Tech Winners and Losers 2017

Category: Tech-News

There’s an old saying: “If you don’t mess up at least once a day, you’re not trying hard enough.” The tech industry messes up much more frequently, so I guess it’s giving us all it’s got. Some of the efforts are wins, and many are the opposite of winning. Here are my picks of the best and worst of 2017 tech…

"We Are the Champions…"

Sometimes there is an irony in winning. When you're king of the hill, top of the heap, sometimes you forget to do the little things that made your success possible. And sometimes you can be both a winner and a loser at once. Read on and you'll see what I mean.

Winner: Amazon - for executing its plan for world domination just about perfectly. The online bookseller (doesn’t that original description sound quaint now?) has muscled its way into every facet of ecommerce, except perhaps legal weed. It’s run out of online merchants to co-opt or drive out of business, so it’s now buying brick-and-mortar chains like Whole Foods to destroy what’s left of the others.

FedEx, UPS, and even the United States Postal Service now work for Amazon. Dozens of cities in the U.S. and Canada are throwing billions of dollars at the company in fervent hope of attracting its second headquarters and 50,000 highly paid jobs. Amazon Prime, the company’s profit leader, is now offered to welfare and food stamp recipients at nearly half price because poor people must not be denied free shipping of things they can’t afford. And finally, there’s Amazon's Alexa, who totally does not eavesdrop on your private conversations for the NSA; she really works for the Internet Advertising Bureau.

Tech Winners and Losers of 2017

Loser: Amazon Web Services - for continuing to permit databases to be stored on its servers without even a password like “12345678” to protect them from theft. Thanks to AWS, the voting records and personal data of 200 million Americans were stolen as easily as a child might snatch candy from the bottom shelf of a supermarket checkout lane. A Verizon subcontractor used AWS to give away the customer records of 14 million subscribers, including phone numbers and account PINs. Even classified U.S. Army data was left on AWS for the taking like an old couch with a “FREE” sign left on the curb. AWS could fix this enormous problem simply by requiring strong passwords on everything, but it has not.

Winner: Bitcoin -for skyrocketing from $1,000 USD to over $21,000 during 2017. The original cryptocurrency has captured the imaginations and greed of Wall Street banks and common citizens alike, spawning hundreds of me-too cryptocurrencies offering “ground floor opportunities” to gamblers who fancy themselves investors. Now we even have officially sanctioned Bitcoin futures contracts, where short-sellers can ruin things for everyone else. Just don’t be like the early, frivolous Bitcoin buyers who have forgotten their account passwords.

Loser: Bitcoin - whose future is bleak because it was designed with a hard limit on the number of Bitcoins that can be created. The result is transaction fees now north of $20 each, killing any notion of using Bitcoin as an everyday payment method. The exponentially increasing difficulty of processing transactions has resulted in days-long delays during which the value of Bitcoin fluctuates up to 25% and more. Bitcoin users - as opposed to long-term “investors” - are fleeing to more open-ended and agile cryptocurrencies.

Winner: Facebook - which now claims over 2 billion members who are active at least monthly. No other social media platform comes even close, and thanks to the “network effect” none ever will before the Sun goes nova and engulfs the Earth. The game is over, Zuckerberg has won. His winnings included $10 billion in profit for 2016.

Loser: Facebook - for so many reasons ranging from trivial to earth-shaking. Why do I need the Chrome extension Social Fixer to make the Enter key work as it does everywhere else? Why is it so hard to keep Russian trolls from meddling in U.S. elections? Why did Facebook’s translation service get a Palestinian man arrested for posting “good morning?”

Winner: Google - for winning most of the legal battles it fought in 2017. The company bested Japanese “right to be forgotten” laws, and avoided $1.3 billion in French taxes. It also scored early victories in a California equal-pay class action lawsuit. Aside from its legal team, Google hasn’t done much big winning this year.

Loser: Google - for “intermittently” - that means repeatedly - blocking the UK’s entire National Health Service staff of 1.2 million employees after mistaking them for a bot network that launched cyber-attacks.

