India-born blogger Om Malik is one of the most influential voices in technology today. The 48-year-old technology writer founded Giga Om, a widely read weblog on technology and web matters (he has 1.4 million followers on Twitter). Apart from journalism, Om is a partner at True Ventures, which calls itself an early-stage investor in technology, consumer devices, infrastructure services and media start-ups. A St Stephen’s graduate in chemistry, Om retains his connect with India, visiting his family home in Delhi’s Old Rajinder Nagar regularly. Arindam Mukherjee caught up with Om during his year-end vacation in New York. In between having “too good a time”, Om took some questions on technology trends in 2015. Excerpts:
Social networking is morphing rapidly from text to voice to video. What can we expect in this space in 2015? With better connectivity like 4G, will video be a de facto mode of personal communication?
Video is still a few more years from becoming a de facto mode of communication. Messaging, short voice messages, photo and some video are going to be good for now. Remember, not everyone has equal bandwidth, and video has an unsolved challenge—ease of use.
Instagram and Snapchat have seen a meteoric rise this year. Is this the tech story of 2014 and does it have legs? Is Twitter’s fantastic run on the wane?
The proliferation of visual sensors is becoming extreme and it is having a far-reaching impact. The camera phone is the most prevalent visual sensor and look at how it is changing things. It is pretty clear we have entered the visual web and we are going to see more photos come online—and no, I don’t think this is a temporary thing. On Twitter, it will embrace photos and visual web ever more tightly in the near future.
With a lacklustre response to Messenger, has Facebook lost the game with younger users?
“It is pretty clear we have entered the visual web and we are going to see more photos come online.”
Five hundred million users—I don’t think it is a lacklustre response to Messenger. It is easy for folks to say they are not doing well, but they are some of the most engaging apps for now. That said, Facebook is facing the challenge every web company faces—their audience grows with the service. They are starting to make enough money that they can afford to be risk-taking in their growth and desire to woo the new generation. If they don’t succeed they still have room to grow into new markets.
There has been a lukewarm response to smart watches. Is there a market at all for smart watches beyond Apple’s brand value?
Hard to say anything about Apple Watch till it comes to market, and is in my hand. I do think it will have an impact and will change our expectations of smart watches, which till now admittedly are poorly designed and not something I would wear as part of my daily life.
Finally, for all the talk about the demise of print, will 2015 see the slow death of the era of beamdown fixed-time TV?
I have not watched beamdown TV since 2008, so for me all TV is on-demand, on-IP and stateless—I want to watch it on whatever screen that is easily available. I am sure in a few years the world would catch up, but 2015 isn’t it.