In terms of technological highlights and the breakthrough of gadgets and applications, 2009 was one of the most packed year in the history of tech and has helped shaped our present today.
This was the year when smartphones took off with the application market becoming worth over a $1 billion, everyone and his dog begam to ‘tweet’, Microsoft didn’t drop the ball with Windows 7, Spotify changed how we listen to music, and real-time search became the new goal for software giants the world round.
The best online technology of 2009 that shaped the future
1. Twitter dominates
Last year barely anyone had heard of it (apart from Stephen Fry), today is in the world’s lexicon and has even been added to the Oxford dictionary (as well as being named the year’s most popular word).
Normally associated with celebrities or political gaffes, Twitter messages – or tweets – are now used as sources by major news outlets, and the likes of the BBC and Sky now have Twitter correspondents.
Even the world’s most powerful man, President Obama, courted controversy when he said he didn’t tweet, preferring instead to use his Blackberry. However its popularity cannot be sniffed at, with both Google and Microsoft’s Bing securing deals with the social networking platform in order to boost their real time search results.
Whether you can’t get enough of the service or think its the refuse of people with too much time on their hands, you cannot ignore the rate at which Twitter has gone mainstream.
2. The smartphone revolution
Of course, Twitter would probably have not been anywhere as popular without the growth in the smartphone market. This time back in 2008, there was merely the Blackberry and the iPhone, but now the market is awash with 4G devices.
Apple’s iPhone, in fact, became so popular that when the two year exclusivity deal with O2 ended, providers were falling over themselves to secure exclusivity. Eventually, Orange, Vodaphone and Tesco secured deals.
Today, the application market, which has proved to be the cornerstone of smartphones’ popularity, is worth over a $1 billion with Google’s Android Marketplace attempting to rival Apple’s; whilst Orange, Nokia, Samsung and BlackBerry all try to stay in the race with their own app stores. With apps ranging from GPS programs to ‘finding the nearest ATM’, app stores have enabled smartphones to be ever-growing and ever-changing portable devices.
What’s more, the growth in smartphones also saw a change in operating systems. Whereas once the iPhone could claim it has the sleekest operating system on the market, Google’s Android soon changed that.
With a great user interface featuring seamless integration with Google services and super fast load times, as well as an ever growing application store, Apple now faces some serious competition in Google’s smartphones that could very well dominate the market next year.
3. Real-time searches
Another reaction to Twitter’s rise in popularity is that the likes of Google and other search engines rapidly began to look out of date when news stations and the like began to pick up news stories from users’ tweets.
This was highlighted in both the Hudson River plane crash and the Mumbai terror attacks, when both stories were broken on Twitter from users who had witnessed the events.
As such, both Google and Bing have been securing real-time search elements, mainly by signed deals with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace in order to have ‘real-time’ results integrated into their search indexes.
4. Entertainment on the go
It was not just the growth of video-on-demand technology that defined 2009, but also music streaming services.
Whereas once industries were worried about illegal downloads, now the likes of Spotify have enabled users to simply stream the music they want to listen to without the need for downloading.
Its popularity, including a smartphone application, has peeked the interest of music and video industries who are now contemplating embracing the idea of having music collections in a cloud network as opposed to simply being on your home computer or portable device. In fact, in some circles, cloud computing was been described as “the most strategic technology for 2010.”
Meanwhile, movie companies have released major film releases such as Star Trek and Harry Potter on VOD on the same day as DVD/Blu-Ray releases. Enabling the likes of Netflix, PS3 and XBox users to download or stream the films directly. Just goes to show how far video-on-demand has come in the last 12 months.
In the UK, every major British broadcaster have developed their own online player and some, namely Channel 4, have signed deals with YouTube to get their content shown worldwide. Meanwhile, MSN Video, Arqiva’s SeeSaw and Blinkbox have all expanded their services according to match increased demand.
5. Return of the King
2009 also saw the return of the world’s largest software company to the top of their game.
Dragged over the coals for Windows Vista and criticized for ridiculous gizmos like the MSN Smart Watch, Microsoft had a lot to live up to with the release of Windows 7.
They needn’t have worried. With a slick advertising campaign, successful beta tests and queues of consumers on opening day, Windows 7 proved to be a massive hit.
So what does the future hold for us?
While mobile smart-technology may have soared this year, expect it to get even better next year. Augmented reality applications will be common place, with your phone being able to tell you the history of a building by you taking a picture of it, or even telling you if it’s available for purchase.
Also, expect netbooks to become almost as popular as PCs. Currently a quarter of all PC sales are now netbooks, but next year this will no doubt increase as people demand the diversity of their home computer, but with the portability of their smartphone.
With wi-fi becoming more and more commonplace in public, real-time searches keeping us up to date with by-the-second news and smartphones enabling us to do anything we want on the move, expect next year to take it to the next level.