The Year in Review: Top 6 Technology Trends of 2014
Looking back at 2014, the year brought us plenty of headlines from the tech sector — both positive and negative.
From the debut of new devices like the iPhone 6 and OnePlus One, to amazing advancements in the fields of wearable tech and virtual reality, to enormous data breaches at major companies including Sony Pictures, 2014 was full of incremental developments impacting every aspect of our life.
Reviewing the year to have a look at what just happened will help us look forward and foresee what is going to happen. So I’ve prepared my own list of the most important strategic technology trends and their related news stories that made headlines in 2014. Here you go:
1. Cloud Computing and Big Data
The 2014 was a huge year for the big data market. Many tech firms moved into the cloud in a big way, and those already established players in the field really stepped up their game to get firm roots into the hot technology. Here are some stories from the past year that show the paradigm shifts.
» Since Satya Nadella took the reigns at Microsoft in February, the company has been shifting its focus to the cloud and mobile domains. The recently launched data-centric products such as Cortana, Skype Translate and Azure Machine Learning give an obvious glimpse at its future approach.
» IBM made a huge push to expand its new Watson division. The company collaborated with a handful of partners to build applications atop of its Watson cloud and even launched a user-friendly analytics service, hoping for its furistic AI service to become an ultimate solution for enterprise businesses.
» Salesforce released a universal file sharing service Files Connect. It provides a single access point to file repositories making it easier for users to access files directly from Salesforce without the need to move them from their original location.
» Google and Adobe also made cloud-based acquisitions of their own; Google acquired artificial intelligence company DeepMind while Adobe snatched up an editing app company Aviary.
2. Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things – a scenerio of interconnecting everyday objects within the existing Internet infrastructure – clearly gained momentum in 2014, with several new enterprises who invested in the latest trend helping speed its development. Here are the top headlines from the growing IoT world:
» Intel introduced its new IoT Platform
» Microsoft also made its ambitions in the domain by joining AllSeen Alliance, an open-source project founded on Qualcomm technology
» New York startup LittleBits introduced a module to let DIYers build their own Smart Home
» Samsung, Intel and Dell joined forces to launch the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) in order to set standards for connecting innumerable IoT gadgets and appliances
» Cisco announced it would invest $150 million in its IoT efforts
Although IoT gained the attention of industry tech leaders, consumers seemed concerned about privacy and security, which they still are.
3. Wearable Tech
Lots of wearable devices, especially smartwatches, were manufactured and brought to the market last year. Motorola Moto 360, LG G Watch R, Samsung Gear S and Asus ZenWatch were among the top smartwatches of 2014, but the winner in this category of devices has been the Pebble Steel.
The Steel features a pretty decent design and runs the software which works with both iPhones and Android smartphones.
Apple also made a big headline announcing its Apple Watch at its keynote address in September, though it’s expected to go on sale in early 2015.
Talking about fitness trackers, Microsoft released its wearable device called Microsoft Band, which will work with devices running iOS, Android and, of course, Windows Phone.
4. Bigger Phones, or simply… The Phablets
Smartphones seemed to have ‘officially’ increased in size in 2014 as both Apple and Google made their debut in the phablet category last year.
Apple has long stuck to smaller display handsets but it finally saw the trend and released the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. Google launched the Nexus 6, which even surpassed the iPhone 6 Plus with its 5.9-inch display. Samsung came up with its 5.6-inch sleek, curved screen phablet, the Note Edge, while the last years’s most surprising hit Android phone, OnePlus One, featured 5.5-inch display.
There is no stopping to this big phone trend yet.
5. The Net Neutrality Debate
The net neutrality has been one of the hot debates of 2014, and it even became a national political issue when US President Barack Obama asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to classify Internet as a utility, under Title II Telecommunications act.
Tech companies, including Google and Facebook, along with the public and the White House, spoke loudly in favor of net neutrality. They believe the “fast-lane” Internet setup would leave a majority of people stuck with the slow service and hinder the innovation process.
On the other hand, the carriers and cable companies like the Comcast and AT&T, oppose the idea because they want to be able to charge money for internet fast-lanes.
It’s still unclear how the idea will resolve itself.
6. Cybercrime and Security
Cybercrime and hacking has always been the worst nightmares for any company, and this nightmare turned into reality for many big companies in 2014. Even several government agencies became the victims of serious cyberattacks.
Hundreds of millions of records were leaked through data breaches, and they were seemingly made possible as a result of lax approach to data security. Here are the most notable hacking stories of the past year.
» JPMorgan’s credit card hack affected around 80 million U.S. households, and 7 million small to medium-sized businesses, making it one of the largest data breaches in history.
» Hackers hit eBay in May and stole login credentials of more than 145 million users. Later, eBay revealed it took a $200 million hit to its annual revenue as a result of the massive hack.
» An enormous, 13-gigabyte Snapchat data, including photos and videos, was stolen and posted by hackers to image-sharing site 4chan. Third-party sketchy Snapchat backup services were blamed for the leakage of the data. Snapchat cautioned its 100 million active users to stay clear of such unauthorized services.
» More than a hundred private photos of Hollywood celebrities, some extremely explicit, were leaked amid alleged iCloud hack. Apple, however, denied any breach of its systems, but called it a “very targeted attack” that focused on compromising the login credentials of certain accounts of Hollywood celebrities.
» A cyber intrusion in November shut down the computer systems of Sony Pictures and leaked a handful of its upcoming films online, along with exposing the personal information, including salary figures, of the studio’s employees and Hollywood talent. The FBI concluded in its investigation that North Korea was behind the hack attack, but N. Korea has denied any involvement.
Cybersecurity analysts are predicting more accidents in future. This is because of the fact that as we get more connected than ever, we are more vulnerable.
Well, that were the most important technology headlines of 2014, according to me. I tried my best to keep the list comprehensive, and accurate, but still I might have missed out some important things. If you think of any of such stuff, share it in the comments below!
Gohar is the lead editor at TechFrag. He has a wide range of interests when it comes to tech but he's currently spending a big chunk of his time writing about privacy, cyber security, and anything policy related.