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Business Management

2015's Big News

Re-org mergers and splits

The tech bubble hasn’t burst yet. But big changes have been afoot over the last year. The Dell/EMC merger was by far the biggest.

Elsewhere, HP’s split into two entities became official and Google had a surprise reorganization. Google is now merely the world’s biggest search engine, owner of the world’s biggest mobile OS and provider of online services, software and a barren social network. Its parent company, Alphabet, is now the owner of all the fun things; the robotics, the moonshots, the life sciences, the VC fund, the smart home stuff etc. Whether this was to give more people the title of CEO of different units or a glorious tax/regulation dodge, we don’t know.

Bitcoin’s late comeback

It’s been a funny old year for Bitcoin. While the value of the world’s premier cryptocurrency slowly declined, the technology behind it grew. Microsoft started to offer Blockchain as a Service, while IBM began experimenting with its own variation of the technology. Various experts, analysts etc. predict a rosy future for it, even going so far as predicting Bitcoin/Blockchain Unicorns in 2016.

The hunt to find Satoshi Nakamoto – aka the creator of Bitcoin – also took a new turn. Is it 44-year-old Australian Chris Wright? Probably not. But it makes a good story.

Wearables

2015 saw the launch – and lacklustre adoption – of Apple’s Watch. While it probably made up around half of all smartwatch sales this year, the industry hasn’t taken off, smartwatches aren’t cool, and Apple continues to rely almost entirely on its iPhone sales.

However, new editions of the Pebble and Huawei watches showed the industry is at least starting to look like actual watches, rather than hockey pucks with straps.

2015 also saw traditional watch makers enter the fray. Tag Heuer made a fairly standard but very expensive Android watch that is reportedly doing well, while Fossil bought an activity–tracking startup that makes more hybrid models. It will be interesting to see which approach wins out and if any more will follow suit.

NSA

The battle over privacy and civil liberty continues. The NSA stopped, restarted and stopped mass data collection, the UK has the proposed Snooper’s Charter, numerous countries introduced their own snooping laws, some fought to keep the web open. It’s all a big mess really. 2016 will likely see further argument over backdoors, encryption and government access.

Politics

Trump wants Bill Gates to turn off the internet. Zoltan wants tech to make people live forever, and two former tech CEOs – John McAfee and HP’s Carly Fiorina – think they are qualified to run the country. The 2016 US Election is insane. Also one of the co-founders of Bebo started a pro-marijuana party in the UK. Strange times.

Driverless

Google might have created the cutest driverless car, but Elon Musk and Tesla are the ones who’ve released the technology to an unsuspecting world. Expect AI cars to be even bigger news in 2016.

Low cost computing and internet for all

The Raspberry Pi has sold over 5 million of its low cost boards. So what did it do? Release an even cheaper one. For just $5, you can own a Pi Zero. That’s actually cheaper than a raspberry pie. Elsewhere, Kickstarter saw a $9 computer on a chip and a $15 64-bit computer board, while smartphones have become so cheap you can buy them for just $10.

Mark Zuckerberg’s push to bring internet to the world continued with aplomb. Internet.org services expanded into Latin America, further into Africa, and most controversially, India, where it was met with resistance over Net Neutrality fears.

At the same time, plans to beam internet down from the sky continued with Facebook showing off their Aquila drones and Google announcing partners for its balloon-based Project Loon.

Data breaches

OPM. Ashley Madison. VTech. TalkTalk. Safe to say if there’s a company out there with your personal data, it was probably hacked in 2015. We may live in the age of cyberwars and hacktivists, but more often than not it’s poor security practices that are the root cause.

2015 also saw the appearance of Altruistic Malware. Viruses that invade your devices, clean up known vulnerabilities and patch the way they came in may sound nice, but who knows if there are ulterior motives at play.

Windows 10

2014 was all about the Windows XPocalypse. 2015 was all about Windows 10. Less ugly than 8/8.1, with all the behind the scenes gubbins that make IT guys happy, it’s seen good traction so far. Whether the mobile edition will change things is yet to be seen.

Google may have retired its much-maligned Glass headwear – from the public at least – but Microsoft’s HoloLens looks even more fun. It also promises to be three the times the price at $3000.

Drones

This Christmas will see over a million drones take to the sky. But very few will be making money. Aside from the new registration fee, there’s still no flying beyond line of sight for UAV pilots, commercial or otherwise. And until that happens, a proper drone industry we won’t see.

Indiana

The US State of Indiana tried to introduce some rules that would allow companies to discriminate against LGBT people. The tech industry wasn’t happy and threats of boycotts were made. Nice to see tech stand up for what’s right.

Tech Isle

What shall we do will a little island just of the coast of Copenhagen? Turn it into a startup hub! It would have been a magical place, but unfortunately the Scout Association had other ideas and spoiled the party.

Metallica played a Salesforce event

Once the best metal band in the world. Now a band for hire at Marc Benioff’s behest.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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