On Episode 516 of the Waves of Tech, we are recapping the 2020 tech industry. SpaceX and NASA take the top mention this year purely based on their overall successes in terms of launching from American soil and the number of positive results in space travel. COVID-19 turned the tech industry in a new direction, as education, conferences, production, and more areas resulted in wholesale changes in how business is conducted and orchestrated. Big tech was once again challenged in many respects as executives and corporations felt the pressure from federal, state, and international governments. Apple turned another successful year as they turned to manufacturing their own chips and enhanced their services market. Streaming services continued to battle for money and attention as people’s viewing habits changed as a result of the pandemic and their day-to-day routines. And finally, the rollout of 5G made headlines leaving most users unhappy yet showed promise in terms of capability.
SpaceX and NASA Launches
Without question and debate, SpaceX and NASA get the top nomination for this year in technology. With the successful launch of two missions from American soil to the International Space Station carrying astronauts, each of these agencies have proven that innovation, collaboration, and ingenuity can deliver amazing results. SpaceX was also awarded several multi-million dollar government contracts for the development and testing of additional products and experiments.
The Year of COVID
Where do we even start when discussing the impact coronavirus has had on the technology industry? First and foremost, distance learning in education led the way as students, teachers, and administrators adapted the weekly challenges. Those that were forced to shift their professional jobs home tested our capacity for productivity and attention. One of the harsher lessons learned from this transition to distance working and learning is the sheer volume of tech inequity that still exists around the country and globe in terms of accessible and reliable internet connectivity.
We learned that moving to virtual conferences, music concerts, and technical events is truly possible. We even experienced the US Supreme Court going virtual for testimony and arguments. Whereas that is not the ideal situation, they are a suitable substitute to meet the needs of various industries in the tech field.
It is important to highlight the efforts many tech companies took to equip the front line medical workers with the much needed protective equipment. Different companies adjusted their manufacturing to produce masks, ventilator units, nasal swabs, and face shields. Many people at home with 3D-printing capabilities made the effort to print and ship thousands of products to hospitals, nurses, and support staff.
Govt’s, Politics, Social Media, and Regulations
If 2020 showed us anything it was that there is still a long way to go in terms of developing a proper response for privacy, data protection, and security of personal information. Social media companies were at the center of the debate, and big tech was constantly grilled at the federal level. This year, once again, laid the foundation for the next few years in which major change in terms of monopolies, customer protection, and market control can be anticipated
Apple M1 Chips and Services
Each year we report on another company that has moved from external production of some good or product to an internal system of manufacturing. Apple was no different as they expanded their capacity to the manufacturing of their M1 chips. This proved highly successful in their rollout and productivity inside their machines. They also began offering up more subscription based services, such as Fitness+ and many others, to continue to flood the accounts with ongoing revenue.
Streaming Wars Continue
Of course, it would not be a recap without a mention of all the things that happened in the streaming industry. As people flocked to their homes in response to lockdown orders in early March and as many began replacing their social outings with more in-home entertainment, it was ripe for a battle between Netflix, Disney+, ESPN+, Apple TV+, NBC Peacock, Prime Video, Hulu, and many more. Each of these companies are creating and producing original programming that makes it difficult for consumers to limit their subscriptions to just one or two, as many continue to pay more for more material.
Finally, 5G rolled out in 2020 to much fanfare and enthusiasm but let consumers and business with very little to be cheerful about. Much was promised from various ISPs and telecom providers, yet the delivery on these promises fell short to many of us. It is important to note that many cell phone providers promise 5G capabilities yet did not have devices constructed to work on 5G systems. However, the infrastructure continues to be built out and the foundations for a strong 5G service is nearing.
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