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Crystal Ball 2015 - tech predictions for the year ahead

Each January, technology journalists and industry commentators are keen to share their predictions for the year ahead. What will be the big tech trends and developments in 2015? Here is our round-up of the best of the pundits’ guesses.

1. Smart phones get smarter

Smart phones have got much better at pinpointing where we are, even when we’re inside a building, by using Wi-Fi triangulation and Bluetooth signals. GP Bullhound expects many companies to exploit this in 2015, launching mobile services that provide location-specific information. The technology presents obvious opportunities for retailers and advertisers, but there will also be plenty of business applications. Some companies are already guiding guests to the right meeting room using a location app.

It’s also likely that 2015 will see the rise of services that allow us to make payments at the point of sale using our phones. In the States, 15% of purchases in Starbucks outlets are already made using this technology, and the October 2014 launch of Apple’s payment service is bound to be a step towards ubiquity. However, Forbes suggests the mobile payments market’s short-term growth will be stifled by competition between different services and business models.

2. Drones take selfies to new heights

The Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas each January, provides a preview of the gadgets that will be clamouring for our attention over the coming year. According to Wired magazine, drones were a big attraction at this year’s event – in particular, drones fitted with cameras for capturing spectacular footage of scenery and sporting activity. A host of start-ups, including Airdog and Nixie, are competing in this space, and there are also rumours that sports camera giant GoPro is planning its own drone.

3. Buzzfeed grows up

The first generation who can’t recall life without internet access have helped to shape the way media is now consumed, driving the success of brands like Buzzfeed. GP Bullhound notes that this generation is now maturing, and predicts that the internet will mature with them, creating high-quality, innovative online media outlets capable of securing large, loyal audiences.

4. We all start working flexibly – from any place at any time. Or do we?

Weren’t we all supposed to be working from home by now? For most of us, the long-anticipated change in the way we work has not materialised. But Tech Radar thinks 2015 could be the year that flexible working takes hold. Mobile devices have irreversibly blurred the lines between work and home, and the availability of secure and reliable cloud computing has diminished the need to be in an office from nine to five.

However, there are also signs that we are tired of the ‘always-on’ working culture and seeking ways to escape the digital world. The Telegraph predicts the rise of the digital detox, with companies finding ways to help employees switch off from emails and the internet and focus on productivity. Google already provides mindfulness courses to its employees, and many companies have started creating technology-free office space. The Telegraph also argues that as evidence mounts that being constantly connected to work is unhealthy, employees will start to reclaim their evenings and weekends.

5. No end to end-to-end

GP Bullhound also foresees the rise of ‘technology enabled end-to-end services’ – in layman’s terms, web-based services that sit between people who have something to sell and the people who want to buy it. The best-known examples to date are probably the taxi service Uber and the short-term accommodation service Airbnb, which together are now worth more than $50bn. But similar models are springing up in a range of industries, including real estate, healthcare and leisure.

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