Rewind Media: A brief review of key digital developments in the last year

To identify the kinds of people who might appear in this year’s Media Power 20 (MP20), it’s worth rewinding through some of the issues and themes of the last year in digital media. So, in no particular order and by no means comprehensively, here’s a subjective take on some of the most interesting developments of recent times.

To Transmit or Stream, that is the question

As we were going to press (as they used to say) with this post, news broke about the decision to move BBC Three from the transmitters to the iplayer. Those young people are all online, you know. Telly is so yesterday. But is it? From smart TVs to second (and third) screens and dedicated YouTube TV Channels to Netflix, we’re in the middle of that long talked-about convergence.

Privacy

The Snowden revelations of last year, in particular around the practices of the NSA in the States and our own GCHQ, have brought the issue of data privacy into even sharper focus. The big players in the digital sector have responded to consumers and governments, but could the focus on data privacy and greater awareness (not to mention fear) among online users also open up new opportunities?

Mergers and Acquisitions

Hardly a week goes by without some mega bucks deal, from Tumblr to WhatsApp. Digital M&A activity has been keeping the legal and financial sector busy and creating headlines with numbers where most of us struggle to work out how many zeros are needed. As well as more consolidation, we can surely look forward to yet more startups in the digital space.

Internet of Things

Not a year goes by when someone doesn’t predict that it’s going to be the year when the internet becomes as ubiquitous to ‘things’ as mere humans. But far cleverer and more knowledgeable people than me suggest 2014 really will be THE year. Not even fridges serving up spam attacks can stop it now.

3D Printing

No, I don’t fully understand it. In the same way black holes and the theory of relativity cause excessive brain scratching. I need Maggie Philbin in the Tomorrow’s World studio to make me fully enagge. But, it must be one of 2013’s most important developments – BBC’s Newsnight did a demo.

Wearable Technology

Along with those clever printers, Google Glasses must be one of the most quoted pieces of emerging digital hardware of the last year (outside phones/tablets/computers). Will 2014 see them launch beyond the elite few? Overall, wearable technology is going to figure strongly from now on, even if every invention doesn’t necessarily catch on.

Cloud Computing

You knew that Cloud Computing had really arrived as a mainstream concept when “cloud computing pioneer” Piers Linney took a seat in the Dragon’s Den. Better data organisation, access through multiple devices and emails in the cloud are things many of us now take for granted. The outlook is certainly becoming cloudier.

Mobile

Accessing the web on the move is now tipping the balance compared to desktop browsing and downloading, which is making providers in many areas rethink even harder about how their content is presented and consumed on both smartphone and tablet devices. Responsive design and geo-targeted content are bound to be trends which grow and provide more opportunities for digital entrepreneurs.

Social Media

For every story about the rise of the Internet of Things, there’s usually one about the imminent demise of Facebook. The social media giant has other ideas – and the growth of new services does not mean the fall of others, just consumers using different services for different uses or connections. Advertising on social media and private social media were two of the more notable other developments in this space last year.

Native Advertising

The interplay between brand owner, publishers and other content providers and digital consumers is becoming ever more sophisticated. Where trust and loyalty converge come opportunities which often prove more fruitful than traditional forms of advertising or PR. For news and beyond, BuzzFeed has certainly disrupted convention.

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