The 10 Biggest Tech Disruptions Of 2015

Danielle Beurteaux

2015 was a lively year in the tech sector, with some major product releases, new governmental regulations, and a few flops. Here’s our roundup, in no particular order.

1. Apple Watch

The first Apple smartwatch was released in April to much fanfare and many reviews. Sales numbers hint at less than saturation for the market. However, look for version 2 in 2016, which, depending on which rumor you pay attention to, could either be much the same as the first, or a big improvement.

2. Tesla Powerwall

Tesla, no longer just for cars. In a bid to put homeowners in control of their house’s energy, Tesla opened up orders for its Powerwall home battery product, reportedly receiving 100,000 reservations. Vermont is the lucky state where the first units in the U.S. will be installed by Green Mountain Energy.

3. Drones

The FAA began requiring drone registration in late December, just before the anticipated Christmas drone-buying rush. The site crashed (crashes…drones…where have we heard that before?) on the first registration day as 45,000 droners tried to sign up.

4. Hoverboards

The FAA and most major carriers are saying hoverboards are on the no-fly list, several U.S. cities say they’re a no-no on public sidewalks and streets (although that could change in New York), and there  have been reports of the devices catching fire and exploding. Also, lots of hospital visits for the many who took a spill. A bicycle sounds really good right about now.

5. Google -> Alphabet

Google officially changed its name to Alphabet in October. Alphabet is now the parent company, and Google one of its child companies. Or something. Here’s a good explainer of what happened. But is anyone calling Google Alphabet? I mean, Alphabet Google?

6. Hacked cars and driverless autos

There are driverless cars, and cars being driven but not by their drivers. In the first instance, there are Google’s experiments with its self-driving cars, leading to some interesting interactions and some confusion. Let’s just say this will be a learning process for a while.

In the second, Wired documented what happens when a car driving along a major highway is remotely hacked and controlled.

7. Chip-and-pin card rollout

The switch to chip-and-pin debit and credit cards was supposed to be done by the beginning of October, but that didn’t happen. Many retailers, particularly small shops, didn’t want to replace their point-of-service technology to accommodate the changes. And most consumers seemed confused by the point of it all.

8. Net neutrality

An argument that’s been waging for a while was finally put to rest when the rules for net neutrality were passed by the FCC. The Open Internet Order now classifies Internet access as a public utility.

9. Peeple

The storm was fierce and short. Peeple, an idea for a social network based on rating other people, was itself reviewed harshly before it was even launched. The company changed its purpose and now is an online management app.

10. Robots, robots, robots

They’re cute, running hotels, and will take over our lives. And maybe we want them to, kind of? Pepper, the “robot with a heart,” sold out in a single minute. Expect this one to continue as a hot topic in 2016 and beyond.

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Danielle Beurteaux

About Danielle Beurteaux

Danielle Beurteaux is a New York–based writer who covers business, technology, and philanthropy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and on Popular Mechanics, CNN, and Institutional Investor's Alpha, among other outlets.