Another year, another iPhone with minimal changes. Virtually identical to the 2017 design except for the flat edges, the iPhone 12 that Apple recently announced doesn’t surprise. It pleases, but it doesn’ dazzle. 5G and a series of back magnets, named MagSafe, complete the highlights of a device that will sell well, but that won’t do anything to push the envelope.
Is there anything else Apple can do with the iPhone of the future? Of course: a high-frequency display, more and better cameras, eliminate “the notch”, resuscitate Touch ID… all iterative improvements. Fun for some, boring for most.
Capitol Hill, Seattle. That’s the location of the most futuristic supermarket on the planet, the Amazon Go Grocery store. Today it opened its doors to the general public for the first time, and this was my experience.
We are now close to the end of an important decade for technology, a decade that started without many of the innovations that today we consider part of the norm. Artificial intelligence at home, self-driving cars, wearable devices, supercomputers in our pockets… the 2010s not only changed the technology we use, but also how we communicate and think. Privacy has never been so critical as a selling point, and information bubbles have never been so polarizing. Today, we are at a turning point in the tech industry; it’s not clear what’s going to be the next revolutionary tech segment, or how companies are going to keep convincing customers to upgrade their various devices.
So what happened in the last ten years? How did we get here? The following areas have experienced substantial changes since 2010, making our lives considerably better in some cases, while taking a few surprising turns in some others. This is the first of a series of two posts that take a look back at a decade of tech evolution.
In early October 2019, Microsoft borrowed a page from Apple’s keynote playbook and gave us a “one more thing” that nobody expected: a dual-screen Android-powered smartphone. Microsoft announced its return to the smartphone market with the Surface Duo (although they officially said “it’s not a smartphone, it’s a Surface”).
The reveal was surprising given that this is the first Android device ever produced by the software giant. It is not supposed to go on sale until late 2020, but the few minutes of footage that were shown mean a big deal for Microsoft. Here’s why.
As a product manager, it is critical to have a meaningful roadmap with a backlog of work. Being able to ideate and constantly iterate makes our products better. However, it is critical that we are able to find which of our ideas are going to be the most impactful ones. Over the past year, my team has been working on refining how we approach this and found some things work better than others. The following are some of the things we found really useful.
1.Understand the goal – the first thing you must do is to really understand what is the goal you and the business are trying to achieve. If there is any misalignment you must align before continuing. It was amazing how many times we went and implemented things where the goal was not understood, or it was misaligned. Having understood this from the beginning would have saved us a lot of time and resources. Understanding the goal will take you to different paths, for example, a goal of driving adoption will lead you to do different things than driving for revenue or usage. If you do not understand this, you will cycle and leave things to chance.
Almost a year ago, Amazon unveiled in Seattle the first store offering no checkout lines, no cashiers, and almost no human interaction: Amazon Go. I reviewed the store the very first day it opened and I wrote about my experience and the many tests I did on that first visit. I called it “the future of retail” on my review.
Since that chilling Seattle night in January, Amazon opened a few more Go stores across the U.S. and even started experimenting with a smaller fully-unattended version. Other industry players have also been making progress, and when Microsoft and Kroger announced that they were testing a futuristic grocery store, I knew I had to try it.
Every time I go back home to Spain, I spend a considerable amount of time tuning up my family’s devices. My mom’s Surface is stuck on some big update, my dad’s phone doesn’t have the Weather app that he wants, etc. Technology nowadays is more complicated than it should be, and older generations are not usually well equipped to troubleshoot issues. Nonetheless, most tech companies are working towards a future without complicated user interfaces, a future controlled by natural language commands that even a 5 year old can master. Artificial intelligence is at the center of this future.
Eric Migicovsky is a Partner at Y Combinator, one of the top of U.S. startup accelerators, and he was previously Founder and CEO at Pebble, the company that created the first commercially successful smartwatch. Last Friday, he was interviewed by Adora Cheung (another YC Partner) on being an entrepreneur at the intersection of hardware and software. Here you can read a summary of my five biggest takeaways.