With a number of exciting efforts already in place for the earlier half of the decade, particularly in the technological space, the timing would be right for a number of key products to make their debut.
The period would be defined by the arrival of the smartphone, the watershed moment occurring with the unveiling of the first iPhone in 2007. While there had been comparable devices prior to Apple’s, its full feature set, connectivity, and ease of use, made it a commercial success and redefined the company, putting it on the path to becoming the first trillion dollar company. The smartphone in general, be it from Apple or the multitude of Android powered options, its ever improving camera capabilities, and its associated apps provided the platform for mobile first products such as Instagram that was launched in 2010, becoming a dominant force in the social media space. This degree of connectivity through digital messaging would also provide the catalyst for the beginning of the Arab Spring popular uprisings, as well as grassroots campaigning during the 2008 US presidential elections that would see Barack Obama elected, proving the power of social networks.
For many, the era is marked by the subprime mortgage crisis that would begin in 2007 and lead to the Great Recession, taking such storied institutions as Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy, causing many to take a long hard look at international banking policy. While the situation was embedding in 2008, there were some brighter spots, particularly in the scientific community, with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN making its first tests in September of that year.
Another pivotal moment that occurred the same month was the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket, becoming the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to achieve orbit around the Earth. This milestone would open the door for private space flight and cargo deployment, through the rapid development of the SpaceX program to use reusable components such as its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 launch systems, dramatically lowering the associated costs with space travel. At a rather lower altitude, the Airbus A380 would enter service in 2008, ushering in a new age for air travel as the first full-length double-deck aircraft, and the largest passenger airline to have ever flown.
An event that would have little impact in the years that immediately followed, but would become the roots for a dominant topic later was the publication of a paper on the cryptocurrency bitcoin paper in 2008, under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto’s publication, and the mining of its genesis block in 2009. While the early uses for the decentralised digital currency were rather nefarious, Bitcoin eventually became increasingly mainstream together with a variety of other cryptocurrencies, and their underlying blockchain distributed ledger technology has seen a numerous other applications, including in the horological world, where some brands are deploying it for recording and authenticating watches.
2006 to 2010 would establish so many core ingredients for future development across sectors, it is fascinating to reflect on the period now, where so much was hiding in plain sight and didn’t receive the attention that it deserved at the time. Hindsight is certainly 20:20.