Last decade achievements

13 April 2020

Over the last decade, many technology practices or social behaviour became the norm or even the standard. Here are the main ones I have in mind, and I guess I’m missing plenty.

Devices that can become completely obsolete when the parent company cut the attached service. From smart speakers to indoor bikes. When the attached service dies, the device loses most of its functionality or become a complete brick. The most shocking for are high-end smart speakers that can’t be used by physical jack or Bluetooth, making them pointless when the parent company decides to no longer support it.

Camera bumps on phones. It’s just a detail, but phones are no longer flat. I’m probably the only one who bothers about it.

Death of the 3.5 jack on mobile devices. It’s debated many times. I don’t want to dig into details. It’s just no longer there. But still available with a dongle.

Dongles. It’s not something very new, but its use ramps up over the last decade, mostly in the Apple ecosystem.

Selfies. During the early days of the internet, the action of taking a picture of yourself was an act of narcissism. Today it’s a natural thing, completely mainstream and socially accepted.

The short lifespan of smartphones. The normalisation of 2 years lifespan on 1000$ smartphones is quite alarming. Things are getting better. Apple got busted downclocking older devices, making 2 years old devices a hell to use.

1Mb+ web pages. It breaks my heart as a frontend developer, but it’s becoming the norm. Single Page Apps are the default for websites when most of it doesn’t need it. The same thing applies to apps on mobile. A simple and performant website could replace many.

Devices repairability falling over. Before 2010, I don’t think it was acceptable to have a battery glued in laptop. Now it is. Laptops with RAM and storage soldered to the motherboard, Torx screws, rivets… and more. Buy it, use it, break it, change it.

Apple influence. From the previous points, we can understand that when Apple decides to do something bold, it’s a signal to the rest of the industry to align on it. Removing the jack, done. Camera bump, done. Notch, done. The primary influence the Android manufacturers had on Apple was the big size screen.

Tracking and over exposition to advertising. Most of the population still don’t understand how this permanent tracking works. Visiting a shoe website from your mobile then see advertising from Amazon to sell this product is now typical. There is no way of using technologies and services guaranteeing complete privacy.

Personal information used for micro targetting on polical campaingns. The Cambridge Analytica scandal from 2018 revealed to the world how personal information and targetted advertising could be a powerful weapon. Sadly, like the previous point, no shocking example enlighted the public to understand the danger of this practice.

High difficulty to keep a social life away from the giants (GAFA). Back in the days, ways of communication/broadcast were state-owned like mail, landlines (voice and SMS) and television. Nowadays, the internet is the lowest layer, but everything is in private company products. Making abstraction of all the services provided by the GAFA is possible, but tough. One classic example is people creating Facebook events and forget about people who aren’t on the social network.

The subscription. From music to video streaming, to software, and online storage. It seems to become the baseline for new business models. It can be a good thing like a bad thing. But for significant software, like Adobe, it’s like leasing, but you never end up owning the product.

This post is not a positive summary of the last decade, its intentional, a sad look back and not a good feeling about the future. The reason is I wrote this post on a second hand MacBook Pro 13 from 2012. It’s just fantastic to be able to open it without specific tools, accessing the storage, RAM and battery. It is a sweet freedom to can upgrade your computer along the time. Let say paying a computer at higher prices for a black box, is not the future I wanted.