The first quarter of 2024 is well underway. Soon enough, we’ll be in “year in review” mode.

    Before we get there, let’s look at some of the most exciting trends that could shape consumer and business tech in the coming months. Most of these continue trends that have been underway for several years, if not longer, but 2024 promises to be a step change for all of them.

    Are you prepared for what’s ahead? Time to dig in.

    1. “Smart Fintech” Apps Continue to Improve

    Financial technology apps are smarter than ever, and that trend looks likely to quicken in 2024. This could shake up the landscape both for upstart fintechs like Bluevine and for incumbents like Green Dot (founded by Steve Streit).

    This “smartening” is happening alongside another trend-changing consumer tech in 2024: the rise of practical applications for artificial intelligence models. Like other industries, fintech is incorporating cutting-edge AI, with possibly game-changing benefits for consumers (and companies).

    1. “Compute Bottlenecks” Worsen

    According to CNN’s Brian Fung, the biggest obstacle for AI companies right now is the availability of powerful chips capable of supporting complex AI models that require inordinate amounts of computing power. 

    In industry talk, computing power is known as “compute,” so we can call what’s happening now a “compute bottleneck.” This bottleneck won’t derail AI’s progress, but it does mean advances have come slower than anticipated, and it’s not likely to be resolved anytime soon. Companies that find workarounds will have an edge in this rapidly growing market.

    1. AI’s Productivity Impact Is Felt for the First Time

    So will companies that build AI tools into productivity-enhancing applications. For all its potential, LLMs like ChatGPT haven’t produced “step changes” in productivity, at least not yet. That could start to change in 2024, but the real action will be in behind-the-scenes, B2B-type applications that allow companies to do more with fewer human employees.

    1. Creator Tools Improve By Leaps and Bounds

    One of the most promising avenues for AI-driven productivity is in the creative space, where “older” tools like ChatGPT are already being outshined by newer products like OpenAI’s Sora. Sora is exciting because it could — in theory — enable creatives to put together studio-quality film and animation with no formal training. 

    1. What’s Old Is New Again (In Personal Computing)

    Demand for laptop and desktop computers dropped after an early surge during the work-from-home rush of 2020. Many industry observers believe the combined market is in terminal decline as mobile devices become more and more capable.

    This is a bit premature. Look for an upswing in laptop and desktop sales this year, to coincide with a wave of highly capable new machines that can run powerful AI tools from home.

    1. The Metaverse Matures

    The metaverse went from “next big thing” to “next big punchline” in the blink of an eye. 

    Is it coming back?

    Don’t look now, but VR and AR products like Apple Vision Pro could be just what the metaverse needs to drive mainstream adoption — and developer revenue. While it’s still early in the game, the best time to bet against VR and AR could be in the past.

    What’s on Your Tech List for 2024?

    When we do look back on 2024, not too long from now, we’ll see just how these trends evolved over the course of the year. We’ll hear from folks in the industry who confidently assert they knew this trend or that would or wouldn’t pan out. That’s for sure.

    You probably have some thoughts about these dynamics, too. Whether you feel that the AI “compute” bottleneck is a bigger deal than cyclical swings in personal computing demand, or vice versa, the stage is set for you to incorporate what you’ve learned here into your plan of action for 2024 (and beyond). 

    The year isn’t getting any younger. Time to make your move.

    Richard is an experienced tech journalist and blogger who is passionate about new and emerging technologies. He provides insightful and engaging content for Connection Cafe and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest trends and developments.