News roundup: 2017
Business Management

News roundup: 2017

The last 12 months in technology have been pretty eventful. Here’s some of the biggest news and trends in tech from 2017.

 

Politics

President Donald Trump’s first year in the White House has been eventful if nothing else. Technology companies have railed against immigration bans, rolling back trade agreements and environmental laws, and quit advisory councils en masse in the light of his Charlottesville comments.

Suggestions that Russia bought ads on platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter ended with a Senate hearing, and the revelation that foreign propaganda around the time of the US elections reached millions of people. President Trump was right about there being a fake news problem, but he keeps getting the culprits wrong.

The tech-centric pirate party made major gains in Iceland [though the following election saw them lose ground] and gain seats in other parts of Europe.

 

Security: Big vulnerabilities, big attacks

It’s been a bad year for security. From WannaCry and NotPetya to the KRACK and BlueBorne, and even that hacker who made 150,000 printers churn out ASCII art, 2017 has been a year of massive vulnerabilities being found and massive, widespread attacks being successful.

Mega-breaches are becoming so commonplace you have to wonder when they stop becoming mega: Equifax, Uber, Yahoo, Verifone, the list goes on. Firefox’s new tool which lets you know when visiting a site that’s suffered a known data breach might be better off saying when a site hasn’t been hacked.

The guy who stopped WannaCry was arrested in the US on cyber-crime charges around creating the Kronos banking trojan. He is still awaiting trial, but seems to be enjoying life in California. 

Kaspersky has spent the entire year being accused of aiding Russian Intelligence in all kinds of subterfuge and hacking, has been banned from most US government computers, only for it to be revealed by WikiLeaks that the CIA has the capability to fake Kaspersky certificates.

China and Russia started cracking down on VPNs, banning any personal VPN operating without a license. And obviously any terrorist attack in the Western world inevitably caused politicians to blame encryption as a major enabler of violence.

Companies finally realised they should be talking about GDPR.

 

Social media woes

On top of its failure to sell 30 million-odd pairs of Spectacles, Snap Inc. has suffered from a death by a thousand cuts at the hands of the Zuckerberg empire. FB, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram have all aped Snapchat’s core features over the last 12 months, with the latter now surpassing Snapchat’s market share.

Facebook hasn’t had everything its own way though. Russian influence over election ads, violence in its live videos, the usual amount of abuse and harassment online, plus the inevitable feeling that Mark Zuckerberg will be making a run to the White House in the not too distant future.

Twitter still can’t find a profit, a business strategy that works, or a way to deal with hate, harassment, or any of the other crap that goes on there. But it still won’t be surpassed by Mastodon any time soon.

 

Mega-acquisitions

Some of the big buy-outs of the year included HPE splashing out for Nimble, Cisco snapping up AppDynamics, Intel buying MobileEye, Century Link snapping up Level 3 Communications, SAP cough up for Gigya, and Google deciding it liked having a mobile maker again and getting its hands on HTC’s phone biz.

Broadcom tried to buy Qualcomm for an eye-watering $100 billion. Qualcomm refused the initial offer and although Broadcom says it will table another, it has yet to do so at the time of writing.  

Amazon acquired WholeFoods, and now seemingly injects fear into every market it so much as takes a fleeting interest in. Hitachi Data Systems, Hitachi Insight Group, and Pentaho were all rolled into Hitachi Vantara. And SoftBank spent money like it was going out of fashion, with promises that it plans to create more Visions funds that could total hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of investments.

Much like last year, the big M&A trend this year has been buying AI nous. Almost every company – from Cisco to Apple to tractor-maker John Deere to Boeing – has been hankering for some Machine or Deep Learning knowhow and not been afraid to spend to get it.

 

AR & voice get a boost

Amazon’s Alexa was crammed into pretty much everything, with Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant starting to put themselves out there in own-brand and partner devices. Apple delayed Siri and the Home pod. Bixby tried.

We still haven’t seen what Magic Leap’s hardware actually looks like, but Microsoft did launch a Mixed Reality series of headsets with the likes of Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Apple and Google released ARkit and ARcore, giving developers the chance to bring decent Augmented experiences to mobile devices.

 

Bitcoin

$2,000! No, $4000! I mean $8,000! Make it $9,000. The value of the premier cryptocurrency Bitcoin has shot up at an astronomical rate, hitting new record highs on a seemingly weekly basis. While at the same time dropping in value massively at random intervals. Actually buying anything with Bitcoin seems absurd these days, and these days it’s more akin to a commodities investment.

Blockchain however, has been pootling along nicely, with companies of all shapes and sizes looking at how they can integrate distributed ledger technology into operations and offerings.

 

Hardware and the return of old names

The Psion PDA is coming back under the Gemini guise. BlackBerry and Nokia make a mobile comeback, while Palm is also rumoured to be returning as a smartphone. Andy Rubin revealed the ‘Essential phone’. Red and Solarin Labs both announced expensive high-end devices.

An IoT version of almost every device known to man appeared on the market. Samsung’s new strategy of phones with exploding batteries turned out not to be the best, but at least they recycled the devices themselves after some prompting by Greenpeace.

 

Tech leaders make questionable decisions

Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski founded an AI-centric religion. John McAfee claimed the Belize Government and the Cartel were trying to kidnap him. Uber’s Travis Kalanick generally just didn’t make many good decisions this year. Snap Inc’s Evan Spiegel made some unwise comments about India. Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am put previous tech failures behind him and made a play for the enterprise space. But at least headlines about Peter Theil absorbing the blood of the young were noticeably absent.

 

Boston Dynamic’s robot did a black flip

And it was epic.

 

Jack Ma did a Michael Jackson dance routine

He’s also going to be in a martial arts movie.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect. Writes about all manner of tech from driverless cars, AI, and Green IT to Cloudy stuff, security, and IoT. Dislikes autoplay ads/videos and garbage written about 'milliennials'.  

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