When thinking about technology trends of 2008, my first thought was that not much happened this year. Not a very eventful year in terms of new inventions coming to the market. Ok, we got Chome and iPhone 3G, but these are not going to change the world. But if you dig deeper the year 2008 turned out to be remarkably important year in terms of technology trends.
Here are some of the important trends that come to mind:
Social Networking – Social networking was not invented in 2008, but that year it hit the mainstream, or reached the tipping point and took off. People of all kinds went to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, and discovered long lost friends and relatives. It is estimated that Facebook has 140 million active users. If Facebook was a country it would make it into the top ten countries ranked in population, of similar size as Russia. That’s about 2% of the world population.
Another reason to mention social networking is it’s role in the U.S. presidential election 2008. This is one of the reasons an unknown senator like Barack Obama was able to even win the nomination to run, winning Washington insider like Hillary Clinton, and then John McCain. These people have very powerful network connections inside the political circles, but with his site http://www.barackobama.com, the president elect built a network of the masses using the Internet.
Cloud Computing – This is the buzz-word of the year. Cloud computing went fast up the hype cycle but there are signs that it has already reached the peak of inflated expectations and has found its application. Others might argue that the term is just a name of a phenomena that has been steadily growing for few years already – utility computing and web services. However, we are seeing new types of services like Amazon Web Services which offer not only storage space and computing but also a database called SimpleDB.
Improving the Memory – With increased popularity of digital gadgets like music players, demands for more memory, less physical size and faster access speeds have driven memory advancement to a point where we are seeing more use of memory like flash memory. This of course is not new and hard disks are still much cheaper, but in 2008, the solid state memory technology reached a point where is affordable in these devices and the prices of flash memory can only go down. One indication of this swictch in technologies is that solid state memories are entering the PC. Mac Air has an option of a 128 GB solid state drive, and Intel is already shipping a 160 GB solid state drives for PCs.
The Mobile Garden Opens Up – The Apple iPhone may have been last year’s invention of the year, but for 2008 it is the iPhone Affect. If any of Apple’s invention of 2008 should be mentioned it is the App Store. The Apple App Store created a new market for mobile application – truly a blue ocean innovation. According to the Economist, the App Store has taken off even more quickly than iTunes, Apple’s industry-leading online-music store. In the first two months, iPhone users downloaded more than 100 million programs.
The trend here is that the traditional closed garden models of the telecoms is breaking down. The gates are being opened and the enabling technology is the Internet and the Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC). The App Store is one example of this. Sure, Apple still keeps its hands in there, but anybody can create apps, sign up with Apple and start selling though their system. While Apple has turned the garden into a public park, Google wants to make world a national park. With Android, the open-source mobile operating system, Google wants to free up the mobile software market.