/2022.
"Smart" news everywhere
The "smart" news was not limited to small machines in the palm of our hands, coming in the form of wearables, or ready-to-wear technology. In 2019, around 84.5 million units of technological accessories, known as werables, were placed in stores during the third quarter of 2019, a 94.6% increase over last year, according to IDC, equivalent to a distribution record for a single quarter.
The significant increase was due to the high demand for new products that were launched in the market, especially in terms of wireless headsets. Wearables that interact with smart assistants have also become popular, expanding beyond the usual health and fitness accessories. And the top smartphone makers have been betting on the segment, pushing “rivalry” to other lands, but by the end of the decade Apple eventually led the way in the distribution of wearables with its AirPods, which in 2019 arrived. to its second generation, either with its Apple Watch, which this year has reached its fifth version.
But that's not all: at home, gadgets have become ubiquitous not only thanks to the emergence of smart speakers, but also to the popularization of devices from the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. Virtual assistants began to gain prominence from 2015, with the commercialization of Amazon Echo and the well-known Alexa, and although they were no longer a new technology, already existing in smartphones, they took over our devices and our homes.
By late 2018, more than 114 million people worldwide had and used a smart speaker, Canalys Research analysts said. The trend towards the end of the decade was for growth, with an increase of 82.4% expected by the end of 2019, which means an increase to 207.9 million.
The smart speaker market has become increasingly crowded. Google, which surrendered to the “fever” of smart personal assistants at home in 2016, unveiled its latest bet in October this year: the Google Nest Mini with its Google Assistant. Apple announced the launch of the Home Pod in 2017 and Samsung also entered the race, promising in 2018 the arrival of a Bixby-equipped home speaker. Although it upgraded its intelligent system, Galaxy Home was still in the workshop in August.
In 2019, Amazon introduced several new features regarding Alexa integration beyond the speakers. Thus, the smart assistant of the e-commerce giant also came to be in glasses, rings, wireless headphones, leaving the promise that Alexa would communicate even with not so "smart" devices, such as light switches or thermostats.
Outside the comforts of home, drones have allowed anyone to explore air, land and even sea and are now used for professional purposes almost as much as they are used by aviation enthusiasts and amateurs. In this universe, DJI has clearly taken over as the leading brand and manufacturer of home and professional drones, and more recently it seems to want to conquer the remote control terrestrial device market as well.
In this decade, “getting away” from reality has become as “simple” as putting on a VR headset or even augmented reality glasses, for example the world of video games. After the fall and rise of Google Glasses, at least in its original concept, bets like Microsoft's Hololens and even “mixed reality” headsets like Magic Leap began to become well known. Already in the world of virtual reality, for the PC, popularized the Oculus Rift that captured the interest in the famous VR glasses, catching the eye of Facebook, which bought the company. Already in the console world, Sony rules alone with its PS VR system, with over 4 million systems sold.
Notwithstanding all the progress made over the last ten years in the gadget world, the current scenario may not be as utopian as expected. We become more dependent on smartphones and the small machines in the palm of our hands that accompany us 24/7 have changed many of our behaviors and habits. In addition, our privacy has been increasingly compromised, not only due to platforms and social networks whose business model is deemed incompatible with human rights, but by intelligent assistants who have come to know more than they should about us. Between “ups and downs” one thing is certain: gadgets are here to stay and we probably couldn't imagine our lives without them anymore.