14 incredible tech products that didn't exist 10 years ago


steve jobs ipad

  • The tech world has changed significantly in the last decade. 
  • Back in 2009, the iPad hadn’t come out yet, Lyft didn’t exist, and the Amazon Echo hadn’t been unveiled. 
  • Here are 14 major innovations that didn’t exist 10 years ago. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The world was a very different place 10 years ago. 

A decade ago, you couldn’t order a Lyft on your phone, you couldn’t scroll through Instagram, and you couldn’t watch movies or answer email on an iPad.

Several incredible products and services have been invented in the last 10 years — some, in the last five or eight. Thanks to a tweet from Button cofounder Chris Maddern, we were inspired to look into some of the cool, convenient things the tech world has invented since 2009. 

1. The iPad

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad nearly 10 years ago, he described it as “the best browsing experience you’ll ever have.” 

“It’s unbelievably great. Way better than a laptop, way better than a smartphone,” Jobs said on stage in January 2010. 

The original iPad cost between $499 and $829. Since then, the device has gone through several iterations and several price points — in 2019 alone, Apple unveiled a new 10.2-inch iPad, iPad Mini, and the iPad Air.

2. Snapchat

Snapchat debuted in the App Store in the summer of 2011 as a messaging app for sending disappearing photos. At the time, it was called Pictaboo, but it had the same now-famous ghost icon, Ghostface Chillah.

By September 2011, the name had changed to Snapchat and the app began to catch on with teens.

Six years later, Snapchat is owned by a $22 billion public company, Snap Inc., and has expanded into TV-like shows, partnerships with publishers, hardware products, and augmented reality. 

3. Oculus

Oculus VR began in a garage in Irvine, California, in June 2012. Then-19-year-old Palmer Luckey launched the company on Kickstarter, raising nearly $2.5 million for his virtual reality headset. After raising an additional $16 million in funding, Luckey sold Oculus to Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. 

Now, Luckey has left Oculus, but the VR company lives on at Facebook. Oculus currently offers three headsets: the Rift S, Quest, and Go. 

4. Stripe

Stripe, a startup aimed at disrupting online payments, officially launched in September 2011. Now, companies from Target to the NFL use Stripe’s technology to power payments in their websites and apps. 

Eight years after launch, Stripe is worth about $35 billion.

5. Instagram

Instagram launched in October 2010, and 25,000 people signed up on the first day. By 2011, Instagram was Apple’s iPhone app of the year, and by April 2012, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shelled out $1 billion to buy the company. 

Instagram now has over a billion active users and has branched into live video, stories, and face filters, and has added a long-form video service called IGTV. 

6. Lyft

Lyft launched in 2012 as a ride-sharing app. The idea morphed out of Zimride, a company founded by John Zimmer and Logan Green that offered carpooling for long-distance rides and campus car-sharing programs. 

Fast forward to 2019 and Lyft is now a $13 billion company that’s dabbling in electric scooters, bike share, and self-driving car technology. The 7-year-old startup went public earlier this year. 

7. Pinterest

Pinterest, a search and discovery app and virtual “pinboard,” was founded in March 2010.

Today, the app has over 300 million monthly active users and has moved on from basic searching and pinning: Pinterest is experimenting with shopping, machine learning and vision, and camera search both in the app and around the web. 

Pinterest went public in 2019 and is currently a $10 billion company. 

8. Square

Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey launched Square in October 2010 after a friend of his couldn’t make a sale because he couldn’t process American Express cards. 

Square was conceived as a mobile-payments service that could process credit cards with an app and a reader that plugged into smartphones.

These days, Square offers additional hardware products like a terminal, register, and contactless payments reader and is a $27.5 billion public company.

9. 4G

4G networks may seem like a given these days, but they’ve been around for less than a decade. The networks promised to make the mobile internet much faster and much better and were an upgrade to the 3G wireless network. 

Sprint’s HTC Evo was the first 4G phone by several months — it came out in March 2010, followed by a Samsung model in June of that year. Verizon didn’t launch 4G until December 2010, and 4G didn’t come to the iPhone until the iPhone 5 in 2012. 

In 2019, carriers are expanding their 5G networks, and device makers are building 5G-compatible smartphones. 

10. Slack

Founder Stewart Butterfield started working on work-chat app Slack in 2012. The first iteration of the app was a web-based massively multiplayer game, but it didn’t quite work out. Fast-forward to 2013 and the Slack team knew they had a product on their hands that other companies would actually use. 

“We begged and cajoled our friends at other companies to try it out and give us feedback,” Butterfield said in an interview with venture capital firm First Round Capital. 

Most recently, Slack went public in a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

11. AirPods

Apple’s AirPods wireless earbuds are so ubiquitous now, it’s hard to believe they’ve only been around for three years. 

The buds were unveiled alongside the iPhone 7 in September 2016. The iPhone 7 was Apple’s first iPhone without a headphone jack, and AirPods were intended to be a companion for the new phone. 

Now, Apple sells two versions of AirPods — AirPods and AirPods Pro — and the earbuds have become a major boon to Apple’s business: Analysts predict AirPods could become the company’s third-largest product by 2021. 

12. Amazon Echo

Amazon introduced its Echo device in 2014, a home speaker with a virtual assistant, Alexa, built in. The initial pitch of the Echo was a way to control your music using just your voice. 

In 2019, the Echo can do a lot more than play music: The device can act as a smart home hub and a way to shop on Amazon, as well as the brains behind an entire household’s operations. Alexa can supply your calendar, add items to your shopping list, answer random queries, and more. 

Plus, Amazon has since introduced an entire lineup of Echo devices, like the Show with a built-in screen, the Studio for high-end audio, and the Dot for making your home “smart” in every room. 

13. The Apple Watch

Apple revealed the first Apple Watch at its September keynote in 2014, but the watch didn’t officially go on sale until April 2015. 

The watch was significant for Apple because it was the company’s first brand-new piece of hardware since Apple cofounder Steve Jobs died in 2011. But it also sparked the growth of the wearables industry, a category Apple now dominates — the Apple Watch reportedly owns nearly 50% of the market share in 2019. 

Since the Apple Watch’s lauch, Apple has introduced several more versions, the latest being the Apple Watch Series 5 released in September.

14. Microsoft Surface

In June 2012, Microsoft launched a new foray into PCs with the Microsoft Surface, a tablet-laptop hybrid that then-CEO Steve Ballmer described as “a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft.”

Now, Microsoft has vastly expanded its Surface lineup, offering several iterations of the device like the Surface Go, a smaller, lighter tablet; the Surface Studio, a pro-level desktop PC; and the Surface Book, a touchscreen laptop.