Technology in 2010 – Year in Review

It was the year of the iPad, social networks, Farmville, Android, and Wikileaks

Word cloud created by using all the articles on this site in 2010

Social was the term to describe 2010. Social networking, social media, social gaming, social everything. As usual Hollywood moved with the time to release a movie on social networking. The year 2010 was interesting in technology. In January,  I wrote about what interesting things we could see in 2010.

Here is a list of some of the interesting trends for the year.

First, the year 2010 was the year of the tablet device. Apple announced the iPad device in January and generated lots of hype. Many people in the tech industry were very sceptic about this device. Why would people use this? And when the iPad came out, reviews were polarized, some liked it and others saw no use for this type of device. Many people looked at the iPad and while seeing no reason to buy it they still did. Apple sold 2 million iPads in the first 59 days. The verdict is in by now and it is now clear that there was a room in the market for a “third device”. The iPad Effect has changed how software developers create applications, design webs and how we use computers. The iPad has also disrupted netbook and laptop sales. Some 32% of iPad owners say they don’t need a laptop or netbook.

The year was also good for e-readers. In fact, 2010 was the year e-readers and ebook sales took off. Amazon’s Kindle is reported to have sold in 8 million units, and some estimate that Barnes and Noble’s Nook is selling more devices. The companies don’t disclose sales numbers, but it is clear that 2010 was the year the general public adopted e-books. Amazon sells 180 kindle books for every 100 books it sells. E-books are now 25% of Amazon’s revenue. What is interesting is that according to the Association of American Publishers, e-books make up 9% of the total consumer book sales (AAP Reports Publisher Book Sales for August).

2010 was also interesting in mobile phones. This was the year of Android, antennagate and finally Microsoft came out with a good mobile OS. Android is the mobile success of the year. It is outselling the iPhone in the US. Apple released the iPhone 4 but had problems both with lost prototype and the famous antennagate. Steve Jobs comment that people are holding the phone wrong did not help. Nevertheless, the iPhone 4 was successful. Just over the first weekend some 1.7 million phones were sold. Microsoft finally got their mobile OS right and released Windows Phone 7. While the reviews were good, the sales have been slow. Microsoft reported in December that they sold 1.5 million devices since launched, which is less than sales of iPhone 4 just over the weekend.

Facebook added its 500 millionth member during the year. The network is so powerful that half of Facebook users log onto it everyday. More than 35 million update their statuses at least once a day. The average user spends 55 minutes per day on Facebook and has 130 friends (The Facebook Blog, July 2010). The company generated 2 billion dollars in revenues. No surprise that Time magazine chose Mark Elliot Zuckerberg as the person of the year.

Facebook has created a platform for social games. 2010 was the year of Farmville. This social game, developed by Zynga, attracted some 80 million players when it peaked, causing it to become one of the most played games in 2010.

The year 2010 was also a year the Internet started to change. The network we once knew is now gone. As content owners and rights-holders fight to restrict access to their content using outdated laws and ignorant politicians, the network is geting fragmented. Indeed, the fragmentation period of the Internet has begun.

Wikileaks did not did not help. The release of the US diplomatic cables brought on criticism from many politicians. It was also the first time that the network is used in war with DDOS attacks.

One interesting trend was the living room, the battle for the TV. Apple released a new version of Apple TV, Google released Android powered Google TV, Boxee and Roku continued to improve their products. We still have a lot of improvement in the TV experience as the major networks particularly in the US, are reluctant to open their closed wall garden.

So how did I do on my predictions from a year ago? I talked about the cloud and APIs. Sure, they were important but are becoming more ubiqutues and thus did not generate much hype during the year. I predicted that content management would be important. However, it was not so much, except for books. I got that one right. Home entertainment boxes came as predicted with both Apple and Google releasing their TV offerings. We still have to wait for the impact on these. Tablets and e-readers I got but that was easy. I predicted that augmented reality would be important, but it was not. I also predicted significant improvements in battery technology. Fail there. Overall, not bad, maybe enough to predict for 2011.