The holiday season is one of reflection and here at TWICE we like to carve out some time every December to look back a bit on the year that just whipped by, in the midst of our near frantic prep for the CES coming up.
It was an eventful year for the technology industry, and not always in a good way. We, sadly, said goodbye to some retail stalwarts: most notably RadioShack, but also Office Depot, Paul’s TV (as well as its founder, Paul Goldenberg), Sony Retail Stores, Sony’s online store and TigerDirect, to name a few.
We also said goodbye to the legendary Bob Abt, who influenced a generation of dealers with his marketing savvy and genial nature. Check out Alan Wolf’s summation of the Year In Retailing, for more reflection.
On the bright side of 2015, 4K Ultra HD TV started to gain some solid ground at retail and, more importantly, consumer awareness went from practically nil to at least recognizable.
High-resolution audio continued to carve out a niche as audiophilia became cool again. There was even a revival of vinyl records, and not just among old farts like me but among teenagers and college kids who found they could pick up a new hoodie, a couple vinyl Springsteen albums and a portable turntable at Urban Outfitters stores.
Drones, robots, virtual reality headsets, 3D video cameras and the coolest smart speaker in the world, the Amazon Echo, all hit the mainstream. (My family has adopted Alexa as our long-lost sister/ daughter, though her corny jokes are the worst.) As Sinatra, who would have been 100 this month, famously sang, “It was a very good year.”
But the real heroes of the year in tech are the people — the leaders, the innovators, the disruptors, the changing of the guard. See our annual Newsmakers of the Year list, beginning on page 24, for a primer on who got the industry moving and shaking. An editor’s note: you didn’t necessarily have to have had a positive influence on the industry to make the list (hello Eddie Lampert and Carly Fiorina), you just needed to create some enough buzz to rise above the din.
And some did that better than others. T-Mobile’s John Legere was probably the most entertaining CE exec of 2015. His potty mouth gets the attention but his uncarrier strategy has upended the mobile world.
Giants like Google and Microsoft have adapted to new leadership in a positive way, and look like they are in good hands for years to come. Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai represent a kinder, gentler generation of tech execs, and the change is welcome.
And the young’uns, oh, the young’uns like Fitbit’s James Park and DJI founder Frank Wang, are here to remind us that there are always younger and more brilliant innovators coming up the pike. It’s why this industry continues to thrive and people like me who are paid to observe it, enjoy their jobs.
See you at CES
We are officially in CES 2016 countdown mode and if you’re scrambling last-minute to get your product noticed, it’s not too late enter the TWICE Picks Awards program, or take advantage of TWICE’s Digital CES News Hub. Check out twice.com for details or contact Shara Richter at [email protected] for details.