Predicting the Future

These days it has become quite common to frame both current events and predictions of the future in terms of the past. Within the technology space, and particularly when talking about Apple, this is especially true — even for me: every time I comment on a rumor, whether in regards to something so trivial as WWDC dates this year all the way up to the much more significant potential screen sizes at which the iPhone 6 could ship, I look to the past. In terms of WWDC, the past indicates it will take place some day in the month of June; turns out, it will run from June second through the sixth. Regarding the potential for the iPhone’s screen size to increase, Apple’s historical aversion to changing this aspect of their devices pitted against the fact that they did with the iPhone 5 and a growing desire for a larger device nevertheless makes a larger-screened iPhone a likely proposition. And so, were I a better man, thus would I place my bets.

This historical approach appears very promising, then, as a way to predict the future; however, it is extremely important to remember that it is nothing more than simple extrapolation. Although that process can yield great results, it will only do so after a vast number of data points have been collected. Moreover, extrapolation only works in situations wherein existing trends can be identified, and then either change very little or remain consistent on the interval in question. But Ben Bajarin points out in his recent piece for Tech.pinions titled Tech History is Being Made, Not Repeated, we neither have enough data points to apply historical precedent to the tech industry, nor would doing so serve any real purpose: the very thing that makes this space so interesting and attractive also makes it incredibly unlikely one year will mimic another in but a few minor ways.