Winner: Uber - for disrupting the corrupt, overpriced, and frequently abusive taxi industry.

Loser: Uber - for being corrupt, overpriced, and frequently abusive.

These examples of winners and losers illustrate the ancient concept of Yin and Yang. In Chinese philosophy, there is no light without darkness; every good thing contains some evil, and vice versa. May the year 2018 bring us more good and less evil. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Tech Winners and Losers 2017"

Posted by:

04 Jan 2018

"Loser: Amazon Web Services - for continuing to permit databases to be stored on its servers without even a password like “12345678” to protect them from theft. "
They are a service that people use so they can do what they want. It is not Amazon's fault that people do stupid things and it shouldn't be their job to be a nanny to them.

Posted by:

04 Jan 2018

Good article, Bob. You are showing some great examples of "win some - lose some."

I think, tech from the get go has always been that scenario, but it does bother me that companies don't care about any of their customers, when security breaches happen all the time. Now, I understand the criminal element, they want the info for stealing financial information. I don't understand the business world for not caring that their customers are protected as much as possible.

I don't like Uber or Lyft. I worry not only for the riders but the drivers as well. To me, this is a very unsafe business. Drivers are using their own cars, without any security measures and simply take anyone to where they want to go. Nope, not for me.

As for Bitcoin - I still don't know what it is and how it works! Therefore, I will not participate.

Facebook has been wrong on many, many levels. I realize that it is free - Please tell me how Zuckerberg made all of his billions on a FREE product???!!! That to me says he was using the selling of information to advertisers and any others seeking the information.

Amazon still amazes me. I bought many a book from Amazon back in the late 90's, when it was strictly a online book store. I saved quite a bit of money by using Amazon. Basically, it took over Barnes & Noble, Waldenberg, Books-a-Million and lots of family owned bookstores across the USA. I don't care about the big book stores, but it's the Mom and Pop's bookstores that makes me feel bad.

Today, I do use Amazon for books and other things. I even have a Amazon Prime account. I like being able to see the newer movies for "free", not all of them just enough for me to pay monthly. }:O)

Google - What can I say - I use Google Chrome as my go to browser. I happen to love it. I know how to get around it and it feels comfortable as an old pair of slippers. Yes, there are security issues but I try to keep a tight control of my own security measures.

I am using Bitdefender these days, instead of Avast. I find that it really does take less resources than Avast. Plus, it seems to protect as much as Avast did. I liked the pricing I got for Bitdefender Total Security 2018 with up to 5 devices including PCs for 3 years at $129.99, normally a $199.99, a $70 savings. Probably in 3 years time, I will find another good, solid Antivirus/Malware program with good savings.

I must admit, it really does irritate me to no end, that you get good prices for a product when you are a first time customer. However, let you be a tried and true customer, no savings!!! I can't tell you how many times I have seen great discounts for new customers only, when I have been a customer for years. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Posted by:

05 Jan 2018

Winners/losers.Expect smartphones to dominate the lives of the unaware. Wake up--reach for phone. Walk out door--look at phone. Sit in car--check phone. Walk down street--answer phone. Sit in bus--open phone. Shop in supermarket--ring home with query. Have lunch with friends--phone rings--ignore friends. Have sex--phone goes-------

Posted by:

08 Jan 2018

Winner - Apple - for creating a device that even a 7 year old will instantly become addicted to.
Loser - Apple - see above.

Posted by:

15 Jan 2018

Be careful what you wish for, Bob! You chastize AWS "for continuing to permit databases to be stored on its servers without even a password", but what would you prefer? That they start overseeing and acting as gatekeeper to every piece of information that any individual or company places on a web server that's hosted on their virtual servers? Never mind that the cost of doing so would drive their rates through the roof, the Orwellian implications of that sort of surveillance is chilling! Either you don't understand what sort of service AWS provides, or you haven't really considered the ramifications of what you think they should be doing to secure other people's data. Should all web hosting companies become the Internet police?

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