Tech trends: Winners and losers as changing attitudes shift policies in North America

Tech trends: Winners and losers as changing attitudes shift policies in North America

As I write this, the FAANGs are wobbling. Recent stock market jitters have led to - or been led by - significant fluctuations in the prices of shares in Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. What once seemed an unstoppable upward trend in stock value has, well, stopped. Paused, anyway. Arguably reversed. Whatever happens next is going to be interesting to watch, just maybe from a safe distance.

This sudden change in the fortunes of the poster-firms for big tech wasn't widely predicted, except perhaps by those who've kept a close eye on recent global monetary policy tightening, itself a delayed legacy of the 2007 financial crash.

This serves to demonstrate the futility of long-term predictions. It's not enough to focus on one area, as shocks can come from almost anywhere. Sure, analysts might point to falling iThing sales or Alphabet/Google's perceived loss of focus, or the effect of cloud-fatigue on Amazon, or Facebook repeatedly showing itself to be a privacy-compromising data-slurper, or Netflix burning through ludicrous amounts of money to win new customers. Such pontifications may or may not be valid, but they're largely irrelevant. When cheap credit dries up, whole economies change direction. That's now happening, and it's anyone's guess for how long.

So anything written about IT trends in 2019 must be taken with a pinch of salt - a large one. The last Trends article I wrote about the US is here. In it were such predictions as the increasing confrontation of corporate culture by those who deem themselves to be unfairly discriminated against. That's certainly come to pass, and the trend continues. Large corporations are treading ever more warily as they struggle to be (or be seen to be) equal and inclusive to everyone they employ or consider employing.

I also suggested that the automation of workplace practices and jobs would continue apace, which has happened and continues to do so. Natural Language Processing has come on in leaps and bounds, in terms of both voice recognition and translation. These are likely to be growth areas in 2019 because they represent two of the most successful facets of AI in everyday use.

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Alex Cruickshank

Alex Cruickshank has been writing about technology and business since 1994. He has lived in various far-flung places around the world and is now based in Berlin.  

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