Three companies drive direction when it comes to technology in North America: Google, Amazon, and Apple. Yes, there is the infamous FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) and there are amazing companies such as Alibaba, but the drive is coming from three.
In this article, you will see why Google, Amazon, and Apple are our 2020 Trend Creators.
Google’s focus for 2020
Did you Google something today? For many, Google.com is the first page you open on your browser, whether on your phone or laptop. What will drive innovation in 2020 will come down to three key areas: services (through the cloud), artificial intelligence, and hardware.
Google continues to invest heavily in the deep catalog of services offered through its cloud. Google’s continued investment in cloud is a big boon to developers, giving us quick and easy access to multiple services at a reasonable price. For Google, it provides them with an alternative revenue stream.
AI is another critical area of focus for Google. Tools such as Google Maps, Android Assistant, Gmail, and Google Docs become more useful with AI. Besides, the leading AI frameworks, such as TensorFlow, dominate how developers can easily include AI in their applications. 2020 will be the year that Google makes AI a crucial part of your daily lifestyle.
Finally, Google also does hardware. While hardware is a space that Google has struggled with—consider the Pixel phone, Google Home, and Nest—2020 is going to be different. Toward the end of 2019, Google acquired FitBit, the world’s leading health device maker, and we can expect Google Cloud Services, AI, and FitBit hardware to come together this coming year. Smart Health will be the new watchword from Google.
Amazon’s focus for 2020
More than 50 percent of all online purchases in the United States are made through Amazon. It’s a staggering number. Still, there are three areas that Amazon will focus on in 2020 that will surpass what they’re doing with online purchases. The three areas to watch are search, cloud, and hardware.
It may seem odd to invest in search technologies when Google is so dominant with Bing as a distant #2. The exciting approach Amazon is taking with search is not to search the web but to make it easier to find products on their online store. The supplementing search is advertising space sales. The genius move is that if you are searching for a product on Amazon, then you are already in a frame of mind to make a purchase. There’s no need to go to a web site and then click to add a product to the shopping cart. With Amazon Search, you are already in the shopping cart. For this reason, Amazon’s new ad business has quickly risen to the #3 ad company (in size), after Google and Facebook. I expect that Amazon will draw away significant business from both Facebook and Google throughout 2020.
AWS cloud services is a juggernaut of a company. The growth of AWS appears almost unstoppable. So, don’t expect it to stop in 2020. During 2020 you will see the continued growth of cloud services but also plan to see low-code services to emerge. AWS’s complexity is a barrier to many people. The introduction of low-code tools that enable us mere mortals to harness the power of AWS will set the next phase of AWS adoption in the enterprise.
Finally, hardware also is a space in which Amazon is doing very well. From the Kindle to Alexa-powered speakers, Amazon has devices that are powerful and very cheap. Expect Amazon to expand its hardware line in 2020 with tools you want in your home. I recently bought the Amazon Smart Convection / Microwave Oven. I now talk to my oven and it feels very natural.
Apple’s focus for 2020
The end of 2019 signaled the end of an era for Apple. Johnny Ive, the man who led the team who designed the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and all of Apple’s products for the last 20 years, has left Apple. Will they be able to continue their winning streak?
In short: Yes. Apple has three areas of focus over the next few years: health, ease of use, and replacing the iPhone.
The Apple Watch is Apple’s first product, which places a focus on health. Released as a competitor to FitBit’s products, the Apple Watch is now the #1 smartwatch. Its top features all revolve around health: step counting, standing, exercise, heart rate, and many more features. Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly stated that health and wellness are key focus points for Apple. There is a good reason for this. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the health and wellness industry is now worth more than $4.2 trillion. This is a big fish for Apple to go after. In 2020, expect more health features to be added to Apple products.
The second area of focus for Apple will be ease of use. It has been a hallmark of Apple to develop tools that anyone can use. In many ways, however, the additional power added to products such as the iPhone has resulted in more sophisticated software. The latest release of iOS 13 is a reset on simplicity over features. Expect to see that continue in 2020. Maybe Apple will finally change the remote control for the Apple TV?
Finally, the big challenge for Apple is to replace the iPhone. Nearly 50 percent of all revenue Apple receives is from the iPhone. The problem for Apple is that they build great products. There is no need to replace a phone every year when the one you have is still great. For Apple to continue to grow, they need to start laying down the foundation for a product that will replace the iPhone. The Apple Developer conference in May and then their annual hardware release in September will provide clues into what lies ahead for Apple.
Emerging Trend Creators
Two companies are notably absent from this article, but let’s take pause and review how Microsoft and Facebook will impact 2020.
Microsoft is choosing to invest in two key areas that are driving massive profits for the company: cloud services and open source. Microsoft’s flagship product, Office, is now fully migrated to the cloud. In many ways, Office.com is now a poster child for cloud and DevOps delivery with hundreds of updates each year and almost no impact experienced to the millions of users. Microsoft’s purchase of GitHub is a doubling down effect of Microsoft’s commitment to open source. Expect to see more of both in 2020.
Facebook is an exciting company. Between WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook.com, Facebook can connect one-third of the planet. No company ever could reach so many people instantly. Unfortunately, their success is tarnished by questionable uses of their platform. However, Facebook has the potential to increase its influence on how content is created and shared and drive the daily zeitgeist in 2020.
The Trillion Dollar Club
We live in a capitalist society, and our benchmark for success is wealth. To this end, two of the five companies covered in this article are in an exclusive club: the Trillion-Dollar Market Capitalization Club. Market capitalization is not a true reflection of wealth; what it does show is a perception of wealth. Apple and Microsoft continue to double down on R&D (research and design) with the results coming forward as smartwatches that can call 911 if you fall and knock yourself out and AI that dramatically improves your grammar.
Amazon has flirted with joining the Trillion Dollar Club in 2019, but 2020 will be the year it becomes a firm member. Google will follow as it grows its cloud business and truly breaks out an alternative revenue stream apart from ads. Facebook is a question mark. The lack of social morals from Facebook is now impacting the company’s ability to grow. If Facebook can successfully break from its past, then the company has the potential for what seems like unlimited growth.
The $1T mark is impressive, but each of these companies is reaching this marker through a blend of software, hardware, and services that are critical to our everyday lives. Oil, the black gold of the 20th Century, has been replaced by silicon.