2016 has been a happening year in every sense of the word! From technology shaping the way businesses interact with consumers globally, to digital penetration facilitating a surge of start-up culture locally, every aspect of the niches we cover for our audience has seen an evolution.
In order to give an indepth run-down of the way 2016 has shaped technology, business and start-up sector, we’ve decided to do a special edition of our regular feature: Weekly Tech Trends Review. The Special Edition Tech Trends Review 2016 is going to be a three parts series where we shall share with you our best trends pick from the national and international tech and business frontiers.
Part I of the series shall give an overview of the trends prevalent in the industry in 2016, and cover the happenings from January – April, 2016. Part II of the series will cover the period from May – August, 2016 and Part III covering the period from September – December, 2016 will reflect upon the trends to look out for in 2017.
We’ve ensured to make Special Edition Tech Trends Review 2016 a thorough catalog of major developments through the year with unique significance of its relation with the local industry. This is going to be a one of its kind of a comprehensive year review, especially if you’re someone with interest in the start-up and technology sector. Grab a coffee and settle down, because this is going to be a long read.
Getting to the meat, the major trends dominating the year have been:
- A surge of co-working spaces
- Venture capitals, start-up incubators & idea accelerators gaining momentum
- Budding start-up culture globally, especially in rising economies
- Live video streaming
- Customized curation of content for individual users
- Buy button – the marriage of social and e-commerce, flourishing
- Businesses becoming more and more social dependent (see Messenger For Business)
- Personalized algorithm of apps
- Broader app functionalities (Not to forget, our homegrown Patari went for an offline feature even before YouTube. Yeehaw!)
- Mobile optimization by businesses to address device mesh by users
- Story-telling and echo-chamber in social media platforms
- Adoption of augmented and virtual reality
- Automation of human tasks (Again, our homegrown Aitomation made waves)
- Conversational interfaces
- Alternate energy resources, with a growing focus on solar and wind
- Autopilot cars
- Gene-editing and DNA modification
- PTCL internet breakdowns
Snail:No I’m Slow
Tortoise:I’m Slowest#PTCL :Rishte Main To Hum tumhaare Baap Lagte Hain
— Ahsan (@AhsanNadeem_) December 26, 2016
Year in Technology, Business & Start-up News
Zameen.com Closed Investment Round
Zameen.com, Pakistan’s biggest property portal, closed its Series C funding round with a $20 million investment from a fund which focuses on frontier and emerging markets with over US$ 1 billion in assets under management.
The funding came after a fresh $9 million investment, bringing the total funds raised by Zameen.com in the 6 months from August ’15 to January ’16, to $29 million.
Sukoon Closed Seed Investment Round
Founded in May 2015, the Karachi-based home repair and service solutions provider and the highest valued startup at The Nest I/O, became the first to secure inaugural seed investments led by Crescent Ventures as the lead investor and was followed by the Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) Islamabad Chapter and DotZero Ventures. The exact amount of the investment was not made public.
Patari Won The Startup Cup 2015
Winning the StartUp Cup 2015, Patari the home-grown replacement of – and exceedingly better than – the music streaming apps Spotify, Soundcloud and Saavn, began the year on a high note.
Patari, the largest content library of Pakistani music collated in one place, bagged first position along with a cash prize of PKR 1 million at the competition co-hosted by the US Embassy in Islamabad and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Islamabad Chapter.
Travly Launched Rickshaw Training for Female Drivers
Travly, the start-up aiming to become a one stop shop for all travel needs by providing it’s users with multiple travel options, launched a 6-8 weeks Tuk Tuk Rani program that aims to cause social disruption & promote women empowerment. The program kicked off with 20 female learner drivers on board.
Aman Foundation Launched Health Startups Accelerator
AmanClinics Accelerator, primarily a business plan competition has been launched by Aman Foundation as a new startup acceleration program to focus on healthcare startups in Pakistan.
