We are one year old!
This tech blog, hatched from an innocuous discussion between a few of us grumpy tech scribes bitching about life over a Bishan Junction 8 Crystal Jade dim sum lunch, has ticked into its second year this month and we are still loving every minute of it.
Its been a terrific learning experience for all of us, and frankly, we have been astonished by the spritely life Techgoondu has taken, the fun – and angst – we’ve had blogging through this platform, and the heartening responses from you readers who have obliged us invaluable eyeballing time and thoughtful comments over the past 12 months.
Thank you all!!
Turning one is as much a thrill as it is a time to reflect. To blog about matters that are close to our geek hearts has been our biggest thrill. Writing on a platform that’s a distinctly alternative one to what our day job presents has been equally rewarding.
Reflecting on what has been an eventful journey in the past 12 months, we loved how vibrant the Singapore tech scene has been, and the cool gadgets galore. We were absolutely delighted at how this part of the world has started to become the focal point and product launch pads of consumer tech big wigs.
It means we get to play with the cool toys with less waiting time (except the slow-as-molasses-to-arrive iPhone!).
Of course, with highs come also the lows and there have been hair-tearing moments at disappointing tech developments and missed opportunities.
So here are our personal high and lowlights of the past year as we blow out the candle on the Techgoondu cake:
Highlights in the last 12 months
Alfred singled out three: the death knell sounded by mainstream newspaper firms worldwide, Android phones landing in Singapore and the rise of mobile broadband services; Roland cheered the Singapore government’s plan to use ‘new media’ for next elections; and Aaron put on his business goggles and picked Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystem for US$7.4 billion.
Chi Loong said yay to the Unconference 2009 event and Singapore startup Gothere; while my pick for the brightest tech spark of 2008 is the rise of the mobile application and unlimited download online music stores.
On the newspaper death knell, Alf sez: “it’s been prophesised many times, but this is finally coming for daily newspapers as news has become a commodity. Print is not dead, but newspaper as a vehicle for news is.
“Androids landing in Singapore is the best news after the iPhone hype and years of Nokia domination. Here’s a phone that does so much – touchscreen, GPS, etc – without fanfare.
“Singapore’s broadband penetration shot past 100 per cent because of the surge in takeup of such on-the-go services. Prices as a result of competition have come down, while speeds have gone up, well, at least on paper.”
Roland: “Singapore government’s plan to use ‘new media’ for next elections is significant in that the people who run the country finally recognise that its not just anonymous, inflammatory blog posts out there.
“So what will they do beyond starting Facebook groups and adding new ‘friends’? Well, who cares? As long as more avenues are “allowed”, it’ll be easier to hear a wider diversity of views, and diss terrible rap videos.”
Aaron: “The Oracle-Sun deal marks Oracle’s first acquisition of a vendor with a significant hardware business. While this acquisition presents opportunities for further synergies between Oracle and Sun, there are also issues that could derail the effort. Oracle needs to balance the interests of its lucrative database business with Sun’s MySQL open source database product. That’s on top on the competing middleware products from both companies.”
Chi Loong: “Unconference 2009 is simply well run. It has great content, good overseas speakers and lots of interesting start-ups. Didn’t expect it to be that polished, but it was. Of all the start-up and web 2.0 events I’ve been to, this was the one that surprised me pleasantly the most. Kudos to the e27 folks for pulling this off. This is their 3rd year running this, and they are starting to show some traction.
“Gothere, which started last May, was not new when I talked to them, but this is a start-up I really like. One, because this map and directory service trashes everything out there – Streetdirectory, et al and don’t even get me started on Rednano. They have street level views, a mobile site, tracking for ERP, best times, cheapest fares, etc. Great service. Two, because the founders of Gothere are really nice folks.
“Plus they had lots of passion to keep it going, despite having no business model late last year – they just wanted to build a great service. Luckily they ended up getting noticed by LTA, who’s giving them business now.”
My two faves: the rise of Web-connected software and content stores, and buffet-style music downloading services. The app store space looks the next battleground for mobile vendors and will give smartphones wings. Nokia’s way of letting users pay for their app store purchases via operators is a pretty dandy move too.
The appearance of all-you-can-download music services here, like Nokia’s Comes With Music, Sony Ericsson’s PlayNow Plus and, recently, SingTel’s AMPed, are just terrific news for music lovers.
Top gadgets in the last 12 months
The Nokia E71 has been a standout phone for me, but has now been topped by the HTC Magic – no, wait, make that topped by the raft of upcoming phones with the Android platform. My next phone is in that raft.
Alf also chose the HTC Magic, together with the ATI Radeon HD4870x2 and Marantz PM7003 integrated amp.
Roland picked netbooks (“Vendors finally realising not everyone wants to take along the kitchen sink when you are on the move and more importantly, found a CHEAP way to let u always put a notebook in your bag without much thinking.”), and the Nokia E71 (“Best bang-for-buck smartphone out there in the past year, in a slim, svelt package”.)
Instead of gadgets, Chi Loong singled out his fave Singapore start-ups and services. They are Gothere (Singapore mapping and directions service), Phokki (digital art marketplace), 2359 Media (location based services), MakeAffinity (live robotics platform) and Dropcast (first made-in-Singapore Nintendo DS game). And not least, “for passion, gotta give it to MakeAffinity and 2359 Media – always pitching their hearts out at start-up events”.
Aaron propped up Google Chrome: “You have to love this Web browser for its speed and simplicity. Search Google from the address bar, incognito browsing, and thumbnails of most visited site – it’s been a while since we got excited by a browser.”
“StarHub winning the NBN OpCo seems like an industry-centric piece of news for the telecom world, but it also formally signals the end of any hopes of a foreign telco owning key infrastructure here and challenging the SingTel-StarHub duopoly here,” sez Alf.
Roland cried foul with the “full” mobile number portability initiative in Singapore “because, while mobile penetration in Singapore shoots past 130 percent, its got a half-baked number portability solution that doesn’t let you port between prepaid and postpaid numbers, and vice versa. How full-ish is that?”
Aaron: “The iPhone 3G S. Apple can do better than coming up with a souped-up iPhone on steroids. A longer battery life, MMS and a 3-megapixel camera are not things to shout about. How about a change in form factor?”
Biggest letdown for Chi Loong was Warhammer Online. “I tried desperately to like this game. No, make that love this game. I love PvP, and when a realm PvP match gets going, it’s incredible. Unfortunately, this is not enough. It had so much potential, but a small player base spread out over too many factions and quests (6 factions in all), balance issues, lag problems, polish issues (e.g. non-existent crafting) were too much to take.
“Sorry, Mythic. I re-subbed once, but I got so bored I went back to playing Guildwars – a game I never left ever since I quit WoW.”
My biggest peeve is the flipside of my pick for highlights: online music stores. Don’t get me wrong, I love the inroads being made in the past year, especially by vendors which dared to offer unlimited song downloads, but those dicey compressed sound quality issue and restrictive digital rights management schemes will always be major bugbears for such services until they are banished for good. Dare we hope the next 12 months will finally bring pervasive DRM-free music to the masses?