The Top Ten Tech Stories of 2011-Part 2

Posted by · December 29, 2011 1:20 pm

Earlier today I posted the top five tech stories of 2011 as voted on by my coworkers here at Experts Exchange and gave an update on how the people and companies involved in those stories will end 2011.

I promised to post part two of the Experts Exchange Top Tech Stories of 2011 later today, and that is exactly what I’m doing now.  So, without further ado, here are stories six through 10 of the top tech stories of 2011, and my take on whether these stories will end in triumph or tragedy.

6. Triumph and Tragedy: Anonymous hacks just about everything

Anonymous has struck again…and again…and again… this year, with their latest hackithon being Robin Hood-esque in nature.  On Christmas Eve, the Anonymous collective hacked Stratfor, a Texas-based company that analyzes international security issues for international companies, and mined hundreds of thousands of files including over 50,000 credit card numbers that they used to donate somewhere between $500,000 – $1 million to charity.  The real tragedy in this particular hacking is the time it is going to take organizations like the American Red Cross to figure out which donations were fraudulent and return the money to the folks at Stratfor. As for the rest of the Anonymous (and I suppose I can’t exclude the now defunct Lulzsec) attacks, some of the more high profile ones in 2011 included the Sony (the work of Lulzsec) and Syria’s Defense Ministry hackings as well as a number of law enforcement agencies.  While hackings will surely continue in 2012, McAfee predicts that Anonymous itself will either disband or reorganize next year.

7. Triumph: Tablets explode

Ok, it’s not a literal explosion (although there was one in China and it could be argued that the Blackberry Playbook is IMploding), but if 2011 wasn’t the year of social networking then it was certainly the year of the tablet.  The iPad and Kindle Fire were the clear winners, with the iPad being arguably the best tablet on the market (unless you’re an Android gal like me, then you should buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab) and the Fire helping Amazon set holiday sales records. While PCs aren’t going away any time soon, tablets will likely continue their domination in 2012 with the iPad 3 set for release and the Windows 8 tablet preparing to “save Microsoft and shock us all.”

8. Tragedy: Sony Playstation gets hacked

I gotta say, of all the stories on this list, this is the one I don’t really think deserves to be on here.  Sure, the Playstation network hacking was definitely scary for the millions of people who input their credit cards into their systems.  And yes, Sony did withhold the information from their customers for longer than they should have, but many of you are missing the silver lining in this story.  For almost half of the month of April (remember, there were two outages), wives and girlfriends everywhere had the undivided attention of their husbands and significant others because those men had no one to play video games with almost all month.

9. Tragedy: Tech IPOs are the new black, but don’t wear nearly as well 

Sky-high valuations and lack of business models, much less revenue, plagued the majority of the technology companies that went public this year.  The stocks for all of these companies are currently trading below what they were trading for when they initially went public. As TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld pointed out earlier this month, while the market is definitely down overall this year, the amount of money that tech companies are raising pre-IPO means most of the share value is being captured by private, not public investors.  Still, if we have to declare one winner in the tech IPO blitz of 2011, it’s the under-the-radar IPO of Angie’s List.  Shares for the company are currently trading at $15.93–almost three dollars above the debut price.  In addition, the company’s solid history and viable business model is a clear long-term win for investors.

10. Triumph and Tragedy: Spotify comes to America, disrupts the music industry…again

It seems like Spotify has been here forever, but the reality is that it’s only blessed those of us in the US with its presence since July.   For users, the ability to listen to almost any album at any time is well worth the monthly $10 subscription fee, but for artists, the advent of online streaming services like Spotify is not nearly as advantageous.  In fact, as Chris O’Brien pointed out in one of his November columns, “To make the monthly minimum wage of $1,160, a musician needed to sell 143 self-pressed compact discs. To make that from Spotify, they would need people to stream their songs more than 4 million times — not humanly possible unless you happen to be Lady Gaga.”  One artist told O’Brien that after having her music on Spotify for almost three years, her income from the service is $35.  That being said, Spotify’s success (the triumph in all this) in the US and abroad means that the service won’t be going anywhere any time soon, so it looks like both musicians and fans need to work together to figure out what making a living and supporting an artist in the digital age really means.

So there you have it. Stories six through 10 on the Experts Exchange top ten tech stories of 2011 list (stories 1-5 here). Like all “best of” lists, this one is subjective, so I’m sure you all have some thoughts on other stories you think should have made the cut.  Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below and if I don’t chat with you before, here’s to 2012 and all the headlines that await us there.