What were the top stories impacting the technology media landscape in 2021?

In this final Hot Media Insights blog for 2021, we reflect on the news stories and trends that have driven transformation across the tech landscape this year.

Q1  

  • In Q1 2021, Netflix started to crack down on password sharing, as reported by The Times. The global streaming giant began trailing two-factor authentication (2FA) across accounts, in attempt to both verify account users and to minimise security risks of unauthorised password sharing. While introducing 2FA itself wouldn’t stop password sharing altogether, it could create a new layer of friendly friction for Netflix’s subscriptions and help to maintain a level of trust amongst its users. Beyond the initial trial at the start of 2021, Netflix has still not announced plans to roll out these new 2FA security features to all users, however we may see progress here as we move into 2022.
  • The budget also hit the headlines in Q1, announcing the extension of the stamp duty holiday, as reported in The Daily Express by Connor Coombe-Whitlock. In the world of tech, this was big news for companies across digital payments and mortgages. The news contributed to the recovery of the UK economy as pandemic restrictions began to ease, but the latest trend we’ve seen emerge among digital payments and mortgage companies is now NFTs. While still in the very early stages, a small number of NFT mortgages have been put into place so far, and according to This is Money“if the concept took off, it would mean that anyone who could buy cryptocurrency could own a share in someone's mortgage.”

Q2 

  • In April, The Guardian’s technology editor, Alex Hern, reported delays to a planned update to the NHS Covid-19 app over privacy concerns from Apple and Google. The update was set to track interactions between users with their Bluetooth signals and venue “check-ins”, automatically uploading an individual’s venue history if they test positive, which sparked privacy concerns related to data-sharing.
  • The news of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack linked to the DarkSide group hit the global news agenda in May. Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest pipeline operators in the United States, was forced to close down operations and freeze IT systems, wreaking havoc across global fuel supplies. It was later revealed that the company paid $4.4m ransom to the hackers. As the year progressed, we saw further high profile attacks on critical infrastructure, such as the Kaseya attack, and the impact of these attacks affected organisations worldwide. Enterprises should therefore be taking note of how to best protect their services and systems as we move into 2022, to avoid any potential threats from cyber-attacks.

Q3 

  • The Summer of Sport came into full swing in July with events including the Euros 2020, Wimbledon and the Tour de France all hitting screens worldwide. However, not all spectators had a smooth experience – the Metro reported that during the England vs. Denmark semifinal, those watching the match via ITV on Apple TV  experienced technical difficulties throughout as the stream continued to crash, leaving many feeling frustrated. With restrictions on live events still set to impact the sports industry next year, technology providers must continue to ensure they have the optimal infrastructure in place to provide the spectators with reliable connectivity and access to these historic sporting events moving forwards.   
  • COP26 dominated headlines in the run up to the global climate summit. Speculation focused on whether discussions would fulfil the aims of the Paris agreement, as reported by The Guardian, to pledges being made by enterprises in line with the goals of the event. The topic of climate change and sustainability will remain at the top of business agendas in 2022, and it’ll be crucial to keep an eye on further developments in the aftermath of the event itself and see whether goals and pledges do in fact become a reality.   

Q4 

  • As we transitioned into the colder months, the UK experienced an energy crisis – the impact of which is set to continue into 2022. The BBC reported on ‘inevitable’ household electricity price rises, due to a spike in wholesale gas prices – rising 250% since the start of 2021. These rising prices led to multiple smaller firms going bust,  including Goto Energy and Pure Planet. As we move into the new year, many wonder if we should we be focusing more on how we source our energy as a country. Is it time to step away from our reliance on gas and place more emphasis on greener solutions, especially in line with COP26?   
  • It’s not only energy firms that faced the pressure last month – Bloomberg revealed that Apple was likely having to slash iPhone 13 production targets for 2021 by up to 10 million units, as a result of the prolonged chip shortages. Across the globe, electronic supply chains have ground to a halt recently as manufacturers struggle to deliver chips and demand continues to outpace supply. As one of the world’s largest chip buyers, it’s not surprising that Apple is taking a major hit. It’s now more important than ever for enterprises to look into supply chain efficiencies and deploy emerging technology solutions to help automate and optimise operations.   

And that’s a wrap for 2021! From the entire Hotwire team, we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday period.