2024. Episode 11, Season 1.
Happy New Year! We’ve got a lot of stuff happening at House Captain in the two thousand and twenty-fourth edition of humanity, according to the Gregorian Calendar. But to start with, here are a couple of entrees. These are a few things we expect to see happen over the next 12 months.
1: The continued ascent of the digital archaeologist 📜
You’ll find them popping up on every Insta feed. The ‘’digital archaeologist’’ is an account that exists to unearth deep cuts from within sub-cultures and pop culture. Accounts like Nike Server, which pulls up obscure archival models from Nike’s back catalogue, craquesd0futbol, aplasticplant, ecco archive and plenty more who find a place between millennial's love of nostalgia and Gen Z’s appetite for vintage - opens this type of account up to the majority of Instagram’s most active users. Their rising popularity comes from this place: joint generational appeal. Gen Z can’t say they were there (excluding them from the millennial nostalgia love-in for old games, tv shows, albums and more), but they know exactly what they want to wear (justifying their place in the vintage buying ecosystem, irrespective of age).
With predicted global mobile web traffic set to equal a ridiculous 84 exabytes in 2024, expect to see more of these digi archaeologist accounts pop up all over your feed.
2: The rise of the ''dumb phone'' in 2023 was the alley-oop for screenless design to shine in 2024 ☎️
2023 brought the return of the flip and the soap bar phones. It comes with the Y2K aesthetic. But also because Gen Z and millennials are tired of copious screen time and the negative effects it may have on their mental health. According to Nokia, daily search demand for ‘’Nokia flip phones’’ was up by 243% in May 2023. These phones which are loved by the geriatric, are being adopted by younger consumers in an effort to make healthier choices for themselves. In recent years, Apple have introduced measures like Screen Time, and on Android, the smartphone maker Nothing has designed their phones precisely with the idea that it won’t take centre stage in your life (which is why its premier design differentiator is on the back of the device). Kendrick Lamar’s pgLang outfit released the ‘’Light Phone II’’ which has ‘’no ads, few apps’’ and crucially - no infinite scrolling.
Across the product landscape, there are more and more instances of screenless design growing more popular. In fitness, there’s Whoop and the Oura Ring. Crucially, for children, learning toys like the Yoto Player exclusively use audio to engage children's imaginations.
2023 was a big leap for screenless product design - so 2024 presents an even deeper build on the idea. The challenge to design screenless/screen-mitigating tech is ushering in a new wave of native AI-powered (to get around the lack of screen) product design innovation and brands, too. Which is good for everybody. It’s not quite a ‘’Walkman becomes iPod’’ moment. But brands and designers seem to be actively trying to find a solve around excessive screen time, by wielding AI, which is a net positive - if they have genuine utility.
3: Does the side-hustle tax mean the return of car boot sales in the UK? 🛻
Platforms like Depop, Vinted and eBay all act like 24/7, location agnostic giant bric-a-brac conventions, Hypebeast™ Roadshows built on cloud storage as it is. So, since the UK Government have begun taxing people for earning up to £1000 (!) on second-market platforms, could the car boot sale be in with a big return in 2024?
Hypebeast Flea last year showed there’s consumer appetite for a market/bazaar-type concept where they get to buy from some of their favourite and up-and-coming brands, while mixing it with the micro-communities found on these digital spaces in real life.
Depop have been running their Night Market pop-up series since 2019 and 2023’s entry was the biggest yet. Expect to see more second-market platforms showing up IRL to expedite the new limitations placed on their biggest sellers. But equally, the communities developed on these platforms may just cut out the middle man and start IRL marketplaces of their own. Their activity and enterprise is what developed this segment. They might just realise that and start their own marketplaces. Considering how much millennials enjoy nostalgia, and how much Gen Z love participating in disparate sub-cultures, it’s very easy to see a contemporary spin on car boot sale culture featuring heavily in 2024.
4: They're here, but screenless AI-powered devices aren't replacing the smartphone anytime soon 📵.
Humane's AI Pin reveal last year was the cherry on the AI-covered cake that was 2023. Concocted by two former Apple design and product execs, the Humane Pin was unveiled on November 9th 2023, and it got people very excited about a product that ‘’humanises’’ AI rather than terrifies people about it. It’s firmly touted as ‘’anti-smartphone’’ and it operates as a micro-projector, beaming all it’s functionalities using laser ink onto your wrist.
