Ten years of tech: A look back at the biggest stories of the last decade - PC Retail

Ten years of tech: A look back at the biggest stories of the last decade

We look back at the good old days, like a bleary eyed old colonel...
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This month PCR turns ten years old, which seems like a perfect excuse to have a look back at the biggest stories of the last decade across the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tech industry.

2003

The world is still in the shadow of the dotcom bubble burst – which threatened to rip apart the fabric of reality, or so it seemed at the time.

Google is less the world spanning squid-monster it is now, with a tentacle probing every business avenue in its reach – it’s a dynamic new kid on the block, barging Yahoo out of the way in search.

Interestingly, Microsoft – still under Bill Gates’ stewardship – presents Google with the offer of a merger.

Oh, and Intent Media expands its portfolio to include PCR – (or PC Retail as it was initially called) and with its launch UK PC stores, as well as the wider industry, get their very own trade magazine.

2004

War, an almost doubling of the European Union member states club, and US election controversy – but a year perhaps best remembered for a Fathers for Justice protester dressed as Batman scaling Buckingham Palace.

Google floats on the stock market, cementing itself as one of the big boys of the tech world. Shell-shocked tech investors dared to think of peeking out from behind the sofa.

Microsoft meanwhile is busy getting sued by the European Union over various monopoly accusations.

3G networks launch in the UK – and soon they will be deluged with a billion pictures of home made lasagne – as was intended.

2005

By 2005 iTunes has really taken off – with half a billion downloads by July – providing proof for those that needed it that there was legitimate money to be made out of music downloads, and it wasn’t simply an avenue for pirates and criminals to flourish.

Rupert Murdoch made a swoop for a slice of the burgeoning social media pie, shelling out $580m for MySpace – which more or less became defunct not long after, eaten alive by Twitter and Facebook.

MySpace goes on to launch a too-cool-for- school sequel in 2013, which has been quietly racking up members, mainly in the music community, helped by an association with Justin Timberlake.

2006

From its humble beginnings as a US university network, Facebook came properly to the forefront this year as the thing to point your modem at. Your nan wasn’t on it yet, but most of your old school friends were. How we ever survived without the stream of consciousness reporting from strangers we met at weddings is a mystery – but no longer did we have to.

A techy milestone was hit this year too, as Gnarls Barkley became the first artist to get to number one though downloads alone - in no small part to a barnstorming iTunes and iPod business.

Meanwhile, PCR acquires CTO – adding a reseller element to its offering.

2007

2007 was a big year for the technoverse. The biggest news is probably the launch of the iPhone, which made smartphones a mass marketable product, rang the death knell for physical keys on phones (leading to a chain of events that killed off a number of phone manufacturers) and made any phone without a full touchscreen look like some kind of archaic relic from the Byzantine empire. Apple would launch a new one more or less every 12 months since the first in order to reach the world- straddling position it enjoys now.

Microsoft, meanwhile, launched its Windows Vista operating system – which wasn’t its most popular product ever...

2008

In 2008 the reserved Bill Gates retired from his day-to-day duties as head of the tech giant – leaving the company he founded to the contrasting figure of Steve Ballmer, who would end up becoming as famous for his shouty rants on stage as anything else.

The ‘Will Microsoft buy Yahoo?’ saga wound down this year, turning into a ridiculously prolonged back-and-forth. It didn’t.

The DVD format war was at its height here – and by the end of the year Blu-Ray had pretty much wiped out HD DVD.

Also, the world enters total economic annihilation, but on a brighter note the PCR Awards launch in London’s Cafe? Royale.

2009

Windows 7 turns up in 2009, after something of a backlash against Vista. Windows 7 was all about minimalising and making a swifter, more svelte system, and was greeted with a much warmer reception.

The European Commission fined Intel a whacking great €1.06 billion for what it described as abusing dominance in the chip market, and stifling competition (with AMD being the competition).

Google CEO Eric Schmidt left Apple’s board of directors – since the firms were increasingly getting up in each others’ grill in the smartphone sector. The search giant also launches Chrome–offering a fresh alternative to Microsoft’s dominant Internet Explorer web browser.

Motorola’s Droid also launches – a qwerty keyboard touchscreen phone touted as the first credible Android rival to the iPhone.

2010

Apple drops the iPad this year, completing something of an enduring vision for Steve Jobs, who first started talking about a tablet computer with wireless ‘radio’ capabilities back in 1983. Apple didn’t invent the tablet (or ‘slate’ as they were sometimes still called back then), but it did make them so popular that soon every consumer electronic manufacturer and his dog was trying to get into the act, producing slews of rectangular gadgetry of significantly varying qualities. It’s yet to be seriously troubled by any one rival product – although smaller, cheaper slabs are doing well.

Meanwhile, Apple’s arch-rival Microsoft launches the Kinect, bringing gesture-based gaming to its Xbox console.

Facebook clocks up half a billion users – and Christ knows how many pictures of noteworthy meals.

2011

As Apple solidifies its now worldbeating smartphone business with the iPhone 4S, the tech world is rocked by the sad news that CEO Steve Jobs has passed away.

Meanwhile Daddy Warbucks (Google) buys up ailing phone maker Motorola – leading to much commentary on what this means for the ‘open source’ model of Android. ‘Not much’ was the answer, as it turned out.

We also started seeing cheaper tablets emerge like the Amazon Kindle Fire – it did pretty well compared to other non-Apple tablets, which so far really hadn’t. The Fire proved it was possible to compete with the iPad as long as the price was a fair bit lower – a theory shored up by the speed at which HP Touchpads flew off the shelves after they had their prices dramatically slashed down to about £100.

2012

Privacy on the internet was (and continues to be) a big topic in tech last year – with various protests to perceived stamping on internet privacy occurring, including Wikipedia taking its service down.

Controversy hit Microsoft as a string of characters – 0xB16B00B5 – were discovered within code written to help a Microsoft program talk to some Linux software.

Some were not amused. “Puerile sniggering at breasts contributes to the continuing impression that software development is a boys’ club,” wrote one engineer.

Elsewhere, the Apple mantra ‘it just works’ is stretched to the limit as its Maps app, well... just didn’t. Our favourite blunder was the uprooting of Luton and redistributing it in the Devonshire countryside.

Also, the first PCR Boot Camp event hits the Brewery in London.

2013

Blackberry 10 launches – the ailing smartphone maker’s long awaited mobile operating system, alongside a new touch screen phone. Commentators climb over each other to bellow ‘too little too late’.

Smartwatches are the talk of the town – with pretty much every major electronics manufacturer tipped to be producing a wrist-mounted computer of some type, allowing them to speak into them like Dick Tracy.

Microsoft’s highly-animated CEO Steve Ballmer announced that he would retire, after five years at the helm.

And then there’s Apple’s latest stock of mobiles – the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S, and as has become custom for Apple launches now, commentators describe how they don’t really set the world alight anymore. But they’ll sell in the millions regardless.

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