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The Very Exciting Tech Business Blahs. 

To recent developments in tech business1 I say: MEH. There’s lots happening. But not finding the sizzle of cool new things or the intrigue of dramatic social change isn’t just my version of the February blahs. 

For an ardent follower of the business of technology, this lack of interest interests me, especially because it’s me who is disinterested. It’s like a hockey enthusiast turning off the TV during the Stanley Cup finals. Unfollowing your favourite influencer. Or not bothering to stock up on your favourite tea after 20 years of having one every day at 2pm. 

Something significant is afoot. 

What’s not to fascinate in:

  • Investigations, new policies and laws leading to enhanced privacy in social media and other online interactions. Privacy is now understood to be serious business, with no debate. Wonderful.
=> About time. Regulators and regulation are catching up to the 'new' business.
  • The newest darling in social media, TikTok, is a refreshing solution to issues identified with the rarified un-reality of other platforms, which can lead to unrealistic expectations of life and therefore general malaise in users. Awesomely, TikTok created a more genuine platform. 
 => A year ago, the question was how the business would make money. We now have the answer - advertising. Advertising embedded in the viewer's feed, just like many other social media, and more traditional media, businesses. Fair enough, if the business model works, it doesn't need to be fixed. 
  • Today’s metaverse applications. 
=> Augment and virtual reality have been understood as technologies for a few years, although their application has been less clear. The metaverse as it stands today seems like the offspring of an online game and social media. It potentially has the challenges of both, in terms of privacy, abuse and over-engagement. Will the future metaverse make it possible to live entirely in another reality? Science fiction movies have been made about this.
  • Speaking of virtual realities, the incredible rise in popularity of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) or as I like to think of them, rights to digital forms of intellectual property, is a little interesting. It puts back property rights removed from the ease of duplication and distribution of digital assets. Except not exactly, as many of the assets sold through the NFTs are generally available. Perhaps it is the concept of ownership that is being upset here. Or the concept of property. I concede that this is an interesting social phenomena, if the values associated with NFTs are real. 
=> Or is it the same kind of market craze as pet rocks a few decades ago and tulips a few centuries ago? Both ascribed incredible value to items that were later seen of modest value. (Not suggesting the art has modest value, just the token.)
  • Cryptocurrency is a related item (related because the enabling technology – blockchain – underlies the innovation). It has been around for a while longer than NFTs, and its legitimacy is increasing as it stands the test of time. 
 => It always seemed to me like any other form of value exchange. If people are willing to agree to a value in an asset, then it will become a vehicle to transfer value. 
  • Earnings surprises as the various players reveal their market share in advertising. 

    A business strategist would take all these things in their stride as the natural progression of business in the tech industry. The mature tech industry. 

    That’s it. 💡 All those wild and crazy revolutionary business models have reached the stage of industry maturity. We’ve spent the last 20+ years applying this thing called communication technology. Consumers get it. Businesses gets it. Politicians get it. Law-makers get it.

    Awesomely, this means there is a new era coming. I know this because I can’t see the next stage, the controversies, the emergents. New frontiers in business, in technology and society are coming.2 Now, that’s exciting. 

    1By tech business, I mean those businesses that either offer services that weren’t possible before the internet and associated technologies, such as the pure plays like social media or video conferencing, or radically changed traditional businesses like retail that Amazon has transformed or ride hailing that Uber transformed.

    2. I am not the first to predict this. Theorists have built on Joseph Shumpeter’s Innovation Cycle ideas to predict 2020 as the beginning of a new era of technical innovation. Here’s a good overview and example . I’m excited because I can now see it in my observations of the tech business world. 

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