It has hand gestures but it is mostly voice operated. It’s a great piece of product design and baked into it are a number of design verticals that could soon become game-changing proprietary consumer tech. The micro-projecting, the use of laser ink. But, whether it becomes the smartphone killer it positions itself as - is unlikely. At least, with this first iteration. It’s going for $700, which is the price of a good smartphone, on iOS and Android. The smartphone is like the car, or skateboard. The Humane Pin right now, feels more like a flying car, or hoverboard. There are still loads of behavioural leaps that need to happen before the tech becomes commercially viable at scale. Though, innovation is there to make those leaps.
With a series of Native AI devices set to release in 2024, such as Rabbit’s R1 and Tab AI which is described as a ‘’superpowered Tamagochi’’, the next evolution in consumer tech looks to have landed.
5: Is that an AirPod? Or a hearing aid? 🦻
Year-on-year, we see inspiring advancements in accessibility. Apple, who have long been at the forefront added their revolutionary Assistive Access mode which when turned on simplifies a user’s phone and accompanying apps to help those with cognitive disabilities easier. Sony announced Project Leonardo for PS5, a fully modifiable controller which allows a user to 100% customise its use and design to help players with limited motor control. They also announced they’d be creating an accessibility tags for all its new games with accessibility features. Netflix also added customisable caption and subtitle options to fit a wider variety of needs.
This mass adoption of accessibility measures, will soon begin to filter down into sub-cultures, too. Djing as a pastime and hobby, has been on the rise since the pandemic. With some going from bedroom mixes to the Renaissance tour, like South African DJ, Uncle Waffles.
There are more and more DJ’s coming to the fore daily - as the practice becomes more proliferated with every new TikTok mashup, the need for proper ear protection will become a greater issue. Gen Z are a group who’ve grown up wearing earbuds and headphones. They are said to be experiencing hearing loss at a rate of 10% and 17% respectively, according to Bloomberg. Lisa Yong of WGSN says ‘’we’re looking at a very different generational mindset and attitude when it comes to hearing aids’’. ‘’Users are younger these days, and there is less of a barrier to acceptance. Younger cohorts are seeing hearing aids as another audio device’’.
Apple’s AirPods Pro, when used with accessibility features, can act a bit like a hearing aid already. Apple are probably watching how users utilise these features, before coming to the market with an actual hearing aid product. Their products account for 32% of sales in the wireless earbuds market as it is. They’re perfectly placed to position the hearing aid within culture. But any audio brand who’s able to bring these to the market with truly supportive features, audio capacity, a competitive price point (avg. hearing aid price is $500!), and strong design will do well. The race to own the ‘’reading glasses for the ears’’ is one to watch in 2024.
6: Brands to avoid the algorithmic axe with rogue rollouts? 🎪
Playboi Carti is a lot of things. But are we adding campaign planner to that, too? Carti’s release rumours are described as a ‘’whole Subreddit enterprise’’ by writer Frazer Tharpe. His popularity will mystify most above the age of 27. But Carti has an extremely loyal fanbase, who’ve followed each breadcrumb he’s dropped on the helter-skelter rollout of his next album ‘’I am Music’’. On Dec 7th, he dropped his first music video from the album on Instagram. Then each week since, he’s dropped a full-length video for a new song. By doing this, he’s able to work around algorithmic best practices, without losing any of the streams/sales metrics when the full album releases. Only two of the tracks and videos dropped on Instagram, have made it to YouTube.
By utilising these platforms in this way, sort of drop-feeding, he’s generating masses of demand, with intentionally placed shreds of supply. Supply that, in typical Carti fashion, is purposely difficult for people to locate. You hear Carti is releasing new music, so you go to Spotify. He's a musician after all, not a social media strategist. You want to listen on the go. But, you don’t find it there. You’re confused. By utilising Instagram and YouTube as release channels for new music, he’s delivering for his fans, while also beating the algorithms. Much is said about how much Spotify pays artists, so artists are clocking on and making their new content work harder for them. This kind of strategy can only work for an artist who has a cult following, like Carti does. The fans have to be fervent, always-on and driven to get there first. So why can’t brands with a similar cult-like following do the same? Don’t be surprised if you see Topicals, for example, showing up on platforms you don’t expect. Discord, Telegram, BlueSky and more. Before taking their users back to the platforms they’re most actively engaged on.
To beat the algo's in 2024, be more Carti, treat your rollout like performance art.Read another post