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Our 2016 Digital Wrap-up: The Highs, the Lows, and Everything in Between

There’s no denying that 2016 has been a big year in the wide world of digital technology. Milestones have been made; disasters unravelled; revelations born and controversies created. In a nostalgic ode to the past 12 months, we’re reflecting on the year that was 2016.

Apple unveiled wireless earphones (and another new phone). In September, our favourite tech giant unleashed its latest iPhone to hordes of crazed fans. Boasting a powerful new processor chip, a pressure-sensitive panel, and water-resistant casing, the latest artefact had all the goods – with one controversial difference. Apple had relinquished its famous headphone jack, introducing high-tech wireless earphones instead. The move sparked a vicious divide in opinion: an unnecessary change, or an industry-leading advancement?

The election of a new US President smashed social media records. 2016 was the year of perhaps the most controversial presidential election in American history, with Donald Trump successfully being appointed to head the country. The news shocked the world – some rejoiced, many mourned, and nearly everyone poured out their emotions across social media channels. In fact, Trump’s win saw more than 716 million likes, posts, comments and shares on Facebook, successfully breaking the platform’s record numbers to date.


The Queensland Government acknowledged the importance of digital marketing. Reeling things back onto home soil, the QLD Government announced some pretty big news last month: they decided to offer small businesses up to $10,000 of funding for digital marketing. The decision reflects the importance of establishing an online presence today, particularly for smaller companies attempting to leverage their competition.

Google turned 18. Our beloved search engine made the transition into ‘adulthood’ this year, celebrating its 18th birthday on September 27. In true celebratory style, we looked back on all Google has accomplished within its short but prolific existence.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics tried to go digital, and failed miserably. In a PR nightmare, the ABS introduced online forms for their annual census – only for the site to crash, leaving around 16 million Aussies unable to complete the survey. Having failed to take the right measures in terms of website hosting, the ABS had to sheepishly backtrack and send out hard copies of the census to all Australian households with a brand new submission date. Awkward.

The internet pounced upon one of the most iconic Olympics photos ever snapped. There’s no denying that the Olympics has been a global-stopping event since the first international Games in 1896. However, in a digitally saturated 2016, winners and results are announced instantaneously – and Usain Bolt’s famous 200-metre sprint was no different. As soon as that incredible image emerged of the Jamaican runner sprinting far ahead of his competitors, coolly glancing behind him with a cheeky grin on his face, it created a whirlwind of buzz across the internet and quickly became one of the most talked-about moments of the 2016 Games.


Google introduced some massive changes to its Penguin algorithm. We’ve been waiting for two long years, but Google finally announced its newest algorithm update in September this year. The most significant changes include a shift to a real-time, page-specific nature, thereby potentially affecting the way certain pages currently rank and penalising those that don’t conform to Google’s standards.

Yahoo revealed that it had been hacked – twice. In a painful admission, search engine giant Yahoo was forced to announce to its users that it had experienced two of the biggest data swipes in history – one in 2014, where 500 million accounts were hacked, and another in 2013, wherein a whopping one billion users were affected. The two separate breaches saw various data stolen, including names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and encrypted or uncrypted security questions and answers. Oops.

Augmented reality gripped digital users in the form of Pokémon Go. Who could forget that good month or two where you couldn’t get from A to B without stumbling across crowds of people wielding their smartphones, furiously intent on ‘capturing’ virtual creatures in their real surroundings. Yes, the 2016 release of augmented reality gaming app Pokémon Go rapidly soared to success – yet just as quickly vanished from the scene (and our screens) once the craze wore old.


Mobile traffic soared – and will continue to do so. 2016 reports confirmed what we already know – people lurrrrrve their mobile phones. As such, we are quickly becoming far more inclined to conduct internet searches and online purchases via our handheld devices rather than on clunky old desktop and laptop computers. Ever the astute observer, Google has taken this on board and introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages to reward those websites that are mobile-friendly and therefore, user-friendly.

And there you have it – our year in review. The past 12 months have certainly had their fair share of ups and downs, shocks and surprises, but we’re ready to embrace the new year and see what 2017 has in store for an industry that is continually evolving. Bring it on.

By Trish O'Loughlin

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