Future of Tech and Media: Waging a War for People’s Time

October 18, 2017

Excerpts from an article by Eliot Brown in The Wall Street Journal

The war for tech supremacy is moving to newer technologies such as augmented reality and voice assistants, as giant internet companies grasp for an ever-fleeting portion of people’s time.

That is the tech and media outlook presented Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ D.Live technology conference by Michael J. Wolf, co-founder and managing director of the consulting firm Activate Inc.

Alphabet Inc., Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and others are hunting for new areas of growth—often on each other’s turf—as they enjoy soaring revenues and stock prices. They are poised to bump into each other across the board, in online sports viewing, movies, news and even podcasting.

Up for grabs is an extra $300 billion a year in revenues that Activate projects will flow into the $1.7 trillion global consumer media and internet market by 2021, through growing internet-access fees, ads and paid content. Activate estimates the market will grow 4.1% a year.

“Everybody’s trying to get into everybody else’s space because what they’re really fighting for is somebody’ else’s time,” said Mr. Wolf, a former Yahoo Inc. board member, in an interview before his presentation.

The most fertile ground is the digital voice assistant found in smart speakers and smartphones.

Between Amazon’s Alexa, Alphabet’s Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, the internet giants are rushing to make more advanced products that could prove crucial to controlling consumers’ searches, their homes and habits, and even how they buy products. Sales of smart speakers, though, will likely peak in 2019, Mr. Wolf said, as the voice interface breaks free of the devices.

“The real war is about who gets to win the digital assistant and the voice interface,” Mr. Wolf said. “It’s an existential threat to each of the major technology companies.”

Read the full article on The Wall Street Journal

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