The accelerator announced a prize money for the top three health start-up teams: PKR 500,000, 200,000 and 100,000 respectively. A stout $200,000 in seed funding has been set for a Management Team of choice by the Aman Foundation (comprising of winning team members and/or other team members). The Management team will also be offered a contractual employment and sweat-equity shares.
TECH & BUSINESS STORIES
NED UET Launched 3D Printing Lab
The NED University of Engineering and Technology (NED UET) in Karachi inaugurated its first 3D printing lab called “MakerStudio”, benefits of which will be made available for external users too, besides university research fellows. The university management said that MakerStudio will encourage students, faculty members and 3D printing enthusiasts to use its facility for course work or other informal activities. Printers used in MakerStudio are locally assembled.
Netflix Launched in Pakistan
World-renowned online video streaming service Netflix has launched services in Pakistan, giving movie buffs and TV drama enthusiasts access to a host of award-winning content in HDR format.
Dawn covered the launch here.
Germany Launched App To Integrate Refugees
German authorities launched an Android app called Ankommen (Arrive), which includes a basic German language course, asylum application guidelines, job / vocational course seeking modules. Available in 5 languages (Arabic, English, French, Farsi and German), the app developed through collaboration between the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, Federal Employment Agency, Goethe Institute and Bayerischer Rundfunk.
AI Startup Emotient Purchased by Apple
Apple purchased Emotient Inc, a California-based startup which uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to assess people’s emotions by analyzing their facial expressions. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, an Apple spokeswoman confirmed the news without sharing further details. Emotient CEO Ken Denman declined to comment.
SOCIAL MEDIA STORIES
Periscope Went Live on Twitter
Periscope launched live broadcast on Twitter on January 12. With the new development, users no longer need the Periscope app or a Periscope account to view content. Any broadcast shared on Twitter auto-plays right within the Tweet henceforth making it easier for Twitter users to see both live broadcasts and replays, directly in Tweets.
Twitter Introduced Conversational Ads
Twitter introduced conversational ads in early January. The new ads, intended to drive consumer engagement, allow companies to include call to action buttons and customizable hashtags.
Facebook Launched Messenger Bots
In January, Facebook gave some developers access to an unannounced Chat SDK that allowed them to build “bots” in Messenger. The Chat SDK is meant to allow developers to create bots that users can send text messages to directly and that automatically respond with information, images, location services, product prices, Buy buttons, and more. This can also tap into Messenger built-in payments system to let users make purchases via bots.
TechCrunch covered the development in detail.
Whatsapp Announced Doing Away With Subscription Fee
On January 18, WhatsApp announced to be doing away with subscription fees. The announcement also explained that changing the monetization model did not mean that they’re introducing third-party ads. However, the users who had already paid their 99 cent subscription for the year will not be getting that fee back.
Baby Planet Raised Seed Funding
A Pakistani e-commerce startup Baby Planet, focused on delivering childcare and maternity products, announced raising a 6-digit figure (in USD) seed funding.
The start-up’s profile and other details can be found here.
Telenor Launched Accelerator ‘Velocity’
Pakistani telecom operator Telenor launched its very own accelerator for Pakistani startups, by the name of Telenor Velocity. The launch event was accompanied by startup pitches from 8 entrepreneurs. More of the Velocity’s profile details can be found at Telenor’s site here.
First Batch of Founder Institute Graduated
Rated among the world’s most coveted startup launch program, first semester of The Founder Institute Islamabad came to an end with the graduation of 11 startups led by 13 entrepreneurs.
Details can be found here.
Entrepreneur Usman Riaz Teamed Up With Apple
Usman Riaz, a multi-talented digital artist has been acknowledged by the tech giant Apple and got the platform to present a live demo of his art works in front of a global audience. The young Ted Global Fellow launched Mano Animation Studios in 2015, where he and his team of young, talented artists have been working on a mammoth project of a hand-drawn animation film called “The Glassworker“.
To complete this first hand-drawn animation film from Pakistan, Usman announced a KickStarter campaign in February with a goal of $50,000 to fund the production of The Glassworker.
