What mattered in tech in 2011 and how will that affect status quo in 2012?

2011 in technology and what it means for 2012

Yes, this is yet another list if you see it that way. But I am not here to list the top 10 whatever. Rather, this post is about the things that mattered in tech in 2011, in a way that will possibly shape 2012 and beyond. So here we go.

The Cool Stuff:

  • iPad2 arrived. The original iPad launched a new product category in 2011. iPad2 sealed it for Apple. Expect an iPad3 in 2012 with some new awesomeness.
  • LTE deployment went truly nationwide with Verizon’s aggressive push. ATT joined the bandwagon towards the end of the year. Data rates are challenging those offered by Comcast to its home cable customers. With both carriers offering LTE in Cupertino, expect an LTE iOS device in 2012.
  • Windows Phone offered a real meaningful alternative to iOS and Android with its Mango update. Still no takers. Will Nokia change the ballgame for MS in 2012?. Probably in Asia and Europe. Not in the US.
  • Siri– Never before has voice recognition tech gone so mainstream with a category leading device. A big leap forward. Expect Siri to get better in 2012 as it builds its database with more usage.
  • A social Google and leaner at that. Google shrugged off a bunch of experimental products and put its weight behind a new CEO and a social product, Google+. I believe 2012 will be when all of Google aligns around Google+.
  • Cloud Computing officially became a necessary part of every major technology product. It is no longer an after thought. Expect it to be bigger and cooler in 2012.
  • Google Chrome grew from strength, even as Microsoft launched its most meaningful IE with IE9. Chromebooks, interesting but still not mainstream. Expect IE to continue to lose marketshare to Safari (on mobile), Chrome (on PC) and Firefox (everywhere).
  • html5- If you haven’t heard about it yet, you will hear a lot of it in 2012. There will be some hype but this is the next big step.
  • Ultrabooks- Intel finally gave its complaining OEMs a way to fight the continuing success of MacBooks (Pro and Air) with the Ultrabook line. This will be a big story in 2012- not in the front pages but in its proliferation.
  • Spotify arrived in the US. I am still enamored. And it is still awesome.

The Not so cool Stuff:

  • Netflix totally lost its way. I could write a lot about each and every misstep. Suffice to say, that ship has sailed. Expect the going to be tougher for Netflix in 2012 with more competition and higher content costs.
  • Research in Motion- have you see the train wreck that is RIMM, the stock and RIM, the company. This is one of the worst tech stories that unfolded in 2011. It is not getting any better in 2012.
  • Adobe Flash- a big standoff with Apple didn’t work favorably for Adobe and Flash is on its way out. Expect Adobe to do better in 2012, now that it has formally called it quits on Flash.
  • Siri- have you ever tried using it beyond the initial gimmicky questions?. The tech is definitely not mature for day to day use beyond adding reminders and todo lists. It will definitely get better but it is ways off before it can be trusted for regular use. Expect Apple and the media to continue to hype what is truly an alpha product.
  • iPhone 4S– for all the Apple fanboys who offer explanations on how awesome the new camera is and Siri, the product refresh was trivial and not worth it. I moved from iOS to Android. Expect iPhone5 next year with lots of hype and a cool redesign.
  • Tiered data plans- Sprint notwithstanding, tiered data plans are here to stay. Even if LTE gives you 20Mbps DL, there is only so much you can get out of a 2GB/month plan. And this is not going to get any better.
  • Honeycomb- Android OS Honeycomb was a rushed and half baked product. A me-too in the face of iPad. Thankfully Google started fixing this misstep with a year end launch of Ice-Cream Sandwich. ICS is definitely the right step forward for Android developers wanting to integrate their phone and tablet app offerings.
  • Nokia- the platform was burning and a CEO went to his mothership in what was a questionable move to say the least. That said, the Nokia Windows Phone devices have started hitting the market and while Nokia is just a pale shadow of its formal self, the company itself will survive with this move to Windows Phone OS.
  • MacOS Lion- it was not worth it, even for $29. It dramatically slowed down my 1 year old MBP which was doing great with Snow Leopard. Apple apologists aside, this was as Apple unlike a product I have seen in the last few years.
  • iOS5 launch- Another event that belied my faith in Apple. 6-8 hours for  an OS upgrade that crashed servers and resulted in a massive outpouring in twitter. As always, Apple didn’t apologize for the lousy launch of what was an otherwise good upgrade to the platform. Expect that to not change, ever.
  • webOS or “how to kill a promising platform”- HP and its then CEO, Leo Apothekar did everything in their power and succeeded in killing a promising platform in webOS. I don’t expect Whitman to change things for the better. HP is in a decline and its about to get worse before hopefully getting better in the not so near future.
  • Groupon IPO– yes, it happened. But thats about the only good part about it. Everything else was shrouded in confusion, legalese and mystery. Not to mention, a lot of the bizarre. Expect the stock to go nowhere in 2012.

Who we lost in 2011?

  •  The death of Steve Jobs is undeniably the event that shook the tech industry in 2011. It wasn’t all that surprising given his health problems of late but it was still way too soon for the industry to lose a visionary. He will be sorely missed.
  •  The death of Dennis Ritchie, the father of C programming language and Unix OS. In a way, he built the foundation that helped Jobs build some of his cool products.

Other notable deaths in tech for 2011 are listed here.