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Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Twist in the Cord

2011 was a year of surprises – Apple remained at the top,smartphones became affordable,3D entered the living room,and e-commerce became a way of life.

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: May 23, 2018 6:37:02 pm

2011 was a year of surprises – Apple remained at the top,smartphones became affordable,3D entered the living room,and e-commerce became a way of life.

December 25,2010: New Year resolution: Get rid of old laptop,buy cheaper laptop or good netbook. December 25,2011: New Year resolution: Get rid of new netbook,buy tablet.

2011 has been that sort of year for those who like to be ahead of trends in technology. Just when you thought you knew what to expect,something new happened,tossing expectations aside. Here is a look at what we thought technology in 2011 would be and what it turned out to be in the end.

Tablets

2011 was supposed to be the year of the tablet. iPad 1 made waves by setting new sales records. Everyone thought Apple competitors would bring some balance to the market with products that were at least as good,if not better. But Apple,which launched iPad 2 early last year,still sits pretty with about 61 per cent of the market,a touch below the 63 per cent share it had last year. Like last year,Samsung is still number two with its Galaxy series of Android tablets.

There were some good products,like the BlackBerry Playbook with superb multi-tasking capabilities and security features,and the much-hyped Motorola Xoom,but none of them stood a chance against the iPad and the Galaxy. 2012 holds some promise with the very-affordable Kindle Fire,but I guess now no one will stick their neck out and say it will be the iPad killer. Only the netbook died last year.

Laptops

Early last year,the very affordable netbooks were the buzz. If prospective buyers had doubts,it was about whether they would need an external optical drive to go with their cute new netbook. Well,tablets changed all that. With the cheaper end of the laptop segment being eaten into by the new touchscreen entrants,laptop companies have had to reinvent themselves. Over the past year,many of them decided to shelve their cheaper,smaller netbooks and focus on a new segment called Ultrabooks.

Intel which holds the trademark for Ultrabooks — you will be hearing a lot about them in 2012 — specifies that the new class of laptops will be light-weight,have long battery life,strong performance,will load fast and be reasonably priced. Apple also introduced the Mac OSX Lion,which brings many tablet-like gestures to laptops. Others are trying to woo costumers by offering up to 1TB of storage space,6 GB of RAM and unprecedented processing power.

Mobile Phones

There were hundreds of phone launches in 2011,but the noise drowned in the din created by a handful of smartphones. It was apt in a way,for this was the big year for the smartphones,the year in which they became affordable for millions of new users. You can now get a really smart phone for as little as Rs 5,000,giving you access to tonnes of apps,mobile internet etc. But the thunder remained at the top,where the iPhone 4S,Samsung Galaxy SII,Nokia Lumia 800 and HTC Sensation showed others the way.

We saw some very interesting new entrants too. Like the 5” Samsung Galaxy Note,which opened up a new segment that most of us thought had died with the Dell Streak. Here was a phone that could do pretty much everything a tablet did and a bit more,thanks to its pressure sensitivity and S Pen that allows users to take notes on the screen as if it were a real notepad. Towards the latter part of the year we had a host of new phones featuring the Windows Phone 7 OS,which in the coming years is expected to emerge as the top software for smartphones after Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

Home entertainment

Almost every big budget movie released last year had a 3D version,so it was only expected that the third dimension would make a grand entry into our living rooms. Samsung and LG set the trends,but in India we are still lacking that one ingredient that will make 3D television sets a big success — content. However,HD content has started becoming mainstream,with channels finally deciding to take the plunge. At least,these expensive home theatre systems in your houses have some serious work to do.

The year also slammed the last nail in the coffin of the ubiquitous music system. The entire world has now switched to iPod docks,(haven’t you?),and those who find the Shuffle a bit too pricey have the cheap USB enabled docks that do just about anything. No need for those tower speakers and five-part main units,small is the new power house for in-house entertainment.

Technology

One of the places where new technology has impacted our daily lives is in search,as we tend to do most of it online these days. Google introduced intuitive search,which knows what you are searching even before you type in the key words. Often the options thrown by the search engine are better that what you were going to type in the first place. Search also became voice-enabled with all Android devices supporting the same. While the new breed of Windows Phones too claim to have mastered this technology,Apple’s new iPhone 4S came bundled up with Siri,a voice-enabled personal assistant,which took the game to a new level.

In India,2011 will also be remembered as the year in which e-commerce broke the glass ceiling. If you were not among the millions of users who bought a book on Flipkart,then it is time you started calling yourself technologically challenged. It’s no longer about following what’s in vogue,online purchases now also get you the best deals.

Here is hoping 2012 also throws more surprises. Happy New Year.

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