Monday, September 7, 2009

The Summer of 2009 : Tech Winners

As the unofficial end of summer arrives (Labor Day weekend here in the US), it's time for a look back of one of the most rapidly-moving chapters in Tech (and Internet) history ... again.

1) Microsoft delivered a very unexpected triple-play.

The Windows 7 Release Candidate was delivered to the public. Most reviews were solidly positive as the operating system prepares to hit the shelves in October.  Many said 'It's what Vista should have been'.  No argument from me but I think it's safe to say that Win 7 was a pleasant surprise on many fronts and the built-in backgrounds (IE: Eye Candy) may be all that's needed to see this operating system have a significant effect on PC sales in the fourth quarter.  With pent-up demand for up-to-date computers looming from the recession, laptops with Win 7 could be one of the biggest holiday items out there.

BING - Microsoft's new search engine opened a lot of eyes.  It wasn't a facelift for the previous search product 'Live'. It was all-new and MUCH better, and has been improving quietly since the launch.  While Bing may never catch the relevancy factor of Google, the multi-million dollar launch campaign helped create a huge buzz.  Will the buzz etch Google search numbers?  We'll see.  Regardless, it's safe to see very few saw Bing coming.

Windows Mobile 6.5 - Being touted as a dramatic improvement to past versions of Windows for Smartphones, several manufacturers are already onboard for the fall launch.  iPhone and RIM's Blackberry could see some competition from Microsoft loyalists and particularly those interfacing with Microsoft-powered company infrastructures.

It's pretty safe to say the Summer of 2009 will go down as one of Microsoft's most innovative seasons in a long, long time.

2) Google. 

Google's search product reached an all-time high in market share. Their ongoing emphasis on relevancy in search results kept 'Googling-it' at the top of the heap.  Numerous Google products exited 'Beta'. Probably the most significant upcoming product from Google that bears watching is Google Wave, but with video chat embedded in Gmail as well as other reasons, it's safe to say that many mainstream users have switched to Google's e-mail service as well.  Google's ChromeOS remains short on details but the new Google browser (Chrome) did etch out a 'real' market share number, in many cases rivaling Apple's Safari.

3) Apple.  The release of the iPhone GS had a two-fold effect on the smartphone market.  Early adopters and those that 'have to have the latest' made the switch to the latest 'super smartphone', while others, feeling the effects of the downturn, could pick up the 'old version' for less than $100 ... a key price point.  There's simply no debating (anymore) that Apple's exclusive with AT & T held back sales but they were (very) potent nonetheless.

4) Facebook.  Surprise ... your Mom's on Facebook. 

Facebook took the mainstream by storm.  While that brought some problems (scammers and the like), Facebook not only now has a massive (daily) user base but new apps (Farmville??) are keeping users there ... and begging to be monetized. To everyone's surprise (and dismay in some cases), Facebook bought the most innovative product on the web the last two years running ... Friendfeed.  Started by a group of ex-Googlers, Friendfeed successfully broke down a variety of web barriers and created a new playing field in 'sharing'. The entire (small) staff was hired, Friendfeed's offices closed and new offices opened at Facebook in less than three weeks time.  Add to all of this, Facebook's Connect ...which was simply the best implementation of a secondary log-in and saw almost immediate implementation by many prominent websites and social networks.

5) Twitter. 

Twitter garnered a mainstream buzz through the media and also managed to find a spot on tens of thousands of websites.  The 140 character real-time network was immediately adopted by media folks as well as marketing companies but average Internet users still aren't 'buying in' on a regular basis.  Twitter continues to successfully overcome obstacles including significant outages (in the early Twitter days) a barrage of 'spammy followers' not to mention a huge DDos attack which probably came as a forward looking wake-up call.

6) YouTube.

Google's YouTube not only saw a respectable percentage of the company's searches but also managed to become the third major social media outlet on most major blogs alongside Twitter and Facebook.  YouTube very well might be Google's next cash cow going into 2010.


While VC's (and certainly banks) reigned in their investing due to the times, many well-known tech personalities either started new companies or changed companies this past summer.  The list is long but it'll be interesting to watch some develop their own niche in the coming months.

Finally ... I'm not big on lists because someone's always left out.  Sure these are some of the biggest names in Tech.  They also moved nicely while others were either quiet and/or repositioning.

Who's next? 

Keep an eye on Acer, IBM and LG.

Thanks to those who took the time to write as I changed occupations in the last two months and SEO and Tech Daily wasn't exactly 'daily' :) ....

Your 'pal' is still here and very concerned about all of you that are being hammered by the current economic climate. Keep the faith!