New tech industries start small but can grow into permanent, billion-dollar slices of infrastructure. Sometimes that seems to happen overnight — like with smartphones.
And sometimes it takes years — like with the dumbphones that grew like mould from the mid-1990s through the late 2000s.
And now, for example, the prevalence of smart mobile devices has spurred the mobile app industry, an entirely new piece of infrastructure which supports thousands of companies and billions of dollars in sales.
There is a discussion going on over on Quora about which industries are poised to gain the next $1 billion.
We pulled out a few of the most interesting and explored why they’re set to explode.
Mobile payment services like Square, Intuit's Go Payment and PayPal Here allow users to accept payments virtually anywhere that there is a cell signal.
As of late 2012, Square was valued at roughly $3 billion.
The industry is still in its infancy but as time goes on we expect this to become one of the next biggest markets.
NFC allows smartphones and other mobile devices to exchange information by passing them close together, typically in a sales transaction scan.
But the technology (which uses a wireless or Bluetooth connection) could be used to exchange any amount or type of data between individuals who need to meet face to face and transfer information assets, for instance in video games or in social media.
Social e-commerce is a budding industry that stands to make tons of cash. Consumers love online shopping and when coupled with a recommendation from friends or followers shopping becomes less of a transactional experience and feels more personal.
Companies like Pinterest and The Fancy are changing how users purchase products and services with well-designed and easy to use experiences.
As of February 2013, Pinterest is valued at $2.5 billion.
As more consumers adopt smartphone and tablets the education landscape is transforming.
Fast Company explored the mobile education industry and had this to say, 'the near-ubiquity of handheld devices and their constantly lowering costs will enable the idea of 'education that you can hold in your hand,' so it becomes a widespread reality in so-called developed markets and resource-challenged parts of the globe alike.'
Technology is changing how we work and our workplaces too. Naturally, human resources is also being changed by technology.
Technology in conjunction with human resources allows small and big businesses alike to store their information in the cloud and have employees access necessary information with the click of a button.
CheckpointHR says, 'in addition to streamlining the filing of data such as insurance and payroll information, programs designed for automating human resources can help your business in ways you may not realise.'
Companies looking to tap into this market stand to help businesses go digital and make a ton of money.
There is an explosion of technology in the health care industry. Doctors and nurses equipped with tablets and smartphones can asses patients quicker and more accurately.
There is a market for developers and companies to make solutions for doctors and patients alike.
Forbes has pulled out five ways tech is transforming health care and the list represents great opportunities for start-ups and entrepreneurs to help out:
- Crunching data to offer a better diagnosis and treatment
- Helping doctors communicate with patients
- Linking doctors with other doctors
- Connecting doctors and patients
- Helping patients stay healthy
Computer engineers have been working on this for years: How to get computers to think -- or at least appear to think -- and respond to humans in open-ended, anticipatory conversations.
In 2011, IBM's Watson machine beat two human contestants on TV's Jeopardy! And the iPhone 4S featured Siri, a question-answering audio search device.
If AI becomes good enough to replace humans as first contacts for information in face to face situations, a huge number of service jobs could end up being done by machines.
Imagine, for instance, calling for customer service and instead of having to deal with a foreigner reading a script, talking to genuinely helpful machine who speaks perfect English.
Amazon and eBay have already tapped into this industry but there is plenty of room for competition.
Online shoppers can't always have their purchases delivered to a specific address, so why not set up lockers at a location they can visit on their own time?
This idea re-imagines the P.O. Box and places it in locations like 7-11 and other convenient locations.
As companies begin to transition to using mobile devices in the workplace there's a need for the IT support that goes along with that.
Companies like ZenDesk allow its users to outsource tech support and there is plenty of opportunity for start-ups to help fill this void.
The private sector is used to delivering all its information electronically. Companies have their own searchable databases, and deliver results to their consumers or partners in the most useful way possible. Their innovation is rewarded in the form of market share and profits.
Not so the government. Some branches do a good job of making information available to the public. (The federal judiciary's PACER system, for example, has made the courts almost completely transparent nationwide.)
But others -- various state and local governments -- do a horrible job of letting their citizens see what they're up to. Government 2.0 would allow both citizens and employees react to change more quickly, make government workers more efficient, lower taxes and/or spending, and make politicians more accountable.
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