1. Facebook Famous
Facebook's app constellation strategy has gotten a lot of attention over the last few years, as the company has experimented with a series of standalone apps outside the main Facebook app. Yet so far, Messenger remains the strategy's only real success.
A common prediction is that Facebook will release a standalone video app, as 2015 saw it start to compete with YouTube as a video-based content platform. But we don't believe this will happen in 2016. Instead, we predict that Facebook will expand the roll out its standalone live-streaming app, Facebook Live. Live is already available for public figures and celebrities, but 2016 will see Facebook open Live to the masses, enabling it to compete with Meerkat, Periscope, YouNow, Twitch and YouTube in livestreaming.
The popularity of these existing platforms have proven that livestreaming has value. Now Facebook will tap into its massive network to try to make it the source for the best livestreaming content. Facebook's existing celebrity network will be a huge resource at launch, but in order for Live to succeed, it will have to create celebrities who are native to the platform.
So far, Facebook hasn't done a good job enabling its top content producers to become stars through Facebook. Currently, there is no such thing as a "Facebook Celebrity." Most Internet celebrities are born on other platforms, such as YouTube, Vine, Instagram or Snapchat. Livestreaming can be Facebook's entry ticket into this club. With the general rollout of Facebook Live, we'll see our first crop of stars who are "Facebook Famous."
2. Twitter, the Lost Child
Twitter is a lost child in a forest without a compass. The root of the problem is that nobody wants to innovate on top of Twitter anymore because it has beaten up its developer community for years. There's a wealth of ideas and innovation out there, but none of it is coming Twitter's way.
So what should Twitter do? It's our prediction that in 2016 Twitter will create a separate experience outside of your Twitter feed. The network has a strong experience for highly engaged users, but it still doesn't have a strong value proposition for casual users. The company has bet heavily on Moments, including running its first TV ad campaign to promote the feature, but this isn't enough to keep the attention of casual users.
The big problem is that Twitter's discovery experience is terrible. Moments helps surface some content that revolve around bigger events, but finding relevant, interesting content on Twitter is still too difficult. Like Facebook before it, Twitter needs to find its Newsfeed--a way to immediately surface personalized, relevant content every time you log in. Twitter's reverse-chronological feed is too haphazard and doesn't scale for quality. In 2016, we'll see an increasingly under pressure Twitter sacrifice its sacred cow and experiment more with breaking up the feed. By incentivizing the right type of externalized innovation, they can regain the developer community's trust again and discover the right experience. By the time next year rolls around, Twitter will look very different than it does today to the average user.
3. Google Can Lead Improved App Discovery
App discovery is still in its infancy. Apple and Google's respective app stores worked great when they first started, but as each platform has grown to include millions of apps, basic search, category rankings and scant editorial selection just don't cut it anymore.
As a result, while it's getting easier to make an app, acquiring users is becoming more and more difficult. Your home screen can only fit so many apps.
Ultimately, app usage needs to be snackable. Films have trailers. Songs are easy to preview. But so far apps have no equivalent. A 50mb download to try a new app is not snackable. Enter app streaming, which will pick up steam in 2016.
Google launched app streaming on a limited scale in 2015, and it will continue rolling out this feature in the coming year. Can Google use its first mover advantage to put new pressure on Apple?
Other players will emerge too. We may even see a "YouTube for apps" by the end of the year that will make finding apps a lot more like how we discover and interact with other content, via instant consumption, public curation, and community.
4. The One-Person Unicorn
Building technology is increasingly becoming like building with Legos. At Applico, we're always evaluating the latest modular technology, allowing developers to stand up a feature like chat or on-demand workforce tracking with a few simple command lines. The number of tools, services and platforms one can use to launch a viable global business is incredible. And most of these services are now easily cloud accessible via APIs.
By combining these modular scalable services with the growth potential of platforms and networks, we believe that 2016 will bring us something we've never seen before: the one-person unicorn startup with a billion dollar plus valuation.
Okay, maybe not one person, but definitely fewer than five. This startup will certainly be pre-revenue, as building a bizdev/sales organization takes time and people. That handful of founders will dangle the promise of their vision, growth and revenue potential to VCs. The ideas are out there. Who will it be?
5. On-Demand but Out of Business
As 2015 comes to a close, we've already had a few big casualties in the on-demand economy. The latest to go down is Sidecar, a would-be Uber competitor, which announced on December 29th that it's shutting down its business at the end of the year. With Uber consolidating its lead and Lyft bringing up the rear, there is little room for a third player in the industry in any given location. No one wants to be the "Window's Phone" in Uber and Lyft's fight for market share. Without a monopoly position in an industry, it's difficult for a platform to become profitable.
In 2016, we'll see even more on-demand businesses fall as consolidation continues. Top industry candidates here are home services (where we already saw Homejoy kick the bucket in 2015), delivery and transportation, and healthcare.
These industries will likely see one or two dominant platforms emerge (if they haven't already), and the also-rans will get acquired, go out of business as funding starts to dry up and users churn, or the worst scenario, stagnate on life-support indefinitely.