Bitcoin, WhatsApp crashes and Nokia 3310 took centre stage in 2017


Johannesburg - This year was one of ups and downs for the tech industry and cyber space with surprising smartphone launches and massive data breaches taking centre stage. 

1) Bitcoin

The price of one Bitcoin rose astronomically during 2017, despite huge fluctuations seen in the performance of the cryptocurrency. In January 2017, the cost of one Bitcoin was between $800 and $1 150, but December 2017 saw the cost of one Bitcoin surge to $18 000.

2) iPhone X

Apple surprised the world with the launch of the latest iPhone to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the smartphone from Apple. The iPhone X, pronounced iPhone Ten, stole the spotlight from the annual release of Apple’s flagship device - the iPhone 8.

Packed with features the iPhone X set a new trend for the future of smartphone design. 

3) #DataMustFall

While customers continue to demand a decrease in the cost of data, mobile networks have made efforts toward offering data at a more affordable cost.

The #DataMustFall campaign gained massive traction in 2017,  prompting the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to issue a new regulation for networks to drop out-of-bundle rates and extending bundle expiry. 

4) Nostalgia from 90s tech

Fin24 readers responded positively to news of two 90s products relaunched in 2017. Earlier this year, Japanese game-producer Bandai Namco announced the relaunch of the Tamagotchi, while Nokia brought the iconic 3310 back into South Africa, sparking nostalgia from fans of both brands. 

5) SA data breach and cyber attacks 

One of the biggest data breaches plagued South Africa this year.

Despite the country having a population of 56 million, a data breach revealed the information of 60 million unique ID numbers, including information on SA citizens that were deceased or living abroad.

The information was stored in a torrent file in the dark web and was alleged to have been leaked from a credit bureau. The country was also affected by two massive cyber attacks "WannaCry" and "Petya" which caused a denial of service and massive financial losses globally.  

6) Movement in SA Digital Migration and analogue switch off

South Africa’s roll-out of digital TV had been hampered by delays after an initial deadline of June 17, 2015 passed. The country’s digital broadcast migration project had been dogged by hold-ups, with the company behind the roll-out of set-top boxes even temporarily halting production of the boxes needed to ensure signal to television sets.

New Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo recently met with local broadcasters to meet the new December 2018 deadline to switch off analogue. The first phase of the analogue switch-off and migration to digital broadcasting commenced in October last year in the Northern Cape.

7) Panic caused by WhatsApp crashes

Scores of South Africans flocked to Twitter when WhatsApp crashed twice in November, upsetting millions around the world. The app was reported to have experienced at least four to five glitches which knocked out service in 2017.

The worst, however, was when the service was knocked out for at least 6 hours at the beginning of November and about 2 hours toward the end of November. 

8) Push for Smart Cities in SA and globally

Organisations, companies and some government departments made a push for South Africa to get closer to having its first Smart City.

One of South Africa’s first smart city developments, in Modderfontein and worth over R80bn, has been dogged by delays and downgraded from initial plans.

Edwin Diender, smart city expert and VP for Government and Public Utility Sector of Huawei Enterprise Business Group, who had been dealing with provincial governments, told Fin24 that smart city construction was heavily dependent on the attitudes of governments around the world for its adoption.

9) Samsung bounce back after Note7 disaster

Toward the latter part of 2016, Samsung saw massive reputational damage after Note7 smartphones around the world exploded due to battery faults.

This year the company redeemed itself with the launch of its flagship S8 smartphone and recently announced phablet smartphone the Note8, which is also the successor to the notorious Note7.

This time the device was repackaged and an 8-point safety check is done on each of the smartphones produced by the South Korean company. 

10) Less need for bank branches because of digitalisation

Susanne Chishti, founder of FinTech Circle – a global community of entrepreneurs - told Fin24 that people will soon no longer need a bank branch in a digital age where people can easily bank on their smartphones.

The sentiment was echoed by numerous companies and experts in the financial technology industry.

Paul Feenan, Africa director of mobile wallet company, Jumo told City Press that banks have archaic systems and could evolve quickly enough.

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