SINGAPORE (Dec 27): Here are the tech events that made the news this year.
Tesla Cybertruck launched
You do not think of Tesla as a truly tech company, but there is no denying that technology drives the very heart of a Tesla car. That, and the fact that the Truck looks like something from the not-sodistant future where robots have taken over the world.
Age of the machines
In a case of the machines surpassing humankind, Lee Sedol, the former world champion of strategy game Go has retired. Why? Because Google’s artificial intelligence program, DeepMind, is now unbeatable. Sedol famously lost a best-of-five series of Go games against DeepMind in 2016, and now says the machine cannot be defeated.
The Apple cheese grater
At a whopping US$52,000 for the full-specs version, the new Mac Pro by Apple’s resemblance to the humble household “cheese grater” triggered a multitude of memes, and surpassed the expectations of just how expensive Apple devices can get. Still, the company has had a slew of releases this year, including the iPhone 11 and the new Apple Watch.
Fitbit acquired by Google
The fitness tracker company was acquired by Gobble, we mean Google, this year, thus securing Google’s involvement in every inch of your life. At a record-breaking US$2.1 billion, it was great news for Fitbit, as it acts as Google’s soft (and expensive) entry into wearables.
Disney has come a little late to the streaming service game, and may find it hard to break through and define itself among the other streaming services — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO and more — but it has the huge advantage of owning rights to almost every huge blockbuster movie released in the past decade. Think the Marvel Comic Universe movies, Star Wars and Pixar, and perhaps Disney+ may be a worthy contender after all.
Tech IPOs — Lyft, Uber, Pinterest and Slack
2019 could be the year of tech IPOs that launched to great interest and inflated share prices, only for its valuation to tank or deflate by almost half of what initial investors expected. Uber stands out, in this case: Uber priced its May offering at US$45 a share, valuing the company around US$82.4 billion, but it tanked to less than half of that over the course of a few months.
Facebook Libra tanks
Facebook’s alternative to Bitcoin and blockchained digital currency Libra was announced to much fanfare, but its dreams died even before it began as regulators, already iffy with Facebook’s shady dealings, put an end to it, even as partners (including payments giant PayPal) pulled out of the project.
How does one describe Peloton? Although it is essentially an exercise machine retailer, it claims to be a tech company that “sells happiness”, or exercise bikes and treadmills that stream fitness classes through a touch screen that is included with the machines. It sells the bike for over US$2,000, with a US$40 monthly subscription. Peloton also IPO-ed, and it claims it will sell 40 million shares to raise US$1.16 billion at a valuation of about US$8 billion.