If you look back at the history of the tech industry, a major transition takes place roughly every decade that drives new applications, form factors, and usage models and expands the overall user base and market size.
In the 1990s, there was tremendous growth in the PC market as prices went down, notebooks became lighter and more portable, and a wider range of business and home software applications became available.
During the first decade of the new millennium, the emergence of the internet led to explosive PC market growth as more and more people and businesses scrambled to get online and entrepreneurs fought to cash in on the hype by building the next pets.com.
The growing ubiquity of wireless connectivity combined with the rising popularity of cellular phones led to the next great industry transition towards mobility and the cloud at the end of the last decade. As a result of tremendous innovations in hardware, software, cloud, and high-speed wireless technologies, there are now an estimated 5 billion mobile phone users around the globe, roughly half of whom are owners of smart phones.
Now we find ourselves on the cusp of the next great tech industry transition towards autonomous vehicles or, as it is increasingly being labeled, mobility. In terms of the key technologies that are underpinning it, it is relatively easy to predict the future trajectory of the shift: namely, the development of higher compute capabilities and greater wireless bandwidth to ensure the real-time processing of ever-richer volumes of visual data.
However, just as nobody was able to predict who the “winners” of previous tech industry transitions would be, it’s next-to-impossible to foresee who will come out as the victors from this one. Even more difficult will be forecasting the social and economic impact of the shift to mobility given that it is happening at a speed, scope, and scale that has never been seen before in human history.
This is what makes analyzing and navigating this transition so interesting and so challenging. I’m looking forward to exploring this topic in greater detail in future entries.