As we stand on the cusp of 2024, technology continues its relentless march forward, shaping how we live, work, and interact with the world around us.
Indeed, 2023 was an exciting year in tech, and some of you may enjoy my podcast from a few weeks ago, where I opined during my SmartTechCheck podcast on what I believe were last year’s most significant tech issues.
Anticipating the trends that will define the technological landscape in 2024 requires a keen understanding of current developments and foresight into the evolving needs of society. It’s no easy task because of the expansive list of hot topics to choose from.
Regardless, let’s delve into the top five technology predictions for 2024 from my vantage point. While I believe it will be difficult to argue the trends I’ve chosen, some might find the context and perspective controversial.
ARM-based PCs finally become a big deal.
As we enter 2024, the tech industry is abuzz with the anticipation of Arm-based Windows PCs becoming a significant category. Two key players poised to benefit from this transition are AMD and Qualcomm.
This shift represents a departure from the traditional x86 architecture, with Arm’s energy-efficient design offering a compelling alternative for Windows-powered devices.
Microsoft’s latest iteration of Windows 11, which runs Arm-based processors, is getting close to providing an x86-like Windows experience with little app or peripheral compatibility problems. It also provides power and battery life benefits that classic x86 processors simply can’t offer.
AMD has been at the forefront of innovation with its Zen architecture, which has proven to be a game-changer in the CPU market. The collaboration between AMD and Microsoft in embracing Arm for Windows PCs aligns with the efficiency and performance goals that both companies have been striving to achieve.
AMD’s expertise in delivering powerful yet power-efficient processors position it as a critical player in the Arm-based Windows PC landscape. Consumers can expect AMD-powered devices to provide a balance of high-performance computing and energy efficiency, catering to a diverse range of applications from gaming to productivity.
In past years, Qualcomm’s initial Snapdragon-based PCs did not capture significant market share as users and IT managers were reluctant to embrace a new class of laptops that might have app compatibility challenges and not provide sufficient performance for video and photo editing.
However, the company’s latest Snapdragon X Elite processors are showing promising performance and battery life results (in the same ballpark as what Apple has achieved with its M family of chips).
I fully expect customers will take notice as companies like Dell, HP, and others begin offering laptops with Qualcomm’s new processors.
Qualcomm is well-positioned to thrive in the Arm-based Windows PC era. Snapdragon processors are renowned for their energy efficiency and integration of advanced connectivity features.
As Windows PCs increasingly emphasize mobility and connectivity, Qualcomm’s expertise in delivering efficient, connected solutions makes them a natural fit for the ARM architecture. The Snapdragon-powered Windows PCs will likely excel in always-on connectivity, extended battery life, and seamless integration with 5G networks, enhancing the overall user experience.
As Arm-based Windows PCs gain prominence in 2024, AMD and Qualcomm stand out as beneficiaries of this transformative shift.
These chipmakers’ commitment to advancing processor technology aligns with the demands of an evolving market, offering consumers a new era of Windows computing characterized by enhanced performance, energy efficiency, and seamless connectivity.
The democratization of AI solutions will accelerate, especially with PCs.
AMD and Qualcomm stand to gain significantly as the technology sector eagerly awaits the rise of Arm-based Windows PCs as key new devices in the market. This transition signifies a departure from the traditional x86 architecture, positioning these companies at the forefront of this evolving landscape.
What used to be the province that only large government agencies or even countries that could afford or fund these types of programs, AI-based data is fueling the kind of supercomputing power at a lower cost, unthinkable just a few years ago.
Enabled by its Instinct MI300 Series accelerators, AMD is embracing an industry standards approach that allows it to provide a stronger value proposition from a pricing standpoint versus companies like Nvidia, which is a leader in this space but tends to have a more costly proprietary orientation.
AMD is also betting that its Ryzen AI family of Threadripper processors that enable local AI applications with its Zen architecture will broadly appeal to users. While this could be a game-changer in the CPU market, much of this will depend on Microsoft — who will carry the industry’s water on messaging — successfully convincing users that AI truly matters at the PC level.
This process will take a long time as PC OEMs often fragment their messaging on big innovation topics, unlike Apple, which speaks in a singular voice.
Regardless, the collaboration between AMD and Microsoft in embracing Arm for Windows PCs aligns with the efficiency and performance goals that both companies have been striving to achieve. AMD’s expertise in delivering powerful yet power-efficient processors positions the company as a critical player in the Arm-based Windows PC landscape.
Consumers can expect AMD-powered devices to provide a balance of high-performance computing and energy efficiency, catering to a diverse range of applications from gaming to productivity.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chips bring significant benefits from an AI standpoint. These advanced chips leverage AI-enhanced capabilities to optimize network performance, ensuring efficient data transmission and connectivity.
Integrating machine learning algorithms enhances the overall user experience by predicting network conditions, reducing latency, and improving the reliability of AI applications on mobile devices. The Snapdragon X Elite chips thus contribute to a seamless and intelligent AI-driven connectivity experience, positioning Qualcomm at the forefront of mobile AI innovation.
As Arm-based Windows PCs gain prominence in 2024, AMD and Qualcomm stand out as beneficiaries of this transformative shift. Their commitment to advancing processor technology aligns with the demands of an evolving market, offering consumers a new era of Windows computing characterized by enhanced performance, energy efficiency, and seamless connectivity.
Intel, a once-dominant force in the tech industry, especially during the 1990s and early 2000s, is facing new challenges despite its recent foray into AI-based CPU technology.
Although Intel continues to possess significant market share in the PC industry, which positions it potentially as a key player in AI-enabled laptops and desktops, the company seems to be grappling with issues related to vision and overall user excitement.