PakWired Updated its List of Incubators & Accelerators in Pakistan
Pursuing entrepreneurship in Pakistan isn’t easy. To facilitate start-ups and young entrepreneurs, PakWired has always been keen to build a resource pool to play a part in the development of a healthy start-up ecosystem. Creating an up-to-date list of Pakistani tech incubators, start-up accelerators and venture capitals for the readers at PakWired, has been part of this philosophy. An earlier repository of Incubators got updated in this version.
Click here to read it.
TECH & BUSINESS STORIES
Telenor’s Easypay Brought Global Online Payment Facility to Pakistanis
Telenor facilitated Easypay’s comprehensive online payment solution offering MasterCard Payment Gateway Services in collaboration with the Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB). This is the third significant payment solution offered by Telenor; Easypaisa Mobile Accounts and token payments at Easypaisa Shops are the other two modes.
Telecom Policy 2016
With taxes, and without the grant of an industry status, the new Telecom Policy 2016 was received by Pakistan’s telecom sector with a luke warm response at best.
Here’s an analysis of the report.
Rozee.pk Rebranded, Relaunched
Monis Rehman’s online recruitment platform, the largest in Pakistan, Rozee.Pk’s new brand position emphasized its role in catalyzing growth for both professionals and businesses.
LGS Won Asian Award in Space Settlement Design
At the third annual Asian Regional Space Settlement Design Competition, or ARSSDC, a prestigious international competition taking place in India, the Lahore Grammar School (Johar Town) won the big trophy.
Mobile World Conference 2016 (Feb 22 -25)
With mesh up of devices one of the key trends dominating user behavior in 2016, the Mobile World Congress 2016 stood true to its slogan ‘Mobile is Everything’. The key take-aways from the conference can make for a marketer’s bible, and have been comprehensively covered here.
Lamudi Cashes in $31.4 Million
Lamudi, an online real estate classified website focusing exclusively on the emerging markets, locked in a fresh investment of $31.4 million USD.
Google Nearing Complete Translation Of Internet
Google announced that Google Translate is just close to translating all sorts of content on the Internet in a whopping 103 languages i.e. 99% of the total online population. The company recently unveiled translation support for 13 languages including Sindhi and Pashto.
SOCIAL MEDIA STORIES
HBL PSL Dominated Social Media
The Pakistan Super League played in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, became a rage in the cricket starved nation. Facebook and Twitter remained the main battle grounds, however, due to Twitter’s fast pace, the platform burned hot with passionate tweets and city banters. Team PakWired did a remarkable job of compiling a list of these twitter ‘moments’ to share with its readers.
YouTube Went From Being Banned to Streaming PSL Live!
What a way to celebrate being unbanned in Pakistan! YouTube, banned in Pakistan since 2012, had only recently been unblocked. Going from being banned to hosting Pakistan’s premier sporting event is a big deal to say the least!
Twitter Launched Animated Gifs
A number of Twitter users noticed the presence of a new button sandwiched between the options for posting photos and creating polls. The development comes after rivals like Facebook and Yahoo upgraded their own apps to include support for animated GIFs by partnering with third-party hosts such as Giphy and Tumblr.
Facebook Introduced Canvas – Full Screen Mobile Ads
Facebook introduced Canvas, a new post-click, full-screen, immersive mobile ad experience on Facebook that loads nearly instantaneously.
Instagram Launched User Stats
Instagram users can now finally view statistics of exactly how many times their videos were watched. The new YouTube-like feature is being slowly phased in for all Insta users. The latest development is seen as a helpful tool for people who’d like to understand how many people take an interest in their videos. Like Facebook, Instagram considers at least 3 seconds of auto-play as a “view”.
Instagram Allowed Switching Between Multiple User Accounts
Instagram finally added support for multiple accounts. Users can now quickly and easily switch between multiple accounts without the cumbersome process of logging in and out.
