The Top Tech News of January 2018
It’s a new year and we’re excited to see what’s to come with new tech innovations and stories in the next twelve months. To start the year off, we already have an inkling of some of the stories you’ll be hearing about in January.
Here are some of the tech news subjects to keep on your radar this month.
1. The Bitcoin Roller Coaster
You’ve probably been seeing a lot of references to Bitcoin lately, but what you hear can change day to day. The cryptocurrency has been making headlines for big spikes and drops in value over the past few weeks.
In early December all the talk was about how the currency was worth far more than most experts anticipated. As we neared the end of the year, the news shifted to drops in the price. In the New Year, it’s on the rise again (although that may have changed by the time this story goes up).
If this trend continues, we’ll likely be hearing a lot about Bitcoin well into January and possibly for the entire year to come.
2. CES Conference
The Consumer Electronics Show, one of the most important conferences in the tech world, is happening January 9-12 in Las Vegas.
Put on by the Consumer Technology Association, the conference is famous for being the place where many of the biggest tech businesses in the world announce their most exciting new products and updates to the larger public.
Expect to see a steady stream of stories from tech journalists covering innovations in areas like AR, the smart home, and more. And check back here next month if you’re worried about catching it all – some of the news is likely to make our February roundup.
3. Disney and Fox Move Toward Merger
Two media behemoths are about to join forces, as long as the government doesn’t stop the merger as an antitrust violation.
The merger is largely being reported as part of Disney’s larger plan to shift their business model toward the popularity of streaming entertainment. They’ve already announced plans to release their own streaming platforms, and access to all of Fox’s content properties will go a long way to making them more competitive in a space dominated by brands like Netflix and Hulu that got there first.
4. YouTube Makes a Deal with Music Companies
After a long negotiation process, YouTube has signed deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Entertainment to provide payment to artists whose music is shared through the platform.
The deal will help support YouTube’s move to get more sign ups for the relatively new subscription version of the platform.
5. Tech Shakes Up How We Get Groceries
Buying groceries is one of the most common chores that almost everyone has to do, but what the task looks like is changing as tech companies continue to disrupt the market.
Amazon buying Whole Foods last year already suggested a big shift to grocery delivery replacing trips to the store. Getting into the same game, Target bought Shipt, a grocery delivery company, just last month.
Another big change taking shape is the move toward unmanned stores.
Amazon opened one last year, but one of their biggest competitors in China has plans to open hundreds of people-less convenience stores in the near future. These stores skip the checkout process, letting you simply choose what you like and leave, while tech that recognizes who you are and what products you’ve chosen takes care of the payment process for you.
6. Apple Draws Derision in Battery Controversy
Every year, Apple releases updated iPhones and many customers eagerly switch over to the new model. Those who patiently opt to stick with the phone they have eventually find it working more slowly or failing to stay charged as long until they too choose to upgrade to a new model. Turns out, the slower functioning of older phones is by design.
Apple upset lots of its customers last month by admitting that new iOS updates intentionally slow down older phones.
They claim it’s because the batteries get worn out, so the slower functioning saves the phones from shutting down as quickly, but many customers suspect it’s a ploy to get people to shell out for new phones. Some customers have gone as far as suing, and Apple has responded to the outrage with apologies and an offer to sell new batteries for old phones at a lower rate than previously.
Their competitors have (perhaps smugly) responded with assurances that they would never slow down customers’ phones. Whether or not this will put a dent in the iPhone’s overall popularity remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn’t make the company look good.
7. Tech IPOs on the Horizon
Experts are predicting that 2018 will be a big year in tech IPOs.
For January, many eyes are on Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone company, which could become one of the biggest tech IPOs ever if or when it comes to fruition. DocuSign’s another possibility this month, as they alerted the media last year of their plans to go public in “early 2018.”
IPOs are notoriously hard to predict, so we’ll see which companies actually take the plunge in the month and year to come.
8. Amazon and Google Rivalry Gets Petty
While a lot of the news this month is about companies merging, there are still plenty of big players in competition with each other. Last month, two of the biggest tech giants of all, Amazon and Google, got petty in their rivalry when Google chose to deactivate its YouTube app on all of Amazon’s Fire TV devices.
Customers who could easily pull up YouTube on their Amazon Fire TV or with the Fire stick now get directed to a browser where they have to type youtube.com in to access the popular video service. Many see this as retaliation for Amazon’s refusal to sell certain Google products like Chromecast and Google Home on the site (if you type in “Google Home” in Amazon, you get Amazon’s smart home products in the results).
The main losers here are the customers who have to deal with compatibility issues between different products and services. But at least in this case, the workaround is pretty simple.
9. Mixed Reality Goggles on the Way
The company Magic Leap has started to share details of its augmented reality system with the public. While they haven’t announced a release date yet, they’ve shown a demo of the product to tech journalists.
Their system includes goggles and a handheld controller that are linked to a small pocket-sized computer. The three pieces all work together to provide an immersive AR experience where you can interact with video game characters that make eye contact and see a fictional world and characters transposed on the world around you.
10. Amazon Extends Smart Home Business with Blink Acquisition
As if it wasn’t already obvious that Amazon wants to take over our homes with technology, their acquisition of the smart security startup Blink adds to the type of products and technology they now have access to.
Blink’s smart security devices, including cameras and a smart doorbell, offer connectivity between different security devices and your phone at a more affordable rate than many competitors. They’re a natural fit for Amazon, which is already behind many of the most popular smart home products on the market.
11. Britain Makes High-Speed Internet a Legal Right
While the U.S. has been debating the repeal of net neutrality, the UK made a move in the opposite direction last month, declaring that all the country’s residents deserve access to high-speed internet as a legal right.
Internet providers in the country will be required to provide all homes with at least 10 megabits per second of data speed, the amount the government has determined is required for reasonable use by the average family.
The decision puts internet on par with utilities like water and electricity in how the government handles it, showing just how important internet has become to how people live their day-to-day lives.
January promises to be a big month for tech news, and 2018 is sure to bring us loads of surprises and interesting stories. Check back next month to see what’s going on in the tech world In February.