As the world said goodbye to 2017, it’s amazing to think just how much happened in tech that year: From the new U.S. president making tweeting a partisan issue, a once-geeky cryptocurrency called bitcoin seeing its value blow the roof, to across several industries, long-whispered stories of sexual harassment and culture problems finally being spoken out loud.
Here’s our list of the 10 most exciting tech news of 2017, enjoy.
10. The Big Product Launches
Starting things off on a positive note, our 10th-most-important story of 2017 was the arrival of several major consumer products: Tesla launched the Model 3 (although deliveries are behind schedule); Samsung launched two phones (and neither of them exploded, thank God!); and Amazon and Google went in headfirst into hardware. Without a doubt, our highlight was the long anticipated launch of the new iPhone X
Coming 10 years after Apple launched its flagship device the iPhone X was received with mixed feelings, first was the many glitches that were evident right at the product launch then getting accustomed to not having a home button. This has proven a challenge for even seasoned iPhone users on things like getting rid of screens or simply coming out of one. That aside the phone is all glass, comes with lots of bells and whistles and is also a good size. It might not be the smoothest transition for many but keep in mind there is a learning curve to everything.
9. Amazon Is Taking Over the World
Amazon did extremely well in 2017, they had their hand in almost everything you can imagine. In apparel, the e-commerce behemoth long ago surpassed Macy’s as the biggest retailer in the category, but now boasts multiple billion-dollar clothing brands of its own, too.
Amazon Alexa, the popular voice assistant, has overtaken Google as the most-used search engine — or voice engine, as they now say. It’s everywhere and powering the brains of everything.
Yet those weren’t even the highlights of Amazon’s year, their CEO Jeff Bezos, the architect and leader of this business for the last 23 years, reached deep into the heart of the grocery industry and snatched a challenged Whole Foods off the sale rack for nearly $14 billion.
Yes, the deal was big. Yes, it was bold. More surprising to me, though, was the rare public white flag waved by Bezos, one of the richest humans alive, by looking to a brick-and-mortar retailer for help; after 10 years of trying and mostly failing at making grocery delivery a workable business, this was a “We can’t do this on our own” moment.
Amazon also unveiled a barrage of Alexa-powered devices and splashy TV campaigns, spinning the ridiculous idea of talking to a speaker into the future of computing.
I could go on and on about Amazon’s 2017 triumphs but I’m sure you get the gist.
8. “Fake News” and Trump on Twitter
What happens when your favorite social media site is overrun with politics? That’s a question Twitter power users have been wrestling with all year, as the most influential tweeter, U.S. President Donald Trump, has turned the service into his personal bully pulpit.
With that came the abuse of the phrase “Fake News” which in simple terms undermines the credibility of the mainstream media and has been President Trump’s go to phrase. It was so bad that at some point a former Twitter employee “temporarily” suspended President Trump’s account and later said it was a mistake.
7. Tech’s Mixed Bag of IPOs
Amazingly there weren’t many new start ups on the tech side in 2017 but there is a few of the few that are worth mentioning. The four we chose are Blue Apron, Snap, Roku and Stitch Fix. Although it’s too early to say what will happen to Stitch Fix, which went public in November, CEO Katrina Lake has already become an important symbol for female entrepreneurs.
6. Russia and Their Gadgets
Think of something “untoward” that happened on the internet in 2017, and there’s a good chance that Russia was involved in some way. But as congressional and internal investigations into the country’s 2016 election meddling continue, we may have to accept that we may never know just how much the Kremlin-affiliated Internet Research Agency has done or is doing to the web.
Though we have stats from Facebook, Twitter and Google’s testimony to Congress, there really isn’t any real proof to show the actual extent of their reach and the amount of damage that could have been caused.
5. Virtual Reality
VR is finally here and while the launch of head-mounted displays (HMDs) hasn’t been without plenty of problems, there are enough options on every front to give the technology a chance to truly get into the hands of nearly everyone. If you’ve already taken the dive, you probably know how cool VR can be, but we’re still just skimming the surface of what’s actually possible.
This year could be make or break for VR though. Now that PC-based HMDs like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, along with mobile sets like the Gear VR and, of course, Playstation’s VR have been out long enough for developers to really start to unlock their potential, 2017 should really let VR shine with innovation.
Microsoft did not makie any console-related VR announcements until they were ready to talk about their super-enhanced Xbox One (their so-called ‘Project Scorpio’), but Sony jumped right in with their PS VR. 2017 was also the year Google really showed off their mobile VR platform, Daydream, as more phone makers release compatible devices. Daydream was also supposed to give Samsung a good push to evolve their Gear VR platform for this year.
4. Bitcoin and “Cryptomania”
Imagine an alternative to money that is out of the hands of banks and governments, that can be accessed virtually anywhere via internet. That and many other factors led to the interest in bitcoin and other “cryptocurrencies” going mainstream in 2017, sending the price of bitcoin up from underneath $1,000 at the start of the year to more than $24,000.
This has caused a surge in internet activity world over as people are slowly moving from stock investment to cryptocurrencies, but this again has also caused a rise in scammers and people losing hard earned money.
3. The Tech Backlash
You might not have heard about it, but there was a WiFi connected juicer that used single-serving packets of chopped fruit and vegetables sold exclusively by a company called Juicero through a subscription program. The Juicero Press launched at a stunning $700 a piece and came with fruit and veg packs that had to be scanned through a QR reader before being used in the press.
Due to slow sales of the expensive device, prices went down to $399 but that wasn’t their only problem. Experts began to scrutinise the juicer and found out it was not a necessary device as the contents of the packets could actually be squeezed by hand with very similar results as using the juicer.
On September 1, 2017, the company announced that it was suspending sales of the juicer and the packets, repurchasing the juicer from its customers and searching for a buyer for the company and its intellectual property. This is after they had received $120 million in start up venture capital just 3 years earlier. I guess Silicon Valley isn’t as easy to be part of as people make it seem to be.
The viral hashtag MeToo came after the explosion of stories shared by harassment and discrimination victims on Twitter and Facebook. This was in the back drop of many high profile celebrities had also been caught up in these harassment scandals.
2017 was the year the lid was blown open on all kinds of harassment issues, not just tech, but media and across other industries too. The question is we don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it seems likely to get worse in 2018.
Scandal after scandal rocked the former darling company of Silicon Valley from an executive shakeup, pending lawsuits to the belated disclosure of a major hack of their driver database.
In positive news though, SoftBank, a Japanese telecom giant and its co-investors successfully acquired 18 percent of Uber, a major victory for Uber’s new CEO and one that will give billions of dollars in cash to some of the company’s earliest investors and employees. SoftBank will occupy two seats on the company’s board and will now be an extremely influential player in decisions at Uber.
Hope you enjoyed our compilation, please leave us a comment if we left out anything of interest.