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By Michelai Graham
Boardroom's Tech Reporter
December 31, 2023
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Tech Talk is a weekly digest by Boardroom’s Michelai Graham that breaks down the latest news from the world’s biggest tech companies and the future of industry-shaping trends like AI.

Happy Holidays to all who celebrate!

I’m back in your inbox after a short Christmas hiatus to highlight five tech trends and some of my favorite headlines from 2023. I’m not sure about you, but it seems so surreal to be wrapping up another year. I’ve been looking back at all of my reporting and Tech Talk editions from this year, and I’m in awe at all that has happened in the industry. Recently, I recapped 10 of the biggest tech moments in 2023, and I noticed that many of the big headlines touch on the same themes.

Many new tech trends arose this year, but these stood out to me the most. Here are five tech trends that took over headlines in 2023.

AI Overtook Blockchain as Biggest Emerging Tech

Artificial intelligence quickly became the top emerging tech this year, and experts expect it to have the most impact on the industry in the coming years. In 2021, we’d easily say the blockchain would be the tech to change the world, and that still may be true, but AI is running the game right now.

There was always skepticism about the blockchain, and the tech’s primary use cases in the last two years were NFTs and cryptocurrencies. The unpredictableness of the digital assets market stirred people away from it. I still truly believe the possibilities are limitless on the blockchain, a technology simply built on creating decentralized digital ledgers for any and every transaction that happens on enabled networks. I think the difference with AI is that it’s not a new type of technology; it’s just being leveraged and implemented in new and different ways.

AI’s impact has already spanned various industries this year alone, and I have no doubt it will continue to expand and impact everything we do in the years to come.

The Race for Best AI Chatbot Took Shape

We’ve all likely interacted with AI chatbots before when using online customer service systems, but those are nothing like the AI chatbots we can access today. To think, around this time last year, all people could talk about was a new AI chatbot called ChatGPT that could only be used on a desktop. So much has changed since then.

Here’s a snippet of some of the AI chatbots on the market racing to be the best and favorite among everyday people:

  • ChatGPT: OpenAI‘s flagship AI-powered and text-generated chatbot has attracted 100 million monthly users since it launched in late November last year. ChatGPT has expanded with free, premium, and enterprise versions.
  • Microsoft Copilot: Microsoft was the first to follow in OpenAI’s footsteps in February by overhauling its search engine Bing and implementing an AI chatbot function. The chatbot was originally named Bing Chat before rebranding as Microsoft Copilot.
  • Bard: Google entered the race in March when it launched Bard, a conversational generative AI chatbot equipped with Googling capabilities.
  • Claude: Anthropic, an AI startup founded by ex-OpenAI employees, also launched the first version of its AI chatbot in March. Claude is available through open beta and has pro and enterprise versions as well.
  • Grok: Elon Musk‘s xAI unveiled a conversational AI chatbot that responds humorously, for lack of better terms. Grok launched in November exclusively for verified X Premium Plus subscribers. `

It’s easy to say ChatGPT is the most popular or best because it was the first, but I have no doubt Big Tech companies will continue to give OpenAI a run for its money next year.

New VR and AR Headsets Emerged

The competition for the best mixed-reality headset also kicked off this year. Apple, Meta, and Sony have risen as the biggest players in this race, with all three companies either releasing or announcing new headsets this year.

Sony released the PlayStation VR2 in February for $549, but users can only use this headset if they already have a PS5. The PlayStation VR2 is not a standalone headset and requires a PS5 to set up and function. Conversely, you can play PlayStation titles in VR, which isn’t doable with any other headset on the market.

Meta is bullish on VR headsets, and it made that clear when it launched another new one this year. The Big Tech giant now has three headsets on the market. Its most popular headset, the Quest 2, launched in October 2020 and retails for $249.99. Meta has shipped an estimated 20 million Quest 2s since launch. The company launched the Quest Pro in October 2022 and initially sold the high-end headset for $1,499.99 before knocking the price down to $999.99 in March. Consumers don’t seem to be that into the Quest Pro, and rumors are circulating that Meta will discontinue it soon. But it doesn’t stop there. Meta released the Quest 3 in October for $499.99, an updated and much slimmer version of the Quest 2.

Apple has officially entered the mixed-reality headset chat with the Vision Pro. The tech company’s augmented reality and virtual reality headset won’t come with controllers and is equipped with 4K displays, a 3D interface, spatial audio, and eye-tracking tech. Apple’s first headset is slated to hit the market in early 2024, and it will (allegedly) retail for $3,499.

Bitcoin's Resurgence Put Crypto Back on the Map

Bitcoin is back on the rise as the volatile digital assets market shakes off some of that snow from the longest crypto winter ever. One thing to know about crypto is that when one asset is doing well, the entire market reaps some of the benefits in one way or another. Bitcoin averaged around $20,000 in January and even went as low as $16,600 to kick off the year. Bitcoin’s average has more than doubled since the token is trading above $43,000 as of December and crossed the $40,000 threshold in recent weeks for the first time in over a year and a half.

Bitcoin has been up and down all year, but since Q4 hit, the cryptocurrency has been climbing at a steady pace. There can be many reasons for this, but two that have a high impact include fodder around an impending Spot Bitcoin ETF approval and the next Bitcoin halving event that is estimated to happen between April and May 2024.

Bitcoin didn’t start 2023 strong, so I’ll be paying close attention to how the token performs at the top of the year.

Tech Layoffs Plagued the Industry

Thousands of tech workers were laid off this year as companies attempted to adjust and reset after overhiring staff during the pandemic. It seemed like every other week, there was news of another tech company cutting employees. The media industry was hit pretty hard, too.

Here is a short recap of Big Tech layoffs that came this year:

  • Alphabet/Google: Laid off 12,000 employees in late January in a mass restructuring of business focus.
  • Amazon: Laid off 9,000 more employees in March after announcing in November 2022 that it was cutting 18,000 workers. The Big Tech company cut another 180 gaming employees in April.
  • Meta: Cut 11,00 jobs in fall of 2022 before laying off another 10,000 employees in March to further cut costs and operate more efficiently. Meta’s recruiting, technology, and business divisions were most affected by the cuts.
  • Microsoft: Laid off 10,000 workers between January and March to trim costs. The Big Tech company’s subsidiary, LinkedIn, laid off 716 workers in May before letting go of 668 employees in October.
  • Spotify: Cut 600 employees in January, 200 more in June, and another 1,500 workers in December to round out three rounds of layoffs this year.
  • ByteDance: Cut hundreds of jobs across its gaming division in November as it pulled back its aggressive push into the market.

Other Big Tech players like Apple and Tesla carried out smaller rounds of layoffs throughout the year, but not big enough to make headlines. On the other hand, Nvidia didn’t make any cuts this year and hasn’t made a formal round of layoffs in 15 years, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said at a recent internal meeting.

I (risk-free) gambled on movements in the tech industry over 40 times this year in this little section. I won’t be placing a new bet today. Instead, let’s take a look back at all of the bets I made this year and how some of the big ones landed.

Now, let’s raise a glass and cheers to making it through another year. I hope you enjoyed this last edition of 2023. Tech Talk will be back in 2024!