To say 2018 was monumental would just be an understatement. The year painted a clear and clever picture of our digital life. We all live on our smartphones and other digital devices and they serve as passport to our real life. This year, time and again, tech companies forced us to question whether they were really helping us lead a better life. With the year coming to an end, here is a list for the Best Reads of 2018.
1. Apple hits $1 trillion valuation, and Bezos nets $100 billion personal wealth
Apple became the first company in the world to reach $1 trillion market capitalization. The company beat Amazon, Google parent Alphabet and Microsoft to reach that milestone. The rise of Apple can be directly owed to the success of iPhone, which was launched first in 2007. The success of iPhone and devices like iPad show the creative genius of Steve Jobs and also, how his creative product thinking still drives the company to new success levels. Since touching $1 trillion market cap, Apple has conceded some ground and has even lost the crown to Microsoft, but it is still the company that is driving innovation.
While Apple became the first $1 trillion company, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos became the first person to hit $100 billion in personal net worth. The wealth has been amassed with his shares of Amazon, Inc. and since becoming the world’s richest person, he has invested on his space venture. Bezos is probably the most prolific CEO right now.
2. Facebook’s privacy dilemma and scrutiny around the world
There hasn’t been a story bigger than Facebook’s privacy dilemma. Since early this year, the social media giant and its founder Mark Zuckerberg have been promising to fix the issues but as we end this year, the company is nowhere closer to anything. It all started with Cambridge Analytica scandal in March but it only exploded as we heard about Facebook being used to spread misinformation and even the company exploiting its powers by sharing data with technology companies.
Facebook was created with a notion of connecting people and making the world a better place. As we end 2018, the real question is whether it is really doing any good? With #DeleteFacebook gaining momentum, Facebook would be wondering how to fix the issues that are routed in its design. In 2019, the larger question would be whether Zuckerberg is the right person to fix Facebook’s issues and whether his deputy COO Sheryl Sandberg can be trusted to do so.
3. 5G is almost here, but don’t get too excited
One thing is certain, 2019 will be the year of 5G. It is not going to flourish in markets like India but US, South Korea and China will have at least some form of 5G. There will be consumers experiencing gigabit data speeds on their smartphones. It will also lead to improved connectivity and consumers will have new ways to express themselves and connect with their loved ones. If you ever dreamed of streaming 8K video then 5G will make it possible and you have to wait probably a month or two more, to experience it in real life.
4. Security breaches are a new normal
There were security breaches and it happened left, right and center. Facebook told the world that data of 87 million users were exploited by a research firm named Cambridge Analytica in March. Back home, we heard stories about Aadhaar breach almost every other month. This raised concerns around the security layer that we have built for our digital systems and most importantly, do authorities designing them even care to make a secure and robust systems in the first place.
5. Drone for flood rescue
Drones were responsible for shutting down Gatwick Airport for good two days. This has led to new concerns around the state of drones but the real point to note is that drones can also come handy in scenarios one would not expect. For instance, during the Karnataka Floods, which destroyed the livelihood of a lot of people, an Indian company named IdeaForge came to the forefront with its industrial drone.
The drone was able to map the affected areas, and was also capable of sending real time data to authorities tasked with helping stranded people. There are drones being used and deployed to deliver blood in life saving situations. If 2019 will be about one thing then it will certainly about drone delivery and it will definitely be in good interest and not just fun or aerial photography.
6. Elon Musk was everywhere in 2018 and he divided the world
Did you think 2018 will end without us talking about Elon Musk? Musk is the real-life Iron Man and whether you like him or not, he has single handedly shaped the future of the planet. Musk has delivered on the promise of a mass market and accessible electric vehicle called Model 3 despite all the production hell. He has shown that a stage of rocket can not only be recovered but reused without any issue. He has also shown that solar panels can be designed in such a way that they look like roof and can be used to power homes around the world.
Just recently, he showed how the Boring company tunnel can be used to transport people and beat the traffic. In history books, he might go down as an innovator bigger than Alexander Graham Bell or Edison. He can even be compared to Einstein but the real deal is that Musk is fixing real world problems, and he will not rest until he sends humans to Mars and builds a habitat. Yes, he does make mistakes at times but that’s just his human side and he does not wield supernatural powers all the time.
7. #MeToo took down people with absolute powers and it’s just a start
If Facebook’s disastrous story ruled 2018, then #MeToo showed why social platforms are needed in the future. The combination of posts by women around the world highlighting bigotry and bad behavior of powerful men has led to a new world order. The stories of these women, who are even referred to as fighters, will serve as a testament to how people in absolute power should not exploit it. In fact, 2018 seems very much like a start, and 2019 will see more such men, who have tried to portray themselves as good natured, come out and accept their bad behavior.
8. Fortnite and PUBG became a commonplace
The world was bitten by two games, which share a basic element and principles called battle royale. Yes, we are talking about PUBG and Fortnite, the games played by over 200 million people everyday. The idea is very simple: you land on a stranger land, scavenge for weapons, cars and even habitat, and then kill any and everyone coming in your way.
Does not sound holy but a lot of people are smitten by it. When the world around you is violent in some ways, you tend to look for the same in games as well. Apart from the genre, PUBG and Fortnite have also shown new ways to engage people and reach audiences previously untapped. In 2019, this trend is expected to grow further and we might even see more people get PUBG’d or Fortnited in the quest to experience gaming sensations.
9. Huawei continues to make new tech but is also curtailed by politics and security threats
One of the stories that played out in ways not expected is that of Huawei. The Chinese telecommunications giant had expanded its operations to US at CES in January but at the last moment, got snubbed by telecom giants AT&T and Verizon. In the following months, US pushed its allies to show the door to Huawei as well. In a fresh blow, US asked Canada to detain its CFO Meng Wanzhou, who also happens to be the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei.
This comes as part of ongoing trade spat between US and China. While there is a political side to this issue, it also needs to be seen that Huawei is emerging as one of the biggest technology developers. It has 5G infrastructure that can challenge global players, and is building computing devices that can threaten the likes of Apple and Samsung. The question is whether Huawei is becoming a scapegoat for innovating faster than its rivals can catch up or is it guilty of espionage and security threat as blamed by America?
10. 123456 and password are still the worst password of this year
Well, it is end of 2018 and people are still setting 123456 as their password online. What is more baffling is the fact that password is the second worst password used online. This has been a trend for several years now, and it is only becoming more common and more obvious every year.
In 2019, all of us should take a New Year resolution of using stronger and hard to decrypt passwords