It’s the season of predictions and when it comes to digital and tech, there are as many hits as there are misses. Since this was a year full of surprises and upsets, let’s look at some anti-predictions that don’t have a prayer in the next 12 months, if at all. But who knows? If 2017’s as crazy as 2016 was, some may actually come true.
1. Virtual reality will arrive in everyone’s home and we’ll be enamoured by the immersive, interactive experience. This will lose some of its attractiveness when people become used to it and start walking around in virtual worlds staring into their virtual smartphones.
2. After the popularity of their Spectacle vending machines, Snapchat will spin off a Snapvend division. The most popular products will be lightning cables, Skittles, and of course weird-looking glasses that upset strangers because they’re being broadcast without consent or a royalty fee (see: Google Glass).
3. Big data will finally be more than a security blanket with dashboards nobody ever reads. Companies will stop hoarding vast stockpiles of information and actually connect it in meaningful, measurable ways to drive informed decisions.
4. Brands will finally figure out how to leverage online influencers and we’ll see a huge spike in content partnerships with them. This will leave their follower bases feeling much like a rented e-mail list so they’ll simply opt out after one too many selfies with BOGO coupons.
5. Amazon delivery drones will get into a war with Amazon inventory robots. It'll be like the latest Terminator movie, only shorter and more interesting.
6. Live steaming will be huge. People will rush to tap and view what crazy things their favourite cereal brand is streaming next. "Love versus Like" participation will keep people engaged all year long.
7. The fake news phenomenon will be solved by some 12-year-old wiz kid. However, three days later, we’ll realise it's no different from how we found a solution for email spam or getting first-page results in search (spoiler alert: there aren't any silver bullets).
8. Brands will finally find a way to get users to open their branded mobile app regularly, without a direct or indirect bribe.
9. Personalisation will actually be more than data-driven “Mad Libs.” Creative ways to connect with consumers and drive relevance will evolve beyond "Hi, First Name."
10. Google will finally figure out social. Google+ will get a major upgrade and people will flock to it, expanding far beyond the current Zuckerberg-hating core.
11. After growing tired of constant moderation and censorship, social media trolls will create a new startup called Trollr. You heard it here first from me. (Don’t forget it!) But they’ll be forced to close their doors after realising advertisers “ain’t got time for that.”
12. Uber will offer a self-driving vehicle option to the masses that has seven times the surge charge. People will be delighted by the chance to incoherently ramble their home address using Siri-like voice commands at 3 a.m.
13. Apple will win back die-hard nerds. The lost children of Woz will finally get their badly needed hardware upgrades to desktop and laptops and all will be right with the neglected OSX followers.
14. Speaking of Apple, the new iPhone 8 will be released, and people will applaud the courageous move away from lightning cables to USB-C for the next two to three hardware revisions until something better comes along.
15. A non-techie will drink Soylent, cough while gagging, close it up and drop it into the trash. Just imagine how astronauts feel.
16. People will give up on ad blockers because they’ll finally understand advertiser subsidies pay for their "free" content. Marketers will high-five one another as click-throughs skyrocket to three percent.
17. Machine learning, combined with data-driven personalisation, will automatically generate lists like this. And you can have Alexa or Siri read them to you while you figure out your next career move.
Azher Ahmed is EVP, Director of Digital at DDB Chicago