When Macklemore & Ryan Lewis reached the #1 spot in the Billboard 100 chart with Thrift Shop, it was the first time in nearly 20 years that this had happened without the support of a record label. Yes, it was partially because it’s a song which struck a chord with the public due to its catchy tune and humorous subject matter, and partially because Macklemore is a “Cold-Ass Honkey” (his words). But more importantly it also signals a shift in how people are consuming music. Consumers are now choosing what they listen to more than before, where record label finances could influence what would be on the airways, music channels, magazines and shops. However, when consumers choose what to watch on youtube and spotify and then share this directly with friends on social networks, independent artists can develop a strong following only through making sure their message is original and well crafted.
7. Travel: Commercial Space flight
Watch the skies on December 25, 2013. There will be a man famous for his red outfits and white hair flying at hundreds of kilometers an hour right above you. No, it’s not Santa, it will be Sir Richard Branson aboard the first public space flight of his Virgin Galactic service. This will be the start of public access to space tourism, although at a price of approximately $250,000 per ticket, it’s still out of reach for most people. This will likely always be a niche market plaything for the elite, however it makes the list because it once again breaks one of the fundamental barrier to what is possible for the everyday person.
6. Logistics: Amazon Sunday delivery
Amazon has continued to push the boundaries of what customer can expect, as far as selection, pricing and convenience. They have continued to get closer to their customers by building huge warehouses nearer metropolitan areas. However, the last mile of delivery between Amazon and customer has relied on other logistics providers. And they have always refused to deliver on Sunday, because that’s how it has always been. Until Amazon made a deal with the US Post Office for deliveries on Sunday in certain cities, with other cities planned for the coming months. What isn’t widely known is that the USPS actually offers this service to any shipper, but Amazon is the first to bring it out on a large scale. It makes our list because it’s another great example of adjusting a business model with a willing partner to give customers the experience they want.
5. Mobile: 4G LTE in the UK
Being based in the UK, we have had to wait impatiently for 4G LTE services to roll out through the major carriers, which due to government sales of spectrum access didn’t happen until September 2013, years after similar access was available in other developed countries and even a number of developing countries. However, what this means is that now UK citizens have mobile broadband access which is faster than the average home broadband speeds, which in most cases are still well below 10MBps. This, combined with statistics which show we are buying fewer laptops and more tablets, means that there could be a trend emerging towards eventually ditching our home broadband provider if it becomes cheaper to use the internet service from your mobile phone provider for all your tasks. This is unlikely to happen in the next year or two, but with growing demand for unlimited data LTE plans, there may be a growing population whose home broadband becomes as extinct as their home phone line.
4. Personal Tech: 3D printers
If there was one piece of electronics that got people excited in 2013, it was 3D printers. Primarily because simple models came onto the market costing less than £2,000, and a growing community of modders uploading items which can be downloaded for free and printed at home. The press got a bit overexcited, with some claiming that soon you’ll be able to print practically anything at home, really cheap.
Just hold your horses though. Yes, 3D printers have come down a lot in price, but they still have a while to go before they’re simple enough for your grandmother to use. Having recently interviewed Jon Fidler, a 3D printing consultant, its obvious that the affordable machines aren’t quite ready for mainstream yet: