Comment: The Past Year in Tech
Samuel Dillon reviews the past year’s technological developments and the rise of tech journalism…
Last summer, Google launched their social network, Google+, and bought the communications giant Motorola for about $12.5 billion. After that, we all got back to Leeds and realised that once again 30Mbs of broadband from Virgin was nothing but a pipe dream (pun intended), and I realised no-one was going to use Google+.
Days after the iPhone 4S was presented to the world, the world lost the man that drove its development, and the development of so many other market defining products, Steve Jobs. His biography by Walter Isaacson is a must read for anyone who has an interest in technology or business management. This book explored Steve’s life and hinted at his final disruptive product, TV, with many thinking that it will integrate with Siri to produce a seamless TV experience. Siri is of course the new iPhone’s voice commanded assistant, with Google working on their own currently codenamed ‘Majel’ (the same name as the actress who voiced all the ship’s computers on Star Trek – #TriviaForNerds).
Even without Steve Jobs, his roadmap has ensured success for Apple for the next half a decade at least. In the past year they surpassed ExxonMobile as the most valuable company in the world, and look set on being the first company in history to be worth one trillion dollars. While not quite in the same leagues yet, Facebook announced they would IPO for an approximate $100 billion in the summer. Mark Zuckerberg also splashed some cash buying Instagram for $1 billion, the same amount of money Zuckerberg turned down from Yahoo in late 2006.
While Zuckerberg has built something big, with 900 million active users and climbing, the next Steve Jobs may well be Jack Dorsey. Dorsey’s first great idea led him to co-found Twitter; his second company, Square, has the potential to be much bigger. Square is a new payment platform that allows anyone with a smartphone to accept payment from a credit card, and now they have developed the technology further so anyone can pay while keeping their phone in their pocket, and just saying their name. Dorsey has a passion for using technology to remove technology from our lives. Square should be coming to the UK within the next year.
While the future of TV is not here yet, Netflix is. Competing against LoveFilm and Sky Go, Netflix has got off to a strong start this side of the Atlantic providing a film and TV streaming service. Now for one-in-four people in the UK, a majority of their TV viewing is on-demand rather than scheduled, the tide is turning.
This summer will see the release of Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows 8, which will resemble the ‘Metro’ interface used on Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7. This is happening at the same time as Apple are releasing their own OS update ‘Mountain Lion’ which will better tie their MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones closer.
In game news, with the new Modern Warfare’s massive sales, Call of Duty surpassed Harry Potter to become the highest grossing entertainment franchise in the world, is this the year video games get treated seriously? (This writer is still content with a free afternoon and Pokemon Blue on the Game Boy Colour.)
Next year expect the rise of Chinese start-ups and companies. China is going from copying Silicon Valley, to out-innovating them. Also, in an interesting twist, humans are also going to start mining asteroids for precious metals.
And finally…Google has publicly displayed two products from their skunkworks factory ‘Google X’. The first is a self-driving car and the second is Project Glass. While the first is self explanatory – but the video is pretty cool – the latter has the potential to become the next step in mobile communications with a HUD (Heads Up Display) that is worn like a pair of glasses. All I’m saying at this stage is that as cool as they look, Google need to speak to Ray Bans.
With all this happening, tech journalism has really stepped up in recent years; the king of them all is TechCrunch, which was brought by Aol for $40 million. However, it has since lost many of their great writers including its founder and editor Michael Arrington and the superstar tech writer MG Siegler, who have both become Venture Capitalist but still write on occasion; Sarah Lacy set up her own blog called PandoDaily, which Paul Carr writes for; and Jason Kincaid is is off in the wilderness somewhere.
Apart from TechCrunch there are many great great options to get your tech news from. Now Leeds Student Tech is no more, at least for the summer, other great options are The Verge, CNET, The Next Web, AllThingsD, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. For news closer to home try The Guardian, BBC, and TechRadar, which all offer great coverage of UK and global tech news. And whatever you do, don’t get addicted to Reddit, it could ruin your degree. Sorry.
I write and link to Tech, follow me @SamuelDillon
PS. For the final time: please can the Univeristy install Google Chrome as standard.