PerkUp Raised Seed Investment
PerkUp, Karachi-based start-up providing customer loyalty and engagement services to other business and consumers raised a stout seed funding of Rs 1.5 Crore from local venture capitals.
Details of the public investment in the start-up can be followed here.
Wadi, An E-Commerce Start-up Raised Funding
Wadi.com, an e-commerce venture based in the Middle-East and co-founded by a LUMS alumni, Kanwal Sarfraz raised $67 million in its first investment round in February 2016.
PakWired profiled Wadi and the investment details here.
Mobilink’s Head of Digital Left To Focus At Technology Accelerator Serendipity
Ehtisham Rao widely regarded as a telecom expert, both in Pakistan and abroad, resigned to focus at the tech accelerator Serendipity he is a co-founding partner at. The accelerator, that took its first batch in January 2016, aims to help start-ups in business and technology integration, innovation in business model, valuation and funding, and networking opportunities.
LaunchPad7 Launched Rawalpindi’s First Hub
LaunchPad7 – a Jumpstart Pakistan initiative – launched its own, and the first in Rawalpindi, hub and co-working space with a cozy yet fully equipped work-space. The incubator got a detailed coverage here.
A Karachi based start-up incubated at The Nest I/O has launched Wukla – Pakistan’s first website for online legal solutions and documents delivery, combining technology with law. Co-founded by two lawyers, Altaf Qureshi and Sohaib Saleem, Wukla has kick stared with two services: Ask a Wakil and Create Agreements. The portal offers legal advice by connecting users to lawyers and also delivers legal documents on cash-on-delivery.
Haptika Launched First VR Product
Haptika a Karachi based start-up incubated at The Nest I/O is developing wearable gadgets through which a person can feel the objects in a VR environment and perceive their temperature. In March, Haptika launched its first product.
The annual SOFTEC event, an IT extravaganza put forth by the students, has become a regular feature at FAST-NU, growing each year.
This year’s SOFTEC has been covered here.
Taking place on March 25, 2016, the Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa IT Board’s amazing initiative KPApps has been designed to promote young techies, entrepreneurs and designers that are primarily from Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa.
The event’s launch got featured here.
PlanX Demo Day
PlanX organized bi-annual Startup Demo Day on 24th March 2016. The aim of the event was to gather the most interesting entrepreneurs, startups, investors and mentors to celebrate the local tech ecosystem of Pakistan.
i2i Released Impact Report 2016
i2i, short for Invest2Innovate, released a comprehensive impact report covering a period from 2012 to 2016 to highlight what it has been doing and what success has it achieved alongside. The start-up accelerator has been supporting early-stage startups since 2011 and its four-month accelerator program for young entrepreneurs has been making the news ever since its inception.
TECH & BUSINESS STORIES
Careem Acquired Savaree
Pakistan’s home-grown ride sharing service Savaree, founded by Madeeha Hassan in 2014, got acquired by Careem. The acquisition took place against an undisclosed amount of money. Madeeha Hassan joined Careem’s global product team as the Product Lead for Pakistan.
Uber Launched in Pakistan
Uber made its much anticipated launch in Pakistan in March this year, starting its operations from Lahore. The ride hailing service since then has been a riot.
Cryptography Pioneers Won the Nobel Prize of Computer Science
Whitfield Diffie, the former chief security officer at Sun Microsystems, and Martin E. Hellman, a professor emeritus at Stanford University received the $1 million cash prize that goes with the A.M. Turing Award, which is bestowed by the Association for Computing Machinery. The pioneers of the most widely-used encryption scheme on the Internet were honored with the most prestigious award in computer science.
Virtual Reality Adopted by Porn Industry
Virtual reality is the next phase in the constantly metamorphosing world of technology. One of the largest porn websites, Pornhub announced a new section that integrates virtual-reality tech into the adult entertainment experience.
The website that boasts more than 60 million visitors a day, teamed up with BaDoinkVR, a Barcelona-based company that specializes in adult virtual reality entertainment, to offer users premium videos that can be viewed with virtual-reality headsets like the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard.
