Translating the Year in Tech

After thumbing through every 2014 issue of this magazine, five tech trends rose to the top:

(1) We’re now squarely in the middle of the transition to “all-IP” (Internet Protocol), as the umbrella technology-enabling clouddelivered services, bandwidth (wired and wireless), connected devices, TV everywhere and all else in the technological vogue. It began with the cable modem, in the late ’90s. Nobody really knows when the “all” part of “all-IP” will happen — but “not in my lifetime” is a seldom-heard response.

(2) This year, the term “OTT” — over-the-top — became less of a categorical description of Netflix, Amazon and the rest of the new ilk of video competition, and more of a common technological ingredient, used by all. In short, with every step toward cloud, operators are “overthe- topping themselves.”

(3) The recognition that “the competition” now extends beyond satellite and telco-delivered services, to the OTT camp, brought with it a new “tech culture” reality. Vendors, operators and programmers alike spent a sizeable chunk of 2014 retooling to work at “Web speed,” which means adopting agile software and “DevOps” strategies.

(4) RDK, the Reference Design Kit, rose in strategic importance this year, big-time. Evidence: In October, Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries famously called RDK “a DOCSIS moment,” referencing the cable-modem specification that changed the economics of what became the broadband industry.

(5) “Speed vs. capacity” will sustain as one of the more important tech subtleties. It’s the “Gig” that can gum things up: Gigahertz is a unit of capacity, Gigabyte a unit of storage, and Gigabit a measure of speed. But! Throughput, or, the amount of stuff we’re moving to and from our various screens, is just as important. Knowing the distinctions matters.

That’s the short list! Merry merry, and may your 2015 technologies be kind and useful. Stumped by gibberish?

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