Technology is improving at an unprecedented pace, making right now an exciting time to be a growth investor. Three recent stories in the news could be potential game-changers for their industries and are certainly worthy of our attention.
The new "eye"-phone?
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will hold an event in Seattle on June 18, where they are set to unveil a new smartphone with 3-D capabilities. The phone is rumored to be able to track users' eye movements as a way to scan through content, and also display holographic images in three dimensions. The smartphone is likely to commercialize later this year.
Along with the Kindle tablet and the Fire TV, this is Amazon's newest push into hardware. Amazon seems to be taking a page out of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) playbook. Apple developed a wide variety of "i-everything" hardware devices to sell users content in the form of music and videos. As the United States' largest e-commerce platform, Amazon.com can sell users just about any retail item that they could possibly want. But it is also a one-stop-shop to download books and magazines, stream movies, and watch television shows. The more hardware devices Amazon can get in consumers' hands, they more content it can distribute. And it's the content -- not the hardware -- where Amazon makes the majority of its operating profit.
One last interesting fact: Apple and Samsung together commanded 68% of the U.S. smartphone market during the three months that ended in January 2014. But with all eyes now on Amazon, I'd expect the incumbents to lose a piece of their share.
Look, no hands
Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) attracted a lot of attention recently with the announcement that it would be building 100 prototypes of a driverless car -- absent of a gas pedal, brake, or even a steering wheel. The car would travel at up to 25 miles per hour, and could even be summoned by a smartphone. So much for waiting around to hail a taxi.
But in addition to that news, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) has been quietly working on developing a driverless car of its own. Tesla's car would use a combination of cameras and sensors to drive autonomously, but still allows humans to take back control if desired.
Tesla has always been a company to play by its own rules. Rather than building its vehicles off of existing technology, it designs everything from the ground up. The new driverless car would follow suit -- with the technology being developed internally. This makes life very difficult for the existing automobile manufacturers. While Ford and GM might be much larger in existing production capacity, it is much more difficult for them to shift gears and adapt to big changes. If electric, autonomous vehicles truly are the wave of the future, I'd expect to see Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the driver's seat.
A wear-house of data
Lastly, Samsung has developed a prototype for its new Simband -- which is a wearable device concept that can collect biometric data such as heart rate, temperature, or oxygen levels. The interesting part is that Simband is not a product, but rather an open-source platform. Other manufacturers can develop and install sensors of their own into the Simband to collect various biometric data. Similar to what Google is doing with Project Ara, Samsung is building the foundation, attracting developers to offer options, then allowing its end users to decide what features they want in their product.
Open-source projects like this are gaining in popularity. Watch for the companies managing the platform to also offer interpretive software as a means to extend the relationship with end users, and even learn more about their preferences. This is an even better way for Samsung to take the pulse of its customers.
Foolish bottom line
Innovation never goes out of style. Companies that have visionary leadership and invest heavily in their business can offer best-in-class products that the market loves. This can result in demand far outpacing supply -- a phenomenon that we saw for Apple's iPad, Tesla's Roadster, and Samsung's Galaxy smartphone. The returns for investors can be excellent as well, as analysts race to update sales forecasts and increase price targets.
The recent announcements from Amazon, Tesla, and Samsung remind us exactly how these companies became the multibillion-dollar market leaders they are today.