Pick a year: It’s easy to look back and convince yourself That Was The Year That Was in tech, partly because the pace of change is so rapid and partly because we so readily embrace and then quickly depend on things that are completely different. Consider this: When the class of 2012 was applying to college, there was no iPhone. Until those students were just about at the end of their junior years, there was no iPad. Both of these nascent devices now define the mobile Internet, which is where all the action is.
But 2011 had some pretty remarkable advances that seem to be the start of inexorable things to come, as well as some surprising and sad examples of demise, whose impact will surely be felt for years to come, in ways that are currently near-impossible to predict.
Some may argue that 2011 was the year of the tablet (redux), because of the spritely launch of Amazon’s Fire and Barnes & Noble’s reboot of the Nook color. I say, it was bound to happen, and that the only really interesting thing is that content companies are giving Apple a bit of competition, and not the hardware bigwigs.
The cloud was big in 2011, but in a way it just seemed to finally achieve escape velocity after Apple created iCloud within its rigorously controlled ecosystem.
Here are five tech events from 2011 that may not seem entirely obvious but which I think will resonate for years.