We are in the midst of the greatest technological revolution of all time. After years in its nascent stages, the internet has become a critical fixture in all aspects of our lives. High-tech turning high-touch, to borrow a phrase from futurist John Naisbitt, has become our reality. All one needs to do is visit any big box electronics store to see shelves full of all the internet-connected devices designed to help make our lives easier.
The following five trends are where smart investors are putting their money this year.
I was fortunate enough to receive the Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) Echo as a Christmas gift. Though I first believed that this "talking speaker" named Alexa was nothing more than a gimmick, I soon discovered otherwise. The voice recognition is uncannily accurate, and can be used to access dozens of apps for a wide variety of tasks. Echo also provides an unbelievable music listening experience despite the small size of the speaker.
Currently, I am using Amazon Echo to play music, adjust the temperature in my home, turn on and adjust the TV, and even get stock quotes, all by simply using my voice. Among the things I want to try soon are the voice grocery and Amazon ordering features. I firmly think that this device is the start of total voice automation of nearly everything.
Soon all home appliance makers will be including technology to interface with the Echo and other voice command products. At the same time, Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Cortana and Alphabet's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Home have arisen as competitors.
At this point, however, there's no question that Amazon currently has upper hand over the competitors in early acceptance and infrastructural capabilities.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all vying to be the leading live mobile video platform. Soon-to-go-public Snapchat is hot on their heels with over 10 billion video views daily. We see more and more primetime news coverage using these live feeds from regular people. This trend is only getting stronger and the sector more competitive as time goes by. On the back of this explosion, mobile data providers have been forced to up their data plans for smartphones across the board. T-Mobile (Nasdaq: TMUS) and Sprint (NYSE: S) are both keeping ahead of the curve by offering unlimited data plans at reasonable prices to accommodate the massive increase in data usage.
Due to the uncertain and highly competitive nature of the mobile video, my picks are Sprint and T-Mobile as the best stocks to buy to ride this trend. No matter who wins the war, everyone needs the backbone of mobile data to operate.
This is perhaps the most science fiction-sounding of all the major trends for 2017. Augmented reality is a live view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as maps, video, or sound. The first large-scale commercial attempt to capture this trend was Google Glass. These glasses projected a computer screen near your eye but were too rudimentary to catch on with the public despite the massive amount of Google-promoted hype.
The latest attempts at augmented reality were the Pokemon Go game and Snap Spectacles. While both have gained a cult following, it is way too early to determine if either will be a long-term success. Several of my venture capital friends are focusing on the idea before the companies going public. One of the most exciting startups, and one getting tremendous attention and funding, is Magic Leap. I have been fortunate enough to witness some of their technology, and it may be world-changing. Keep a close eye on this company!
Despite Microsoft coming to market with their HoloLens and Google working on improving Glass, I do not think the trend is ready yet for most investors' portfolios. But be patient and track developments carefully because it soon will be.
Once just a dream of futurists, self-driving cars will soon be a mass- produced reality. Driver-assist options are already nearly standard across most major automakers. Uber has successfully launched a pilot program with driverless cars in Pittsburgh, proving the concept. I like Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) and Nvidia (Nasdaq: NVDA) as stable investments in the robot car trend.
Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is the ability of computers to make decisions and learn independently. Big data and capacity to process is the backbone of the AI trend, placing Google at the forefront of the AI revolution. Its neural machine translation system is simply a fantastic example of what we can expect in the future from the artificial intelligence trend.
Action To Take: Keep up with StreetAuthority for the latest on these emerging tech trends and the best ways to profit from them.
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