Given the current financial pressures and evolving market dynamics, it raises questions about Intel’s ability to meet these new challenges effectively. This shift in Intel’s market position reflects the rapidly changing landscape of the technology sector, where innovation and adaptability are crucial. It’s not 2002 anymore.
The maturation of 5G continues, transforming connectivity.
The benefits hyperbole of 5G that began in 2018 was clumsy and ham-fisted in many ways. The initial rollout of 5G faced several challenges, contributing to an inelegant launch. Infrastructure deployment complexities, varying global standards, and the need for significant investments hampered a smooth transition.
Issues like limited device availability and inconsistent coverage led to a fragmented user experience. Coordinating efforts across telecom operators and addressing compatibility concerns further complicated the early stages of 5G implementation, resulting in a less-than-ideal and somewhat disjointed launch.
But things are getting a lot brighter, which could finally unleash the potential of 5G.
The rollout of 5G networks has begun, ushering in faster and more reliable connectivity. In 2024, anticipate the widespread maturation of 5G technology, enabling a seamless and interconnected world.
Beyond faster smartphone internet speeds, 5G will underpin the growth of the internet of things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, and smart cities.
Integrating 5G into various industries will lead to enhanced capabilities, such as real-time remote surgeries, augmented reality experiences, and smart infrastructure management.
Moreover, research into 6G technology will likely gain momentum, setting the stage for even faster and more efficient communication systems in the latter half of the decade.
The global sustainability movement is shown to have goofed by myopically focusing on EVs.
Hybrid cars represent a pragmatic transitional choice for steering the automotive industry away from traditional gas-based vehicles, providing a middle ground that addresses immediate environmental concerns while easing the shift towards fully electric vehicles (EVs).
There are several reasons why hybrids might have been a more sensible option during this transitional phase.
Hybrid-based cars offer a gradual shift towards cleaner transportation without requiring an extensive infrastructure overhaul. Unlike fully electric vehicles, hybrids can rely on existing gas stations and refueling infrastructure, making them more convenient for consumers and reducing the pressure on rapid charging network development.
Next, one of the primary concerns with early electric vehicles is range anxiety due to limited charging infrastructure and the time it takes to recharge. Hybrids alleviate this concern by incorporating an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. This dual power source provides a safety net, ensuring drivers won’t be stranded if they exceed the electric range.
Environmentally, while hybrids still rely on internal combustion engines, their integration of electric propulsion reduces overall emissions and improves fuel efficiency. This incremental reduction in environmental impact allows for a more gradual transition away from traditional gas-based vehicles, providing manufacturers and consumers time to adapt without sacrificing immediate gains in fuel efficiency.
Finally, there is the subject of cost. Without substantial tax subsidies at the state and federal levels, EVs are a challenging value proposition for most consumers. Subsidy-free EVs cost $60,000 or more, limiting their appeal to many consumers.
Hybrids often come with a lower upfront cost compared to fully electric vehicles. This affordability makes them a more accessible option for a broader range of consumers, encouraging a faster uptake and contributing to a more widespread reduction in emissions. Generally, the cost difference between a hybrid-based car versus a gasoline-only powered cost is approximately $5,000.
Focusing on hybrid cars as a transitional step offers a practical and balanced approach to moving away from traditional gas-based vehicles. By addressing concerns related to infrastructure, range anxiety, environmental impact, and cost, hybrids pave the way for a smoother and more inclusive transition towards a more sustainable automotive future.
Unfortunately, the myopic focus on EVs has turned off many consumers, proving once again that indifference to addressing the challenges above with EVs has backfired as hybrids have represented a much more reasonable approach to transition the auto industry.
Apple’s credibility will be put to the test when Vision Pro finally ships.
Extended reality (XR), encompassing virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), is set to redefine how we experience the digital and physical worlds.
XR technologies will mature in 2024, offering more immersive and interactive experiences. From virtual meetings and remote collaboration to augmented reality applications in education and training, XR will bridge the gap between the digital and physical realms.
Whether Apple likes it or not, the company will become the poster child for the future success or failure of the entire AR/VR category once Vision Pro begins shipping in the February or March timeframe (if the industry rumors are true).
As I’ve maintained before, Apple’s “spatial computing” approach will depend mainly on the “killer” app getting developed, which I believe will not come from Apple.
The gaming industry, in particular, will see a surge in XR integration, creating more lifelike and engaging virtual worlds. Additionally, XR will find applications in health care, allowing for advanced medical simulations and remote patient monitoring. As the technology evolves, XR will play an increasingly vital role in enhancing our understanding of and engagement with the world around us.
Unquestionably, AI is poised to become an integral part of our daily lives in 2024, transcending its role as a behind-the-scenes technology. Advances in natural language processing and computer vision will make AI more accessible and user-friendly, leading to a more intuitive and humanized interaction with technology.
AI will continue to play a pivotal role in health care diagnostics, personalized education, and content creation. Conversational AI, powered by sophisticated language models, will redefine customer service and automate various business processes. However, as AI becomes more omnipresent, ethical considerations surrounding data privacy, bias, and accountability will demand increased attention and regulation.
2024 promises to be a pivotal year in technology, with the emergence of AI-based PCs and the ripening of 5G, AI, and AR/VR/XR emerging as the driving forces behind transformative change.
As these innovations unfold, the challenge will be to navigate the ethical and societal implications, ensuring that we harness the benefits of technology for the greater good.
The future is exciting, and as we embrace these technological advancements, we must also remain vigilant in shaping a future that is sustainable and conducive to the well-being of humanity.