Boeing Launched Autonomous Robotic Sub For Deep Sea Exploration
Boeing’s latest unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV), Echo Voyager, is designed to explore the deep sea, and to share the collected data in near-real-time environment. The vehicle’s new hybrid rechargeable propulsion power system allows it to operate for months autonomously underwater without needing to stop for fuel.
The 51-foot-long (15.5 meters) massive robotic sub can also be launched and recovered without help from support ships, according to Boeing.
Instagram Launched 60s videos
On March 29, Instagram announced rolling out the ability to post 60 second videos. Instagram’s announcement explained the update as in response to the growing trend of people investing time in video more than stills.
JumpStart Initiated Shepherd Pie
In April, JumStart Pakistan announced its Shepherd’s Pie season in Islamabad. The idea competition is meant to bring together renowned entrepreneurs, CEOs and investors to invest in the different business ideas exhibited. The competition came with an opportunity to win a one-year Incubation at LaunchPad7 and seven winners of the final event to get equity-based seed funding worth PKR 750,000.
Pakistan Startup Expo 2016
Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) in a joint collaboration with Startup Magazine, organized the Startup Expo 2016 to promote and celebrate an entrepreneurial ecosystem for all upcoming startups. The two day event, on the 15th and 16th of April 2016 at the Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad, was hailed to bring forward brilliant, young, entrepreneurial minds to market their ventures. Startup Expo 2016 has been second in the series of annual events.
TECH & BUSINESS STORIES
Cyber Crime Bill
Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the infamous Cyber Crime Bill, with a simple majority. A total of only 30 members, 9% of the National Assembly strength, were present in the 342-member house. More than 90% of the legislators were absent at the time when the bill about to affect lives of 200 million Pakistanis was being rushed into approval.
The bill, later turned into a law after being approved by the Senate as well, its background and all its controversial clauses were discussed in detail here.
Panama Papers – World’s Biggest Data Leak
The leak of more than 11.5 million documents from a law firm in Panama specializing in creating off-shore tax havens for wealthy clients around the world has been translated an unprecedented event — the largest leak in history.
Over 100 news outlets globally published material based on Panama Papers. According to Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, the 2.6 terabytes of Panama Papers data are made up of more than 320,166 text documents, 1.1 million images, 2.15 million PDF files, 3 million database excerpts and 4.8 million emails.
Just to comprehend how much information 2.6TB is, here’s a rough comparison to put that figure into context:
It would take just 252 days of 24-hour uptime to download the entire 2.6 terabytes of data from a fast server over a 1 Mbps connection. It would take more than 16 months over a typical home connection at around half that speed.
Ikea Launched a Virtual Reality App to Revamp Your Kitchen
Furniture-retail giant Ikea has unveiled a virtual reality experience allowing users to experiment with different kitchen setting. The Ikea VR Experience is a pilot program launched on the game platform Steam, which other than facilitating users will help Ikea evaluate how the technology can be used to better serve the retailer’s customers.
SOCIAL MEDIA STORIES
Twitter Introduced Message Button with Tweets
On April 5, Twitter introduced a Message button on Tweets. The new provision makes is easy for users to share a Tweet via Direct Message or respond to a tweet privately. The new feature allowed sharing unique Twitter content from the users’ timeline right into users’ private conversation.
Details at Twitter blog.
Facebook Launched Instant Articles
Facebook opened up Instant Articles to all publishers from April 12. Instant Articles, which provide an improved article-viewing experience to Facebook mobile users, were being anticipated since their initial tests in 2015. This development came as an understanding of 2016’s mobile customization and device mesh trends we mentioned in the beginning.
With this we come to the end of Part I of Special Edition Tech Trends Review 2016. For Part II and Part III keep watching this place in the next few day. We won’t be long!
Meanwhile, we look forward to your feedback, opinions and suggestions. Send them our way. Cheers.