2014: Top Ten Tech Trends

2014 was quite a year for tech! Here, some of 2014’s top tech trends that stood out to me:

10) Acquisitions

2014 was a year of interesting acquisitions, including Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR, a virtual reality headset for gamers, and of Whatsapp. What does this mean for the social networking giant? According to the company’s young CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, the former is because Facebook wants to start building the next major computing platform and claims virtual reality is a “long term bet on the future of computing”.

And, what about the Whatsapp acquisition? Some may claim the latter is an irrelevant purchase that will see Whatsapp withering away as users leave the platform, while others may argue it’s a forward-thinking, strategic buy. Either way, Facebook now owns four of the most popular apps (Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook Messenger), so they’re doing something right…

9) Selfie Central

From the ridiculous selfies some teens take before their not-so-smart actions (almost cause enough to give up on humanity) to Ellen DeGeneres’s Oscar celebrity selfie (which crashed Twitter), taking, posting and tweeting selfies is a trend that’s here to stay. Not so keen on joining the selfie-fun? Don’t worry – over a million people each day have you covered, with millennials alone photographing themselves every third shot.

Oh, and are you interested in knowing which gender is more likely to re-touch a selfie? First prize goes to the males in the room; a survey reports 34% of men retouch their image versus 13% of women.

8) Mobile & Amazon’s Fire Phone

Keeping up with mobile trends, Amazon launched the Fire Phone in June 2014. However, tagging on to the success of Amazon’s popular Kindle wasn’t enough: the Fire Phone has not been able to keep up in a competitive market.

Sales were hugely disappointing, with only 101,500 purchases of the device globally. Just to put that in a bit of perspective: in 2007, the first Apple iPhone sold 700,000 units in its opening weekend alone.

7) Flappy Bird and other ‘useful’ apps

In line with the frenzy around Angry Bird, Flappy Bird was released by Vietnam-based developer Nguyễn Hà Đông (Dong Nyugen) in 2013, gaining popularity in 2014. It became the mostpopular free game in the iOS App Store and topped Google gaming searches. Interestingly, this bothered the creator, who ended up removing the app from Apple’s App Store and Google Play, as a result of feeling guilty for what he considered was overuse of the app by ‘addicted’ users.

Time will tell if the Angry Bird developers will follow suit, but it’s safe to say they are still quite chuffed to reap the benefits of their popular game…

6) ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

It would have been quite hard to miss the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which took Facebook by storm. More than 17 million Facebook users posted videos emptying – you guessed it – a bucket of ice cold water over themselves. The initiative raised millions of dollars in support of ALS.

5) The $150-billion IPO

On September 19th, 2014, Alibaba Group Holding Limited, a Chinese e-commerce company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals, went public. The company’s $150 billion IPO was the largest offering for a US-listed company in the history of the NYSE.

You tell me: is this a trend that will continue into 2015…?

4) Security as a Priority

Just this month, Sony Pictures Entertainment was the victim of a series of cyber attacks, leaving the company to shut down its computers. Employees’ personal information – email inboxes, home addresses, Social Security numbers – was leaked by a hacker group called “Guardians of Peace.”

Another reason Security is so much more than a buzz word!

3) 3D Printing

3D printing continued to be a trend in 2014 – its universality is appealing: anybody with a 3D printer could, in effect, print an object. 3D printing is finding its place in the health care space, but poses potential risks, as well.

Let’s see if 3D printing continues to take the tech world by storm; proof might be found in the 3D printing project that raised over $2.9 million on Kickstarter…

2) Natural Language

I wrote about how natural language is part of Watson’s skill set and throughout 2014, we’ve seen more searches working towards incorporating natural language (think: “Where’s the nearest café?”). What does this really mean? Through cognitive computing, we’re becoming even closer to our devices.

Not ready to sit down and have a chat with your iPhone yet? Then, take a look at this article on how Siri became an autistic boy’s best friend

1) Mobile Health

Mobile Health took a leap in 2014 – it’s finally everywhere. We’re proud that mGirls, the Girls & Football SA mHealth app we launched in July, now has 50,000 subscribers.

Options associated with mobile health care are endless: mobile apps, wearable technology, and electronic health records are just a few examples of how mobile is changing health. Mobile health offers those who may never have had access to proper health care before access to information and resources – in some cases on platforms that do not even require data or an Internet connection. Particularly in countries lacking internet infrastructure, this is groundbreaking.

Of all the trends listed here, Mobile Health is the trend I hope to see flourish in the new year. And you?

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