Year in Tech: Looking Back at 2010
This article was originally written for ArrowQuick Solutions, a technology consultancy for small businesses.
The thing about working in the tech industry is that there are always new and exciting things happening. Here are the highlights of 2010 that stand out to me.
The web has been quickly adopting new and exciting technologies. As I touched on in another article, this includes improved usability, easier ways for embedding multimedia, enhanced graphics and animation capabilities, geolocation, apps that work offline, and more. Most of the modern web browsers — Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera — support this new tech or plan on adding it soon. Microsoft is a little farther behind; they released a beta of Internet Explorer 9 this year, bringing it up to modern levels, but it’s still behind. This is a bit disappointing, since IE remains the most popular browser for surfing the web. Here’s hoping that Microsoft will continue to accelerate development so that businesses can really take advantage of these new technologies and improve the user experience and sophistication of their websites in 2011.
Speaking of Microsoft, 2010 saw widespread adoption of their newest operating system, Windows 7. Microsoft is slowly phasing out support for older systems like Windows XP and Windows 2000. This next year will see even more programs targeting Windows 7; if your business hasn’t upgraded yet, then 2011 is the prime time to budget some money for upgrades. (The “Pro” edition comes with a Win XP compatibility mode if you have programs that require older versions of Windows.)
It’s almost a cliché now, but social media such as Facebook and Twitter is going strong. These services have always been popular among younger audiences and the tech-savvy, but 2010 really saw these services being adopted by mainstream audiences. Facebook passed the 500-million-user mark this year, and people of all ages and skills have signed on. It’s easy to get started using these services, so it’s definitely worth looking into supplementing your marketing efforts with some of these tools.
It would be impossible to look back at 2010 without mentioning mobile use. The big news was Apple’s release of the iPad, which started a “tablet war” that will continue into 2011. The adoption of smart phones that Apple started with the iPhone also continued this year — many people bought Android phones, Apple released the iPhone 4, and Microsoft released Windows Phone 7. Apple’s and Google’s app stores became massively popular as users installed everything from mobile-specific apps like Foursquare to mobile versions of existing services like Facebook. Like social media, businesses have been leveraging these new channels for their marketing and customer interactions.
2010 also had a few cybersecurity highlights. In a case that mirrors the Chinese cyberspy ring reported on in 2009, a computer worm dubbed “Stuxnet” was discovered that was specifically engineered for taking down Iranian nuclear power plants. Although attacks this sophisticated are still only within the realm of national governments, it suggests that corporate sabotage and espionage through cyberattacks is in our future, and underscores the need for standard computer security practices at your business.
There were also plenty of stories regarding digital privacy in the news. It seemed like Facebook continually ran into privacy issues all year, from making it difficult for users to hide their private information to sharing that information with advertisers. A Pennsylvania school district got into trouble for spying on students through their laptop webcams. And the Wall Street Journal just released a series of investigations on what information is being collected by mobile phone apps. All these stories show that privacy of information is a sensitive subject for many users, and can cost you money and customers if handled wrong.
Finally: Inception. Begin protecting yourself now, before the dream thieves come. ;)
Those are the main trends that I noticed. What tech stories did you notice in 2010? What do you predict for 2011?