What changed in tech from 2010 to 2020?
In 2010, Daniel B. Markham asked a question to the users of HackerNews: “A New Decade. Any Predictions?”
I don’t want to dwell on poor predictions, but as usual, most predictions seem very optimistic about the changes we’d see by 2020. However, at the same time, they seem quite pessimistic about growing companies, countries, and trends, predicting that these ‘bubbles’ will burst. A non-random sample of predictions:
- Ubiquitous mobile internet integrated into even very trivial consumer goods
- Ebooks defeating real books
- Rampant piracy
- Common electric cars
- Driverless cars
- China bubble will burst
- Google will go downhill
- Microsoft will become like IBM and have to sell off parts of the business
- Smartphones & cloud computing will make PCs redudant for most people (<– I’m really impressed with this one. Took me much longer than Silicon Valley to see this trend.)
Ten years later, and I’d say all but the last prediction turned out false, and even the last one is iffy - Statista says that 3/4 of American adults own a computer.
Here’s what actually changed over the past decade, as I see it:
What changed in hardware
- Phones got way better and changed the face of modern human life.
- 3D TVs fizzled.
- VR has fizzled so far.
- AR fizzled.
- CPUs improved, but more slowly.
- HDDs improved, but more slowly.
- SSDs got cheap.
- Displays got way cheaper.
- Cars got better infotainment systems and other features, but never drove themselves.
- Wireless power didn’t happen.
- Mesh networks didn’t happen.
- Ultra cheap RFID didn’t happen.
- Robots didn’t happen.
- Telerobots didn’t happen.
- Drone delivery didn’t happen.
- Flexible electronics didn’t happen.
- Nanotechnology didn’t really happen.
- Graphene didn’t happen.
- Ubiquitious computing didn’t happen.
- Non-silicon based solar didn’t happen.
- Silicon solar costs plummeted and installations went gangbusters.
- Wearable electronics didn’t happen, except for smart watches.
- eReaders grew.
- FPGAs never took off.
- Chips are still mostly silicon.
- The top CPU makers are still Intel and AMD.
- The top GPU makers are still NVIDIA and AMD.
- The top video game console makers are still Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft.
- Home internet remained mostly cable, not fiber.
- Computers remained x86, phones remained ARM.
What changed in software
- The dominant search engine is still Google.
- The dominant computer operating systems are still Windows and Mac OS.
- The dominant phone operating systems are still Android and iOS.
- The top video streaming site is still YouTube.
- The top map site is still Google Maps.
- The dominant office software is still Microsoft Office.
- The dominant social network is still Facebook.
- The top online retailer is still Amazon.
- The top cloud provider is still AWS.
- Internet Explorer died, and Chrome grew in share.
- Websites are lot better and slicker.
- Phone apps got way, way better.
- Cryptocurrencies didn’t take off.
- MMOs didn’t take off.
- Web anonymization didn’t happen.
- Web identity didn’t happen.
- Malware still exists.
- Spam still exists.
- Lag still exists.
- Functional programming didn’t take off.
- Telepresence didn’t take off.
- Remote work didn’t take off.
- Mass outsourcing of software jobs didn’t happen.
- Linux didn’t take off.
- Prediction markets didn’t happen.
- Video calls didn’t really take off, but they happen.
- Dynamic pricing didn’t really happen.
- Micropayments didn’t really happen.
- Most of what was growing in 2010 continued to grow, most of what was shrinking in 2010 continued to shrink.
What else happened? What narratives do you construct?