The Year 2014 Was Quite A Newsmaker
Posted on December 23, 2014 | By Rick Grigalunas | Leave a response
The Year 2014 Was Quite A Newsmaker
As 2014 now draws to an end, it’s time to reflect on what has been another challenging, busy and hectic year. At ES Components, quoting and orders are on the rise. More new and innovative electronic devices will be introduced by our Franchised suppliers, in 2015, all designed to help our customers meet their most difficult challenges.
Our new ES Components website was launched this year and customer feedback has been positive. One new feature, our new Inventory Off-The-Shelf Search Tool, makes searching for electronic devices a breeze.
Our Sales Team remains focused on quality service, committed to providing the highest quality products and services, meeting or exceeding requirements, delivered on time, at a price you can afford.
The current economic forecast looks positive. The year 2015 looks promising. As always, businesses will look to streamline where need be, with the goal of passing along these advantages and savings to valued customers. We thank you all for your past and continued support!
The Year 2014 Was Quite A Newsmaker
Eric Garner; John Crawford; Michael Brown; Ezell Ford; Tamir Rice.
These are just a few of the names of black people killed by police on American streets — most of them unarmed, some of them teenagers as young as 12 years old, some of them left face-down in the middle of the street for hours. And they are on the minds of many Americans who have stood up across the country in sadness and outrage over a long history of brutal police tactics that have wrongly claimed the lives of many before them. Their deaths have sparked nationwide protests by people of all political and social stripes who are demanding police reform and telling the world that black lives matter.
Legal weed makes big strides
On January 1st, Colorado made history by becoming the first state in the US to allow for the sale of marijuana for recreational use, and in just four months, pot sales exceeded more than $200 million. Washington followed suit in July, and just last month, citizens in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC voted in favor of joining them.
No story in 2014 represented a more violent collision between technology and pop culture than “Celebgate.” Hundreds of private, often nude photos of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, and Kate Upton were stolen and leaked onto the internet, with users on Reddit, 4chan, and other sites rapidly redistributing and republishing them.
The series of leaks were shocking in their scale, but the real reason Celebgate dominated mainstream conversation in September was because it touched on several major topical issues facing the internet and the world: the frequently reprehensible attitude toward women online (see also: Gamergate), data and security risks in the age of the cloud, and the right to privacy, to name but three.
It took many months for the Western world to take notice of the devastation caused by the Ebola virus in West Africa. As a result, more than 6,000 people died, and this year’s outbreak became the largest ever recorded. Yet, even as Ebola remained concentrated in three West African countries — Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone — many in the US reacted in fear.
This year’s outbreak became the largest ever recorded
For instance, when a man traveling from Liberia, Thomas Duncan, became the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the US, people of African descent were faced with immense discrimination. Later, when Duncan died and an American doctor returning from Africa was diagnosed in New York, politicians fought over the implementation of flight restrictions that, had they been stricter, would have made it harder for healthcare workers to travel abroad, and would have lead to more infections worldwide.
The smartwatch wars
Smartwatches weren’t a new thing in 2014, but this was the year when the big players threw their hats into the ring.
This summer, Google launched Android Wear, a version of its mobile operating system designed specifically for watches. Android Wear is very powerful — it lets you do a lot of things just from your wrist — but like the first versions of Android for smartphones, it has a number of usability and reliability issues. Many of Google’s smartphone partners launched their first Android Wear watches this year, including Motorola, Samsung, LG, and Asus, but none have yet taken off in the same way that smartphones have.
High drama for cord-cutters
Some dreams were shattered, other dreams were made. 2014 was a rocky, high-stakes year for everyone hoping to watch all of their TV online, but it looks like cord-cutters may ultimately be coming out the winners.
The decisive internet TV story of 2014 was the fall of Aereo. Aereo used what appeared to be a legal loophole to offer online streams of broadcast TV, and it very much felt like the future. That’s why, for cord-cutters, it was a dramatic moment when the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo violated copyright law, instantly dealing a fatal blow to the company. But while it seemed to be a decision that might only stifle innovation, it turned out that broadcasters were listening.
Cord-cutters’ dreams are starting to come true
Now, cord-cutters’ dreams really are starting to come true: in October, CBS launched an internet TV service, becoming the first major broadcaster to do so; HBO has announced plans to offer an online service beginning next year; and Showtime is supposed to move online in the near future, too. There’s also a chance that internet TV providers could also have a big year in 2015, thanks to a potential FCC rule change giving them a major jump start. So yes, Aereo may be dead. But going into 2015, things are actually looking up.
Microsoft gets a new boss — and a new game plan
When we look back at Microsoft’s future successes or failures, 2014 will be a defining year in the company’s history. Satya Nadella — a 22-year-veteran server and enterprise guy at Microsoft — was appointed to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO in February, and he didn’t take long to make his mark. With a focus on cloud and mobile computing, Nadella has transformed Microsoft’s strategy in an attempt to rival the modern tactics of its competitors. It all started in March when Office for iPad finally debuted, and throughout the year Microsoft hasn’t been scared to make big bets.
Nadella made Windows and Windows Phone free of charge for devices with screens smaller than 9 inches, a sign that he was going after Android. Smartphone and tablet makers haven’t flocked to the platform as a result, but it’s the first time Microsoft has made Windows free at such a large scale.
2014 will be a defining year in Microsoft’s history
2014 also saw Microsoft morph from a software giant into a hardware giant. A $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s phone business means Microsoft now controls over 90 percent of all Windows Phone devices in a continued struggle for mobile.
