Nigeria: Tech Innovations of the 2010-2019 Decade – AllAfrica.com
As the 2010-2019 decade comes to an end tomorrow, it is worthwhile to recall some of the tech innovations that mark this period. To put things in perspective, let’s quickly run through some of the significant innovations of the previous decade (2000-2009), which include the mainstream launching of the Global Positioning System (GPS) in 2000 and the 2001 launching of Wikipedia, which spurs the growth of user-generated content. In the early 2001, the highly innovative music-sharing website, Napster, enabled music-sharing that let you swap music for free. Napster pioneered the peer-to-peer Internet-based sharing of digital audio songs, which were encoded in the MP3 format. The company was forced to shut down as a result of copyright infringement law suits. In its wake is “a wave of innovations that forever changed the way music and video are obtained and experienced.” Napster’s innovation and demise marks the substitution of CD buying or video renting with downloading and sharing of music and video online. The iTunes, courtesy of Apple, Inc. and other applications – such as Hulu – piggybacked on Napster’s innovation.
The 2000-2009 decade also saw the birth of social media, from the pioneering work of Friendster, which was founded in 2003 by (Canadian) Jonathan Abrams, and coming ahead of MySpace (2004), Hi5 (2004), and Facebook (2004). The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003. Google went public in August 2004, marking the birth of universal web search. Twitter, a microblogging and social networking service on which you could post and interact with messages known as “tweets,” was launched on 21 March 2006. (On 7 November 2017, the original 140 character limit of tweets was doubled to 280 for all languages except Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.) Nintendo Wii was launched in November 2006 in an event that revolutionized game play. The first iPhone was launched on 29 June 2007, while Samsung Galaxy was announced on 27 April 2009 and released on 29 June 2009 as the first Android-powered phone from Samsung Mobile. Two years after the release of the iPad tablet by Apple, Microsoft released Surface as a two-in-one workstation that bridges the gap between a laptop and a tablet.
Although the Year 2019 itself hasn’t yet recorded a memorable set of innovations – and probably wouldn’t because it ends tomorrow – the decade is spectacular in producing a whole slew of technologies that have changed the way we do things. The Samsung Galaxy Note was released in 2011 as the first successful phablet. The big screen, which has now grown to 6.4 in., and the S Pen, distinguish Note. The original Galaxy Note was marketed for creativity and the presentation of a new way of inputting information. The large screen design was immediately copied by other smartphone manufacturers, including Apple, HTC, LG, and Motorola. The stylus in Note was also copied by LG, and Apple embraced it in the iPad. The outgoing decade is also one for the digital assistants. Apple unveiled Siri as a feature of iPhone 4S on 4 October 2011. (According to a Wikipedia entry, “Apple Inc. developed Siri following the 2010 acquisition of Siri Inc., a spin-off of SRI International, which is a research institute financed by DARPA and the United States Department of Defense.”) Alexa and Amazon Echo surfaced in 2014, while Google Assistant came in 2016. The development of Cortana by Microsoft started in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2 April 2014 that it was demonstrated. Cortana disappeared as a digital assistant a few months ago in the face of steep competition, although the technology is heavily leveraged in Microsoft’s Windows operating system; for example, in the capability to read aloud.
The development of the popular, wireless earbuds (called AirPods) by Apple in 2016 allows us to do away with headphone wires. Some people consider AirPods to be one of their favorite Apple products ever! There is also the EarPods, which is a wired version of AirPods, costing a mere $30 as opposed to the $160 price tag for the AirPods. Other innovations in the last decade include Oculus, the Virtual Reality headset developed by Oculus VR in 2012, and acquired by Facebook in 2014. The Stripe online payment platform was officially launched in September 2011. Instagram was launched in October 2010 and acquired by Facebook in April 2012. Square, conceived as a mobile payments service that could process credit cards with an app and a reader that plugged into smartphones, was launched in October 2010 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
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The most famous inventions of this decade include the iPad, which was released on 3 April 2010. Snapchat, where you send disappearing images, was launched in 2011. The self-driving car project by Google, which started in 2009, received a lot of focus during the course of this decade. Also, the facial recognition technology, though created in 1960, saw renewed emphasis and deployments – especially in China. The ride-hailing app Uber was created in 2011, while Lyft, its biggest US competitor, came in 2012. The 4G network, which was also launched this decade, enabled the Internet-based apps in the foregoing. Finally, WhatsApp, whose development started in 2009, and was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014, is perhaps the most popular worldwide messaging app of the 2010-2019 decade.
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