Well it’s a wrap for the year 2011. What a year this has been. I look back at what it is that made the year notable in the tech scene both locally and internationally. There’s a lot to mention but since I’ve focused a on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets and stuff) and their corresponding manufactures and their operating systems, this will take a size-able chunk of my review of the year 2011. Kindly read on.
In 2011, the social media scene really picked up in Kenya. I can tell this because a large number of the Kenyan youth mostly those in high school in major towns in Kenya and the ones in university have totally embraced social networking. Facebook which actually dominated a lot in the year 2010 has actually been joined at the top of the table by micro-blogging site Twitter which has actually grown in popularity in Kenya. So much that the who is who in Kenya are joining Twitter in droves each passing day. Even though social media and it’s increased usage has been blamed in some instances, the growth of social networks is something that I view as positive progress in any nation. Remove the cyber-bullying and addiction aspect and you have a very helpful medium of communication. The Kenya Red Cross has been using iVolunteers on Twitter to quickly spread word about any incidents or accidents and also to generally create awareness on a variety of issues like road safety. An initiative called Wanadamu has also used Twitter to help those in dire need of blood during emergency situations countrywide. These are some of the few notable cases where social media has been used effectively to advance helpful causes. Well, I specifically skipped mention of the hugely successful #Kenyans4Kenya campaign because I had already covered it extensively here. That Kenyans for Kenya initiative was a big big plus for social media. Things are obviously looking good for social media in Kenya.
That was Kenya, what about the rest of the world. How did it use social media to advance various interests in 2011? The Arab Spring comes to mind here. People in Egypt and Tunisia used social networking sites and video sharing sites to topple dictators. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook were very instrumental. People used social media to organize protests that have brought a lot of change in the Arab world that has had far reaching effects to the rest of the world. Even though Research In Motion has not had a very good year in terms of sales and profits, it’s popular messenger application, the Blackberry messenger or BBM as it is fondly called was at the heart of the organizing of the London protests.
On the new kids on the block, a new social network was born: Google’s Google+. Google+ introduced the concept of circles and has grown from strength to strength passing the 62 million user mark early this week. It is one social network to watch in 2012.
A developer’s preview of Microsoft’s upcoming operating system, Windows 8 was also released. 2011 should be the year the Metro interface becomes the standard desktop interface on Windows-powered personal computers though that in itself is a tall order.
Once again, technology was at the forefront of new delivery in the year 2011. Even though at times some tweeps missed it by killing famous people like Nelson Mandela with false death reports, its been way too rosy for news on Twitter. Someone live tweeted the Bin laden raid unawares. The whole world took to social networks to react to news of the death of the world’s most wanted man. This is not only a big thing in 2011 but revolutionary in all aspects of news delivery, in fact it has thinned the line between social media and mainstream journalism. The capture and death of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi evoked nearly the same reaction across all social networks. A lot of buzz also went round on the british royal wedding.
Various mobile and other computing devices premiered in 2011 or officially shipped in 2011 after late 2010 announcements. Many went ahead to make a big impact and caused heavy ripples in the tech scene. Others were total game changers. Take apple for example, it debuted two new iDevices in 2011 that can by any means be said to have been a great success. The iPad 2 unveiled around mid 2011 received a lot of acclaim and did well in the markets. Though most tech bloggers were disappointed that Apple actually debuted a revamped version of the iPhone 4 in the iPhone 4S, the 4S has gone ahead to make similarly impressive sales and kept apple at the apex in terms of success in the mobile computing arena though Samsung with it’s sleek range of Galaxy smartphones and tablets has made more sales also. The iPhone 4S which I recently looked at keenly here introduced what has kept avid and sworn Apple fan-boys filling up Apple Stores worldwide with it’s intelligent virtual voice assistant, Siri.
Talking of Samsung, well it’s safe to conclude this was their year. The Samsung Galaxy S 2 was a great market success. The same is expected to be the case with the recently launched Galaxy Nexus which is the first device on the Android platform to pack Google’s latest version of its popular mobile operating system, Android, the Android 4.0 codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich.
Riding on success in 2011 was Amazon with it’s $199 e-book reader, the Kindle Fire. The reader has been so successful that some market analysts and tech bloggers are arguing out that it was the only serious threat to the iPad 2 since the uptake of the Galaxy Tabs from Samsung has been dogged by numerous lawsuits from Apple that have seen the device banned in some niche markets like Germany.
For Nokia and Research In Motion, 2011 hasn’t been all rosy in as far as the cash flowing into their accounts is concerned. Nokia’s market share and profits have dipped while the same is the case with the Blackberry maker, RIM. Nokia’s fortunes could change in the new year as it looks forward to capitalize on the products of its partnership with Microsoft with it’s new range of Windows Phone 7 smartphones like the Lumia 800 and thre’s been word going around that a tablet is on the way.
It was also not a good year (mobile wise) for Hewlett-Packard who abandoned and then re-adopted their webOS that powered their flagship tablet computer, the HP TouchPad.
Locally, Huawei, the Chinese phone maker had a great year with it’s $100 entry-level smartphone, the Huawei IDEOS U8150 selling over 130,000 units. The IDEOS was and still is a game changer in terms of the uptake of smartphones in Kenya and more importantly the penetration of the Android operating system in the Kenyan market which has largely been a haven of Finnish giant Nokia and it’s plethora of feature phones and few Symbian-powered smart devices. The impact of the IDEOS will lead to much more smartphones being bought in Kenya in the coming year.
There was just no way I wouldn’t have mentioned this. Cloud computing was a big word in 2011. So many strides were made and this is one of the main areas where there will be significant progress made in 2011. Getting all the important stuff in the cloud will soon be everyone’s priority. It’s according to me one o the greatest strides in the tech scene in recent times. Not only does embracing cloud computing lead to convenience, it is also budget-effective more-so for small and medium enterprises who need not invest in a lot of expensive stuff like servers. Even though many are reluctant to accept the security status of the cloud, the security risks aren’t such a big issue if the service provider is reliable. From that small web-mail account you run to those big files in your company, we need the cloud and today is the time to embrace the cloud.
Well there were many deaths in the tech scene but I’ll only focus on two.
Steve Jobs: the whole world mourned the passing away of the visionary and legendary co-founder, former CEO and Chairman of the most valuable technology company in the world, Apple Inc. I already wrote a tribute to him here. His death is actually one of the biggest stories of 2011.
Dennis Ritchie: well, many may not be familiar with him but this man who passed on barely a few days after Jobs was the father of the C programming language (which I am learning today). He was also the co-inventor of the UNIX operating system.
The year has had a mixed outlook but then again that’s why it’s ending and 2012 is ready to take us to the unknown and the known.