Big phones are in
From their very beginning, smartphones have adhered to the maxim that bigger is better. Screen sizes grow as quickly as the underlying technology is able to move, and every year adds another few millimeters to the average smartphone’s width and height. 2014 marks the apogee of this trend with almost every flagship Android phone having a 5-inch screen or above and even Apple’s iPhone growing significantly. Apple was the last remaining holdout with its 4-inch iPhone 5S, but in 2014 it embraced the “bigger than bigger” tagline and introduced 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models that conclusively sealed the fate of smaller handsets as secondary or budget options.
The fight for net neutrality
2014 was the year that net neutrality died… and lived… and ended up in limbo. At the start of the year, the 2010 Open Internet Order — a rule that prevented ISPs from blocking or discriminating against sites and services — was struck down in court. Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler scrambled to replace it, but his new plan was met with suspicion. Net neutrality’s opponents wouldn’t have supported any rule, and others worried that a loophole would let ISPs offer “fast lanes” to companies that paid more. Exacerbating the matter, Comcast announced a bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, potentially putting over than half the US broadband market in the hands of one company.
The meteoric, controversial rise of Uber
There are many ways you could chronicle Uber’s controversial, seemingly unstoppable rise in 2014, but here’s the one that might matter most: since it launched its ride-sharing platform in San Francisco, the number of taxi rides taken there has plunged 65 percent. That’s how fast, cheap, easy, and (usually) safe the service is — most of us would rather use the app than wave a hand at a passing car. If Uber has proven one thing this year, it’s that convenience is king — and its explosive growth continues unabated, despite an endless series of management issues that would leave less useful companies in a ditch.
You can like it, or you can learn to live with it — Uber looks to become the most valuable company of its generation
“Actually, it’s about ethics in games journalism.”
That’s the rallying cry of Gamergate, variously described as a “consumer revolt,” a misogynist hate group, or a loose but incredibly vocal aggregation of people upset about progressive politics and close ties between game developers and journalists.
The roots of Gamergate reach back to August, when the ex-boyfriend of game developer Zoe Quinn accused her of infidelity. Some of Quinn’s detractors, who already hated her non-traditional text game Depression Quest, speculated that she’d started affairs to get good press, and that this was only one of many conflicts of interest in games journalism. There wasn’t any meat to that particular claim, but it came at the same time as a backlash to feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, creator of a video series about women in games. The situation quickly turned into a full-blown online culture war, with self-described “gamers” fighting social progressives and news outlets with boycott campaigns and deluges of angry messages.
ISIS’ campaign of terror
ISIS wasn’t terrifying only because of its brutality. It was the fact that the brutality was seemingly everywhere: on TV, and on Twitter, and on YouTube. What’s worse, it was all orchestrated to happen exactly that way.
This year, the militant group’s propaganda arm churned out high-quality recruitment videos to grow its ranks. Members used a dedicated app to automatically post violent images to social media, artificially inflating their numbers before strikes to give themselves an edge against the Iraqi army. A Photoshopped image of a militant next to the phrase “Baghdad, we are coming” spread across social media. The tactics seemed to work: soldiers fled their posts as ISIS continued its planned takeover of the Middle East.
And the violence only escalated from there. After the group beheaded journalist James Foley, its members uploaded the footage online. Although companies worked to take down the gruesome video, it had its effect: stills from the footage quickly appeared on news sites and papers across the world.
A banner year for security, or lack thereof
Everything seemed to be breaking this year. In the early months, a nasty bug called Backoff started stealing credentials from register-side card readers, hitting Target, Home Depot and PF Chang’s along with half dozen other major retailers. By the time the dust settled, the damage was into the hundreds of millions — and that was just the beginning. Researchers found major holes in the basic protocols that keep the web secure: first Heartbleed, then Shellshock, then Poodle. Then, in November, the attack on Sony Pictures gave us the messiest and meanest corporate leak in living memory. Taken together, it’s been an important and painful wakeup call — we need to get past passwords, and get smarter about storing data.
Apple buys Beats
A company spending $3 billion to acquire a startup these days doesn’t seem like the type of news that would send shockwaves throughout multiple industries, but when Apple is dropping that type of cash, all bets are off.
Back in May, news broke that Apple was on the verge of acquiring Beats Electronics — the company co-founded by legendary producer Dr. Dre that turned headphones into a fashion staple and created a music streaming service with an artist-first mentality. The price was intriguing — before Beats, Apple had never exceeded the $1 billion mark while acquiring another company — but it wasn’t the cause of the stunned reaction.
The push for commercial drones intensifies
It was exactly one year ago this month that Amazon announced it was hard at work on its own fleet of delivery drones, elevating an idea that had been techno-fantasy to an R&D project backed by Jeff Bezos’ billions and a friendly promotional video. This past summer, Google announced it was pursuing the same goal, and had been actively testing delivery drones in the Australian Outback. With two of tech’s biggest names pushing forward, and the FAA expected to unveil its rules for commercial drone flight over the US in 2015, it seemed the stage was set for the birth of a fascinating new industry.
Drones will be a much more common sight
Gas Prices Plummet
Fighters with the Islamic State group have seized oil fields, huge swathes of territory and major cities in Iraq and Syria, threatening oil supplies. Russian separatists have launched a war against Ukraine, apparently with the backing of the Kremlin, which has spurred the U.S. and European Union to impose sanctions on Russia, the world’s second-largest oil exporter in 2012.
And yet, average gas and diesel prices at the pump have fallen to their lowest levels in September in four years.
“Initially, when you saw violence in the Middle East, the reaction was, ‘Oh, my goodness, this is going to threaten markets, this is going to threaten supply,'” says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy and founder of the Oil Price Information Service. “That’s not happening now.”
Gasoline averaged $3.30 a gallon Monday morning, and diesel averaged $3.77 – down from highs this year of about $3.70 and $4, respectively, according to data compiled by GasBuddy. Those prices are expected to keep falling through the end of the year.
Today, December 23,2014, the price in Massachusetts, USA, was $2.43. Still falling!