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January 09, 2015

5 predictions for Philly business in '15

Uber, pop-up business model are expected to continue their climb

Here are some economic predictions for 2015 that you've probably seen already: everyone will finally get a raise, your coffee and booze will cost more and stocks will improvemaybe. (No one really knows.)

Glad we got those out of the way.

Predicting what will happen next in the business world is infamously foolhardy, especially as the pace of innovation continues to increase. It's problematic enough to prognosticate what lies in store for your own company, let alone what the macroeconomy will do next.

But hey, we didn't want to miss out on all the fun. So, we put together a few forecasts for 2015 but stuck as close as we could to what we know – Philly.

Pulling some insights from around the Web, and using more than a little neighborhood knowhow, here are some of our own foolhardy predictions for this year:

1. Uber in-demand

A popular 2015 prediction is that it's going to be a huge year for Uber, even after the ridesharing service seemingly angered the world in 2014. The company was so naughty that 45 cab companies officially sued Uber two days before Christmas.

Nevertheless, Uber drivers remained out in force, especially on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, navigating through throngs of revelers and offering more convenient service for less money. In fact, if you ask Uber, they'll say they had a great 2014!

It remains to be seen exactly how the legal situation plays out, of course, but as long as Uber drivers are able to operate, locals will be happy to tap the app.

2. Leveraging laziness

Philly's been steadily growing its roster of businesses that deliver our every need without us ever having to venture far from our homes. In 2014, the aforementioned Uber started delivering lunch, Instacart started delivering Di Bruno Bros., and now restaurants can deliver beer with food orders.

Our prediction? People will seize this chance to expend minimal effort when given the choice, so expect more of these opportunities for on-demand services to arise for businesses.

3. Wearable wariness

Experts are practically salivating over the planned launch of the Apple Watch this year, and it's leading a lot of them to also guess that wearables will really come to define 2015. There's certainly a lot of cool stuff coming out.

That being said, the Best Buy in South Philly already has a section dedicated to fitness trackers and such, and there are more than a few watches out there that perform some pretty neat tricks. Is this trend really going to blow up?

Not everyone's buying it. For as much excitement as there is about the potential, there's a lot that remains to be proven about the true demand for these products. Without weighing judgment on an unpredictable and rapidly evolving technology, we're guessing you won't be seeing many more people running around Fairmount this summer clad in more gadgetry than past years.

4. Getting geekier

Speaking of innovation, there's been a lot of energy and enthusiasm behind establishing Philadelphia as a technological hub, from the official naming this past year of N3RD Street to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce releasing a report just last month outlining steps for encouraging more inventiveness.

That momentum, and the steady influx of millennials, bodes well for the city's burgeoning tech sector. We'll say that at least one of these startups will boast a breakout product in 2015.

5. Staying for the summer

It can't be overstated how the pop-up beer garden craze transformed Philly's outdoor spaces in the last couple years, resulting in some obvious tourism benefits, albeit with a splash of controversy.

The trend is giving more people a reason to stick around or actually travel to the city in the summer, a time when people are usually leaving en masse for the shore. Could more of these urban oases ultimately boost business bottom lines by keeping dollars nearby?

Tough to say. If they can find a way to pack up the Ocean Drive in shipping containers and move it to Spruce Street Harbor Park, we're in.