A look back at 2008

Tech talk with Devaka

Another year comes to an end. A very eventful one, with mega movies such as Dark Knight setting new box office records, to India's 9/11, to the global recession. So in the middle of all this, what happened in the software industry?

For me, among many things the mobile operating systems and the browsers, stood out the most. The release of Mozilla Firefox 3 made quite a noise by setting a new Guinness World Record for the most number of downloads of a particular software in a day. On June 17, Firefox 3 was downloaded more than eight million times within the first 24 hours.

Mr. Google Chrome, if you can remember was another browser that made waves in the market by introducing the next generation of browsers. Chrome was designed ground-up by Google to be more than just a browser and become a complete platform for web-based interactive applications. Chrome got released back in September as a beta and has already captured 6% of the market. Not bad for a beta version of a product.

The iPhone too stood out this year with its next generation 2.0 release. Although it was released first in year 2007, the iPhone 2.0 software and the new iPhone 3G model with a faster data plan and GPS came out to hype almost as big as the original iPhone launch.

Google's answer to Apple's proprietary iPhone hardware and software came in the form of their very own touch mobile phone operating system, Android, which launched in October. Unlike the iPhone, this new mobile platform is open source and will run on various handsets going forward.

Making some headlines in 2008, Flickr the online photo-sharing web site got into the ring with YouTube and Google Video offering photo and video sharing capabilities. Flickr Pro members can now upload up to 90-second video clips to the site, and everyone can view and comment on the clips.

Gmail, one of the most popular web application on the Internet today, beefed up their application with new features coming throughout the year of 2008. Gmail added a "Labs" section to your account, a safe way for power users to enable "experimental" power features to their email while keeping everyone else's safe from harm. Some of the Lab features released this year included label enhancements such as color coding and label keyboard shortcut and reply add-ons that manages long conversations by hiding text that you've already seen.

2008 was a good year for open source software as well. Some that stood out this year were;
VLC Media Player - the cross-platform media player and streaming server. It is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

Audacity - the free open source audio / sound editing software. With Audacity you can record live audio,convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files,cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together, and change the speed or pitch of a recording.
uTorrent - a lightweight and efficient Bittorent client.

Easy Video Downloader - a free tool that will enable you to download videos from Youtube (High Quality), Google Video and save the file as AVI or MPEG4 for iPod and PSP.

Predictions for 2009

1. Commercial open source vendors are going to make a killing in 2009 with increased business due to the recession and customers looking for cheaper, enterprise alternatives.

2. SaaS (Software as a Service) vendors such as Salesforce will expand their offerings to meet customer demands and provide one-stop consulting services rather than just managing customer and sales processes. Look out for announcements of strategic partnerships between SaaS and technology vendors that will diversify and complement SaaS solutions.

3. Google Chrome is going to be a major hit and will continue to eat-up the browser market with major releases in 2009.

4. Cloud computing will get more serious with companies moving into Clouds hoping to reduce their capital expenditure.

5. The Nintendo Wii console will increase in popularity with more hardcore games getting released next year. I still think Wii didn't take off that well because it had flimsy games. In 2009 we will see more first-person shooting and sports games coming out that will surely attract lots of attention.

Wish you all a merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!

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