Biggest tech events of a year unlike any other

Biggest tech stories of a year we will always remember

It has been a year for the history books. With nearly 2 million killed by the coronavirus, unprecedented racial strife, record wildfires, hurricanes, one of the most unusual presidential elections and even record stock market levels attained, the world is a very different as the year ends. CNET has admirably captured the top 20 tech stories of the year. Here are a few of the most interesting:

Apple broke from Intel and began shipping products with its own M1 processor. This shift gives Apple far more room to differentiate its products from the rest of the pack and may lead to levels of innovation we never expected from Apple.

Tesla becomes most valuable car company, at least for a while, as the popularity of electric vehicles has soared and are now considered by most to be the standard for the future. Despite many bumps in the road, Tesla has soared and has been rewarded for being a pioneer in an industry that is not new, but had not seen, until Tesla, widespread success.

Space gets busy as SpaceX sent astronauts to the International Space Station, launched more constellation satellites, and won a large federal contract to provide rural broadband. Meanwhile China sent a craft to the moon, and NASA launched a robot to Mars.

The pandemic alienated those not online. The digital divide has left 18 million Americans without adequate broadband, meaning 5% of the population could not participate in online shopping, entertainment, community and remote work during the lockdown.

The pandemic was jet fuel for Amazon, which hired 375,000 employees and posted a third quarter profit of $6.3 billion as people flocked to Amazon and other online shopping sites for essentials, including entertainment.

Video gaming surged as those stuck at home played more games, ordered new games, and lined up to purchase new consoles, including the new Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 — meanwhile the Nintendo Switch was difficult to find in stores.

Technology fueled the Black Lives Matter movement as smartphones quickly spread video of the killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests across the world, raising the issues to the height of public conscious.

Quibi came and went. The mobile only premium video service was a big risk and failed big, taking $1.75 billion in investment capital with it. Some blame the pandemic for preventing viral growth of the service, but the pandemic also fueled consumption of other online content.

Streaming video was fueled by the pandemic, as people stayed at home and consumed more content, further boosting Netflix, Disney Plus, Peacock, and HBO Max — which abandoned an industry norm of reserving new releases for movie theaters only.

Zoom becomes a new standard for work and community. Weekend use of Zoom increased by 2,000% as people continued to use Zoom for social gatherings, not just connecting to customers and co-workers. Zoom’s security problems led the company to make a number of changes to its platform throughout the year.

Scientists developed a vaccine in record time, developing what is called a messenger molecule, which tricks the body into creating antibodies. The fast development of the vaccine will likely change forever the way drugs are created, tested and approved.

dis-rup-shun: Many people have agreed that the year 2020 has accelerated the development and adoption of emerging technologies by ten years. While that may be an exaggeration, it is certain that business communications and, subsequently, travel, are forever changed. Entertainment and gaming, telehealth, have been accelerated by many years. Use of offices, home offices and second homes is likely forever changed, as is shopping. Hopefully families and friendships have been strengthened by the pandemic and the good fortune enjoyed by tech firms can help lift those who have been forever damaged by the events of 2020. Happy New Year.