Welcome to the next tech age.
It might not seem like it, especially with the world virtually halting to a stop with the pandemic. However, many believe that we are on the cusp of the next tech age.
There are many terms and notions being floated around – the centrality of experience over digital presence, the redefining of boundaries as the whole world becomes interconnected to the point of no return, and of course, the endless possibilities of new innovations.
But as the steam engine once defined the Industrial Age and the internet reigned the Age of Information, what comes next? These five tech companies can give us a glimpse of what lies ahead –
Sector – Space Travel
Love him, hate him, or just be confused by him, there is no denying that Elon Musk will be one of the defining men of the next decade, powered especially by his company SpaceX. With lofty ambitions of colonizing Mars once seen as ridiculous, the company has left even its harshest critics awestruck by the rate of its technological development.
Reusable rockets, delivering payloads, getting astronauts to the International Space Station, and now, being a frontrunner to partner up with NASA and re-establish human presence on the moon – SpaceX seems to be there whenever and wherever astronomical innovation is.
Its competitive pricing has also forced others to bring down their prices as well, which means that space travel could become cheaper for everyone. But despite its very valid and frankly awe-inspiring achievements, the company has its fare share of critics.
Privatization of something as critical as access to space resources is already making nations sweat, and many still believe that humanity should not focus on space travel and colonization when there is so much to be solved on earth. Then, there are always the considerations of environmental impact.
There’s only so much fuel you can pump into rockets.
How SpaceX responds to the limitations and critics of spaceflight would be perhaps just as interesting as its next move.
Sector – Entertainment
Helmed by one of the world’s richest and most powerful company, with intellectual property rights to arguably the most popular franchise in the world right now – Marvel – Disney+ is set to redefine the streaming landscape.
The ripples of this can already be felt in the new slate of Marvel originals, and the quick access to new movies. There will likely be an increasingly blurry line between theatre and laptop, movie and TV, allowing for seamless storytelling experience that artists can use to make entertainment better for people.
At the same time, there are some deep concerns. Disney has, some argue, become too massive, gulping down studios like donuts. It’s nothing new, truly – Disney made its fortune taking old fables and giving it the Mickey Mouse copyright.
Now, it’s trying out ‘premier access’ – allowing you to see movies earlier than others for an extra price. Many thought it wouldn’t go down well, but with the highly acclaimed Black Widow which was released recently and with a slew of other movies in the pipeline, things may change – maybe for the worse, at least for the audience.
Sector – Artificial Intelligence
Though Baidu joined the ethics consortium Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 2018, but if Jack Ma’s fall from grace is any indication, Chinese companies are never really free to do what they want.
Way back in 2017, China’s Communist Party put out a development plan for AI, one that shows China’s approach to the technology as highly competitive, with immediate plans to apply the technology in military and defense strategies.
Systems created by independent companies, including Baidu and other giants like Tencent, are already a part of the domestic surveillance program that keeps Chinese people ”socially accountable” – and in control to the government.
State influence aside, Baidu’s growth in AI is a reckoning force, with over 7,000 patent applications for AI. Fueled by both state support and its economic strength, Baidu has been able to outperform its western counterparts in several important metrics of AI capability.
The race between the west and China on AI and the norms it develops for the industry will likely define decades to come.
Sector – Telecommunications
In 2015, India’s richest man – Mukesh Ambani of the Reliance family – decided to get generous. He opened up Jio with the aim of making telecommunication and internet services accessible to Indians, a majority of whom continue to rely on non-smartphone mobiles.
Skipping straight to 4G and Voice over LTE, Jio launched in 2015 – and within 5 years, it was the largest mobile network operator in India.
Backed by the unimaginable Reliance funding, Jio provided three months of free services to all those who bought its services, it was a risky gamble, but one that paid off splendidly. Jio now has a comfortable hold over the Indian telecom market, which is only expected to grow in the decade.
Its foray into high-speed fiber optic internet services has provided the booming business another lease of life. Like all others, Jio has not been without its controversies, including scuffles with competitors, and the alleged favoritism shown to Reliance by the central government.
Despite this, Jio is all set to continue shaping the country’s connections in the forth coming years.
The Sustainable Industry
Last but not the least, one of the most defining company of the decade will not be a company at all – it will be an entire industry and a business model. The climate crisis and the Covid-19 Pandemic has shown people that nature can no longer be bent to the will of humans without consequences.
Alternatives to energy, more effective utilization of waste, and a radical shift from just consumption to mindful consumer approach will be be the defining hallmark of the next decade. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we might actually succeed.
A lot rides on the innovation of the leaders of these tech companies, and the willingness of people to comply.
Do you think we have missed out on some impactful companies? What industries do you think will be the most important ones in the upcoming years? Let us know in the comments below!