A decade of innovation

THE twenty-tens (the period between 2010 and the end of 2019) has been nothing but stellar, technology-wise. A lot of game-changing innovations were introduced during this period which pretty much changed the way we live, communicate, work, travel, and so on.

We’ve moved from the era of slow Internet to fast broadband, and seen how smartphones evolved into becoming the most important device to mankind. Disruptive e-commerce technologies like e-hailing, online shopping, online bookings and hotel booking engines have changed the industry forever, while the power of social media has brought about new ways in communicating and lifestyles.

Here are the top 10 innovations and happenings of this decade.


While players like Apple and Samsung dominated the smartphone market in the early to third quarter, the Chinese mega company Huawei started to show its prowess with devices like P and Mate series phones.

By the third quarter of this year, Huawei had overtaken Apple to take the second spot with 18.6 per cent of the worldwide market share, with Samsung still holding the crown at 21.8 per cent share.

The China powerhouses (companies such as Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo), employing good go-to-market strategies with more affordable premium phones and strategic partnerships with premium makers like Leica (in Huawei’s case), is expected to further penetrate the global smartphone market. The birth and surge of new and aggressive mobile players also saw early giants like Blackberry, SonyEricsson, Motorola and Nokia back out of the industry. Motorola, however, continued to have a second life after it was taken over by Lenovo in October, 2014, and just recently, the company announced the Motorola Razr foldable screen smartphone, which resembles the iconic flip screen Razr phone from 15 years ago.

Nokia, on the other hand, after a failed Nokia Lumia initiative with Microsoft, got another life extension under HMD Global, and now three years after finally adopting Android OS, the Finnish brand is slowly building its global market share starting small, with just 1.1 to 1.2 per cent market share based on Counterpoint Research study.


This is the main platform for almost all the innovations that we use today, such as messaging apps, e-commerce apps, social media, business applications and productivity tools. From being a device that was used only for making calls, sending SMSes and basic web surfing, smartphones have evolved to embrace more than just connectivity.

The advancement in phone processors like the Apple Bionic, Qualcomm Snapdragon, HiSilicon Kirin and Samsung Exynos has enabled smartphones to do almost anything, including replacing laptop computers to a certain extent.

Besides that, the device has become the preferred daily photography tool for most users because of the innovations in phone cameras, and the wealth of mobile apps extend the capability of smartphones today.

With prices going down and as mobile broadband becomes more affordable, the usage of smartphones is predicted to increase by ten-fold by 2020. According to Ericsson Mobility Report, advanced mobile technology will be globally ubiquitous by 2020 with 70 per cent of people using smartphones and 90 per cent covered by mobile broadband networks.

It also states that smartphone subscriptions will more than double by 2020, reaching 6.1 billion, and almost 80 per cent of these new subscriptions will come from the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.


Social media, during this decade, has grown to unprecedented heights. Almost, if not all, Internet users today have some sort of social media account like Facebook, Youtube and Instagram. What makes social media so popular, on top of being free, is that it has become an extension of a person’s life and also a source of information and networking platform.

With an estimated 3.48 billion users up to this year, the number of social media users is expected to grow 10 per cent year on year. Besides being used as a platform to share one’s daily activities, thoughts, and photos, social media has also become a formidable marketing tool to many businesses — big and small.

Besides that, its popularity has also given birth to a new breed of “marketers” better known as influencers. With thousands, and even millions of followers, they are often used by companies to “promote” certain products and services. Some are making millions and earning a good living.

Meeting new people is also no longer awkward, as social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and video streaming app TikTok are making this easier.


This decade has also been a “disruptive” one in terms of technological innovations.

The start-up phenomenon has given birth to new companies with ground-breaking products that have completely changed the industry. For example, e-hailing and food ordering apps like Uber and Grab changed the way people commute, while e-commerce sites like Shopee and Lazada revolutionised the way we shop, and hotel booking and vacation platforms like Booking.com, Agoda, Airbnb, Traveloka and Expedia became companies with the biggest collection of rooms without “owning” a single property.

These companies thrive because of the convenience they offer to users, as well as the trust people have in online transactions. The confidence people have in transacting online has Aldo driven the popularity of online shopping sites like Shopee, Lazada, ShopBack and the likes, which, to a certain point, have affected many of the brick-and-mortar businesses.

The convenience consumers get as well as the access to a plethora of products at cheaper prices, with monthly promotions and discounts; have further strengthened these online shopping sites business. According to ShopBack Malaysia, the traffic and sales of the 12.12 shopping campaign have increased by approximately 150 to 300 per cent compared to last year’s 12.12.


This technology has long been visualised and used in movies. For example, in 2001 a science fiction film Artificial Intelligence was released and it gave some ideas on what AI will be about. Unlike in the movie, AI world domination did not happen but it showed its potential when Google DeepMind AlphaGo AI beat world Go (an abstract strategy board game) champion Lee Sedol in 2015.

Today, we are blessed with voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby, Microsoft’s Cortana as well as Alibaba’s TMall Genie who all make using the smart devices and tech services easier.


When wireless broadband Internet becomes standard connectivity for smartphones and its coverage becomes wider and affordable, streaming services flourish.

The popularity of cable TV services are diminishing while the businesses selling entertainment content via DVDs and CDs have almost disappeared.

By the third quarter of this decade, we saw streaming services like Netflix, Viu, Apple TV, Spotify, and others gain traction among users with a steady increase in subscription numbers. In terms of entertainment, consumers have generally moved from watching content on TVs to watching on personal mobile devices. The fact that these streaming services’ content are all on-demand, come in very high quality (even in 4K) and are affordable has made them the preferred way of consuming entertainment, especially among the younger generations.

The advancements in display technology in smartphones and tablets, giving users ultra HD display, have also fuelled the popularity and uptake of steaming service


The twenty-tens is also an era of wireless technology. We’ve seen many products that have cut the cords they once had — devices like headphones, earphones, phone chargers, and even vacuum cleaners. Thanks to the improvement in rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries, more devices are able to operate for hours without the need for a direct electricity supply.

Some examples of these wireless technologies include the Apple AirPods, Dyson Vacuum Cleaners, and many more.


No doubt wearables are among the important innovations of this decade. Wearable technology has a variety of applications which grow as the field itself expands. They appear prominently in consumer electronics with the popularisation of the smartwatches, activity trackers, smart glasses, AR/VR devices, wireless earphones, clothes and shoes.

Apart from commercial uses, wearable technology is being incorporated into navigation systems, advanced textiles and healthcare.


Going green has been one of the main goals of manufacturers and this has resulted in millions of hybrid and electric vehicles on the road, which in a way helps in reducing carbon dioxide output.

While almost all manufacturers have their version of green vehicles like the Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf, and Renault Zoe, Tesla is one of the leading ones with its all-electric car line-ups. Its founder Elon Musk even sent one of the new Tesla Roadsters to space under the SpaceX programme.

The Roadster model has a range of 1,000km on its 200 kWh battery packs. The future is definitely big for this type of vehicles.

By Izwan Ismail & Nur Zarina Othman.

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