On the surface, technology seems to be facing a bit of an identity crisis – yet, it’s easy to see why that scenario should be impossible. The US contributes 35% of the estimated $1.8tn value of the global tech industry and, with places like Silicon Valley within its borders, technology has been virtually bulletproof since the turn of the millennium, championed by mega-corporations like Google, Apple, and Meta.
So, what’s going on?
In June of 2023, an article in The New York Times lamented the fact that reality had finally bitten tech companies in their most sensitive areas, as low-interest rates increasingly became a thing of the past. Inevitably, this meant that start-ups had a harder time getting going, and existing companies had to tighten the purse strings. The New York Times referred to this closing era as one where “free money” was available.
What’s plain now is that the industry wasn’t ready for this climate shift. Companies including Salesforce, CD Projekt Red, Microsoft, Uber, Reddit, and Spotify all made redundancies before June 2023. In total, Crunchbase claims that more than 160,233 tech workers have been laid off in 2023, compared to 93,000 last year. Yet, this might seem odd, given that it’s still possible to find companies in the same niches doing well.
A good example involves food delivery apps. San Francisco-based company Uber hasn’t gained any friends recently by pushing profitability over innovation so Uber Eats in particular is facing challenges from companies like SnackPass. This mix of social media and food ordering raised $70m recently and has 500,000 users despite being very much a “college thing” at present.
Metaphorical Davids usurping Goliaths could well be the theme of the current decade. For instance, many of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent inventions have fallen flat, such as the Horizon Worlds Metaverse. More to the point, Meta has only recently begun investing in AI, whereas relative newcomers OpenAI and FrameAI have reported a combined growth rate of 8,155% over the past five years.
One of the biggest struggles in tech comes from much closer to home – TV streaming. The Insider website pointed to streaming services as a bit of a spoiled cure for cable, in that it’s now basically the same fractured and expensive thing. Despite this, streaming isn’t dead. The idea still enjoys success in some quarters, especially as far as interactive entertainment is concerned.
The casino world adopted live streaming last decade to add authenticity to its online experiences and has since become one of the most popular ways to play in the space. The live mobile casino Playstar offers live blackjack, roulette, and poker in this form to players in New Jersey. Live gaming generally has real human dealers on webcam, who chaperone users through each game round.
Beyond this, the problem with streaming services is that TV networks are deliberately raising the price of ad-free subscriptions in order to push ad-supported (but still paid) versions of their platforms. This is just cable in a different outfit. Insider also reported on the increasing costs of some established services, placing streaming TV at $87 per season and a three-mile Uber ride in New York at $51.69.
Competition in tech isn’t a bad thing by any means. The question is, has the time now come for the longstanding giants to release their grip on the industry?