Leading global analyst firm Gartner has released its annual Hype Cycle report and it's thought provoking to see where these high-end specialists think various emerging technologies are in their path to mainstream adoption. Tablets, microblogging, cloud computing, machine/brain interfaces (!) and many more are included in this year's report. Gartner believes that emerging technologies get hyped, overhyped, then face crashing disillusionment and are later finally understood as productive, mainstream parts of the world.
Companies around the world pay $2,000 to read in-depth annual reports about the viability of each of these particular markets. Then they make buying and development decisions based on what they read. What do you think of this year's assessments?
A few thoughts off the top of my head:
- Computer-Brain Interfaces are more than 10 years out. That's good. I'm not looking forward to the malware, the remote accessing, etc.
- Media tablets are still 2 to 5 years from mainstream adoption? Disappointment is coming? That's a little hard to accept, since the iPad alone is now the fastest-adopted consumer technology in history.
- Autonomous vehicles still 10 years out? This chart is as of August 2010, but Google unveiled its self-driving cars this week. Think those are going to stay in the labs for a decade? I don't.
- Augmented Reality is 5-10 years out, still set to hype more before disappointment? I feel disappointed by it now, unless we're talking about a broader definition of the term. Technology that augments our experience of reality? I'm not sure which technologies don't do that, but give me information about my surroundings and I'm happy. Make me look through my phone's camera to see it and I'm much less happy.
For a very good analysis of this from the pro-Augmented Reality camp, see Chris Arkenberg's blog post on this year's Hype Cycle. Included there are these thoughts:
While truly valuable & interesting work is happening in AR, particularly among university researchers, European factories, and the Dutch, the public mind only sees the gimmicks and the hype. As with virtual reality (now subtly re-branded as "virtual worlds" as if they're embarrassed of those heady days of hope & hype), augmented reality cannot possibly live up to all the expectations set for it in time to meet the immediate gratification needs of the marketplace. Evangelists, pundits, marketers, and advertisers all feed the hype cycle while the developers & strategists keep their heads down toiling to plumb the foundations.
Arkenberg calls on AR vendors to build things like a visualization layer for the Smarter Planet. Now that's a cool idea.
- Activity Streams are 2 to 5 years out and at the hight of their hype right now? Gartner doesn't explain what an Activity Stream is. Do they mean the Activity Streams technical standard for user activity data on social networks? I suspect they mean something more like the News Feed, ala Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and almost every other social web interface. I can see that facing disappointment if people feel overwhelmed with information, but don't you think that model is mainstream by now? 600 million people use Facebook.
What do you think of this year's Hype Cycle? Are there assertions here that you agree strongly with or disagree with? What do you think about the prospect of decision-makers throughout the business world being told that these are the states of various emerging technologies?
Garnter is the world's dominant technology analyst firm, but it does face some criticism as well. Analyst industry analysts Sage Circle wrote this Spring, for example, that "Gartner is not serious about social media."
Gartner management has exhibited disdain for social media through its token deployment of the Gartner Blog Network and choosing not to encourage participation by analysts. While Gartner's Q1 2010 earnings were strong, this growth was based on its traditional strengths of a large sales force and dominant IT market awareness. However, a lack of social media presence could be a significant liability in the mid-term as competitors use social media to eat at Gartner's brand, sales, and client retention.
That's just about the marketing implications - substantial harm is likely to be done to the research capacity of analysts who aren't participating where so much conversation among specialists is emerging.
What do you think of this year's big picture conclusions?
Just for reference, here's last year's below, which we covered in much more detail.