Trends For 2021

10 trends for 2021 – the pandemic shift

Get an overview of some of the most interesting ongoing tech trend with Schibsted’s top ten trends-list!

1. Splinternet: our new, fractured online life

The web is dead, so said the cover of Wired Magazine in August 2010. Ten years later it is still around, but there is no denying that its original form – the free, global, hyperlinked internet – is a thing of the past. Governments around the world are increasingly asserting control of the digital realm. China’s ”Great Firewall” and other censorship efforts are prime examples. Other countries are in turn responding to China’s global ambitions by banning Chinese apps. India banned 59 Chinese apps in July, and the US threatens to ban some of the most popular: Wechat and Tiktok. Meanwhile, as the EU is trying to make American tech companies play by the rules of GDPR legislation, Facebook recently responded that they may leave the EU if they cannot store Europeans’ data on American servers. Threat or promise? Many European tech startups would no doubt be thrilled to see Facebook go, hoping for a chance to create new social media platforms for European users.

2. Rise of the super apps

In Asia, ”super apps” collect many services within proprietary eco-systems. Wechat, Alipay, Grab and Gojek all compete in this space; Wechat is the front runner with over one billion monthly users and one million mini-apps on its platform. Watch out for companies like Amazon and Facebook trying to bring this ­winner-take-all trend to the West.

3. Shopping goes online

The pandemic has forced many brick-and-mortar stores to close, but according to data from IBM, this has fast-forwarded e-commerce growth by about five years. As new user groups learn to shop everything from groceries to fashion online, the pressure is on retailers to up their game, offering friction-free payments and same day delivery.

4. Games become social

Online gaming has been a refuge during the pandemic. For gamers around the world, hits like Fortnite and Animal Crossing offer more than just game mechanics. The games themselves, as well as Twitch streams, Youtube play-by-plays and Discord gaming chats, are spaces of connection and camaraderie – important forms of social media.

5. 5G changes everything

The battle for 5G supremacy may have stolen the spotlight for now, with several countries banning Huawei from their telecom infrastructure. But the more interesting news is that 5G speed (and bandwidth) changes the game for augmented reality and the internet of things. Finally, these hyped technologies have a chance to live up to our expectations.

6. Dining in  the cloud

Trends For 2021
Trends For 2021

We may not meet up with friends at the restaurant as often these days, but we still need to eat. Thus, delivery services such as Foodora and Uber Eats are keeping busy. There is also new opportunity for nimble food startups, foregoing dining spaces (and expensive rent) and instead setting up efficient kitchens and selling food online to stay-at-home diners.

7. Deeper authenticity

Our lives are increasingly cloud-based and intertwined with algorithms. Despite this – or because of it – research shows that millennials crave authenticity: real people, real connections. The race is on to solve digital identity, ensuring users can own their online identity and data. And it may be a race where blockchain tech finally wins out.

8. No hiding from Big brother

500 million surveillance cameras track the Chinese people, along with a country-wide network of human informers. The social credit program aims to create a record of the entire population’s trustworthiness. Just wait for security-minded western politicians, and managers eager to check in on their work-from-home staff, to take a page out of the Chinese playbook.

9. Deep fakes

Trends For 2021
Trends For 2021

In September, The Guardian published an op-ed on why the human race must not fear artificial intelligence. The twist? It was written by an AI. Synthetic media is not coming, it is already here. Time to get used to AI-generated text, audio and video, created by learning algorithms, powered by engines from companies including OpenAI and Deepmind.

10. Smile for the camera

We waited decades for video chat to take off, in schools, in the workplace and just for fun. The pandemic was the tipping point that finally made video tech like Zoom, Skype and Google Meet indispensible everyday tools. Watch this space for a burst of innovation as screen sharing and fun filters evolve into sophisticated AR applications.