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2021 — A Year to Remember?

Will 2021 be a year to remember for the right reasons?

TL;DR

The rise of Fitness-as-a-service

As we transition out of lockdown, bricks and mortar sites will need to augment the new breed of fitness subscriptions, on-demand classes and gamification with their in-person services. Better integration with smart watches, more connected devices in physical gyms and more frictionless value added services through apps will likely be used to entice users back to the offline offering.

Final Mile delivery technology needs an upgrade

The online behemoth’s “Prime” service has boomed in the past 12 months. Many of us now take advantage of Amazon’s almost universal next day delivery throughout the UK. The size and scale of their operation is almost unfathomable. In little under a decade, Amazon have gone from relying on multiple carriers for the final mile, to now owning the whole end to end process.

Amazon will soon have a bigger delivery fleet than Fedex

eCommerce comes of age

Climate tech will become mainstream

2020 saw a massive reduction in air travel, subsequently reducing CO2 emissions considerably. Many airlines took the opportunity to retire ageing and more polluting aircraft, including the much loved Boeing 747. However don’t expect to see a fully electric commercial airliner anytime soon, but that technology is maturing. We’re more likely to see a more sustainable fuel to feed powerful jet engines. In 2020 scientists from Oxford University developed technology to convert carbon dioxide into jet fuel. If this can be scaled, it could be revolutionary for climate change and make air travel one of the greenest forms of travel.

Whether you like it or not, electric vehicles are coming. In 2020, Tesla’s valuation rose more than 300% and rumours abound of Apple entering the automotive market as early as 2022. Legacy car brands are playing catch up to the new logo entrants who may be better positioned to take advantage as consumer sentiment changes. 2021 will also see more players in the battery space as technology continues to improve and therefore range becomes comparable to combustion alternatives.

Data centres may actually be the biggest dirty secret of the tech and digital world, with emissions increasing year on year. Data centres are likely to come under more focus in 2021 as we require more and more cloud storage for our digital lives and a more remote workforce. Google, Amazon and Microsoft have all experimented with various alternatives to the cavernous warehouses that house millions of servers, with Microsoft even trialing submerged data centres in the North Sea.

Apple’s big bet on privacy will dominate the FAANGs

Apple has already rolled out their own credit card and for people who are privacy conscious, it’s a no brainer to sign up for one as many commercial credit cards already share purchasing history to ad exchanges. Apple are also rumoured to be developing hardware such as glasses and strong rumours continue about an Apple car just around the corner. And with Apple Fitness, don’t be surprised if you see Apple bikes, treadmills and other connected machines to compete with Peloton.

And one more thing…With Apple now designing its own cellular chip, it will give them the capability to create their own cellular network, removing reliance on 3rd party carriers, further strengthening Apple’s push for a closed loop integrated platform for hardware and services.

Rapid adoption and opportunities for 5G

But as much of the world grapples with how to reverse the cultural shift to social distancing, it’s likely we will see 5G applications that are more consumer focused. Better remote worker experiences with low latency video calls and improved connection speeds for rural areas. 5G could even spur on growth of co-working locations in rural towns and villages, as office workers shun lengthy commutes.

The Quantum Computing Arms Race

But as with most ubiquitous modern day technology, the vast majority of R&D will initially take place within military applications and that will lead us to an “arms race” between the QC superpowers, China and the US. 2021 will likely see further public acknowledgements of advancements from the likes of Google, IBM and Amazon, all of whom have ploughed billions of dollars into developing the technology. But I suspect Beijing and Washington DC will be where the big developments will play out as both nations seek QC supremacy over the longer term.

A thawing of the cyber war

With a new US president and the UK emerging as a “sovereign” state, it’s likely both administrations will be further tested with more cyber attacks expected. Many experts are predicting that the UK could fall foul to a major breach, something that won’t play out well now that the UK is outside of the EU.

Conclusion

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