TechTree Blog: 2011 — A Tech Retrospective

Looking back at the year that was in the world of technology.

 
TechTree Blog: 2011 — A Tech Retrospective

The tech world witnessed a year full of ups and downs. While tablets and their OSes ruled the roost, we also witnessed a few meltdowns, lawsuits, and final farewells. Here's a look at the events that shaped 2011, technology wise.


e-Governance: Indian Politics Goes Digital
Apart from initiatives such as e-filing of Income Tax, Aadhar cards, and online application for the voter's card, the government launched the Aakash, a cost-effective tablet for students. The specs may make you cringe, but at Rs 2,500 you can't ask for more. However, if you are one among those who ordered the tablet, the wait just got longer.

In related events, politics played an important role in the tech scene. After being the hero who launched Aakash, Union Telecom Minister and everyone's favourite whipping boy, Kapil Sibal, was caught with his foot in his mouth when he asked Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! to pre-screen all content generated by Indian users. Following a public outcry, the government decided it didn't want to censor the internet after all.

TechTree Blog: 2011 — A Tech Retrospective


The Tablet Revolution
2011 can be described as the year of the tablet. CES 2011 alone saw over 80 tablet launches. Such was the craze behind the form factor that even brands such as Cisco and Lenovo launched tablets meant for businessmen. This didn't end with devices alone. The operating systems and app markets that the devices used also made headlines. This year saw the launch of iOS 5, Android 2.2 (Froyo), Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and Windows Phone 7. Considering the avalanche of apps available on these platforms for peanuts, mobile computing seems to be here for the long haul.


The Google Story
Google turned 13 in 2011. After the success of the Android platform, everyone's preferred search engine maker added yet another feather to its hat by acquiring Motorola Mobility and 24,000 patents along with it, thereby strengthening its grip on the smartphone space. However, it hasn't been all smiles for the search giant. After burning its fingers with attempts such as Buzz, Friend Connect, Wave, Orkut, and Jaiku, Google had another go at social networking with Google+. During its invitation-only test phase, the platform saw a mad frenzy of people fighting to grab an elusive invite. Only time will tell this move will strengthen Google's presence in the social networking arena.


Facebooking: The New Age Mantra
After a lot of dilly-dallying, Mark Zuckerberg decided not to raise an IPO for Facebook. However, that wasn't before altering the privacy policy to the chagrin of users. Eight days after its f8 Conference on 22nd September, the popular social network launched its Timeline feature, which documents users' lives chronologically. This move effectively delivered targeted advertisements, generating even greater income for the company. Whether Facebook sells your data or not, social media marketing ensures that all your information is up for grabs.


The Cloudburst
It was as much the year of cloud computing as it was of tablets, but the technology also had its share of major fiascoes. In January, several Hotmail users lost their inboxes to a security breach. In May 2011, Sony's PlayStation Network was compromised and as many as 77 million accounts hacked into. Although Sony stressed that no credit card data was misused, it brought into question the security of critical data stored on the cloud.

However, Sony wasn't alone. Amazon's ambitious EC2 web hosting and cloud storage service crashed in such a way that the lost data was irrecoverable. Although the extent of damage was miniscule, it created an outrage as the product was touted to be "bomb-proof". On the other hand, Dropbox's data leak was more due to stupidity than a technical snag. For almost four hours, users could access any data on the service by entering absolutely anything in the password prompt. Again, while not much data was lost, it did put cloud security under the scanner.


Tech Events
Like every year, 2011 too saw a plethora of gadgets launched in various expos and exhibitions. The year kickstarted with CES 2011, with the focus being on finding an iPad 2 killer. While the Motorola XOOM, BlackBerry PlayBook, and Notion Ink's Adam were considered the forerunners for the title, none of them succeeded. The new year also saw the launch of Intel's Sandy Bridge series of processors, reportedly the most optimised CPU architecture from the company yet.

CeBit 2011 in March, considered to be the biggest exposition for tech, also revolved around tablets and mobile computing innovations. Several gadgets, such as the Schenker six-core notebook and ASUS's G74SX 3D gaming notebook showed off the strength of mobile computing. However, the largest export exhibition in Taiwan, Computex 2011, was a letdown of sorts since nothing groundbreaking came from the event.


Patent Infringements Galore
It all started when Apple slapped a lawsuit on Samsung, claiming that the GALAXY smartphones and tablets copied design and UI elements from its devices. A week later, Samsung decided to repay the favour by suing Apple in three countries for patent infringements. Apple also sued HTC along the way, which was followed by Google handing over a patent to HTC for sweet revenge. All in all, the mobile giants behaved like crabs in a bucket, constantly pulling each other down this year.


Steve Jobs Passes Away
October 2011 was a sad month for Apple fanatics, as the company's founder Steve Jobs lost a prolonged battle against cancer. As a man known for his design sense and shrewd business tactics passed away, the world lost a marketing genius and an icon of sorts.


Communication Meltdowns
While Apple mourned the loss of its iconic founder, BlackBerry struggled to keep its services operational. BB internet services, including corporate email and messaging (BBM), were down in four continents for three full days. As a core switch within RIM's infrastructure failed, the downtime affected 70 million users the world over. While BlackBerry users are often plagued with poor battery life and scant app support, the Canadian company nonetheless continues to enjoy a strong user base, thanks to its well-regarded security and data protocols. Overall, the year hasn't been too kind to BlackBerry.


First Timers
Lastly, some internet giants deigned to come down to India and interact with netizens on this side of the world. Wordpress.org hosted its first annual Wordcamp in Jabalpur, while Wikipedia.org held its first annual WikiConference 2011 at Mumbai. India is certainly getting noticed on the world tech map, and 2012 will hopefully strengthen this trend.


Tags : TechTree Blog, Education, Events, Gaming, Government, Guides, Internet, Mobile Phones, Previews, Security, Tablets, Android, BlackBerry, iOS, PlayStation, Windows Phone, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Google+, Kamakshi