2010 – 2020 : A Decade of CHANGE that whizzed by

A decade is a long period of time. How was the world in 2010? Many of us may have forgotten how rapidly the world has changed in the last ten years. Let’s take a look at some of the key changes and see if we are better off or worse.

Smart Phone & the App Revolution 

Remember the company called Nokia. In 2009 Nokia was the market leaders with a 46% Market Share. Smart Phones were just beginning to make an appearance – of the 1.6 B Phones sold globally in 2009 only 297M were Smart Phones. China alone sells more smart phones today and the feature phone is almost non existent.

The Smart Phone explosion carried in its wave the APP revolution. probably the biggest revolution of the decade. The history of the APP probably dates back to 1994 when the 1st Smart Phone IBM’s Simon was launched with inbuilt apps like address book, calculator, calendar etc. But the APP story really took off after Steve Jobs launched the App Store in July 2008, a year after the launch of the iPhone.  In 2010 the Tech Slang “APP” was voted the ” Word Of the Year” by the American Dialect society.

This was followed by the launch of Google Play in 2012. Today App’s like Game of war , Tinder, Candy Crush … generate monthly revenues that would put hedge funds to shame. The Free lance industry opened up the doors for App Millionaires working from home. WhatsApp was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, former employees of Yahoo.  At one point, they applied for jobs at Facebook but were rejected.When Facebook announced its plans to acquire WhatsApp in February 2014, WhatsApp’s founders attached a purchase price of $16 billion. This price tag is dwarfed by the actual price Facebook paid: $21.8 billion, or $55 per user.

Looking back at our daily life many of the Apps we take for granted today did not exist in 2010. The world  of Apps has changed the way we live.  Swiggy was launched in 2014 and PayTM in 2010 as a prepaid mobile and DTH recharge platform.  In 2010 Flipkart was still a website selling books. The world of Banking , Commerce, Communication has all changed thanks to the Smart Phone and the associated Apps.

Data Explosion 

This decade also saw the explosion of unstructured data.We no longer talk in terms of Gigabytes & Terabytes but Petabytes, Exabytes and Zetabytes.

The world today adds in a few days the equivalent of data that we added in years in the past. The visual below will give you an indication of what happens in 1 minute across the Internet. the messages/ photos/ Videos that consumers generate are taking up enormous amount of data. Hence the need for massive Data centres and super high bandwidth.

The decade also saw the emergence of a new currency called Bitcoin. As the common man tries to figure out the world of Block Chain and Bitcoin its worthy to remember that on January 3rd, 2009, in the wake of a global financial crisis that accelerated the growing chasm of inequality throughout world economies, a mysterious figure named Satoshi Nakamoto launched a virtual currency named Bitcoin. 

The Rich get Richer

In 2010, the 10 richest people in the world had total wealth of $296.8 billion as compared to $822.5 billion in the end of 2019.

For context, in 2010, global wealth totaled $200 trillion as compared to $360.6 trillion in 2019, according to an October report on global wealth from financial services company Credit Suisse.

Today, wealth inequality between the world’s richest and poorest continues to grow. According to an Oxfam report published in January, the world’s wealthiest 26 individuals had the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the population in 2018, the latest figures available. During the same period, the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by $900 billion ($2.5 billion per day), while the wealth of the poorest half of the population (3.8 billion people) fell by 11%, the Oxfam report found.

A few changes closer home to us in India

India did well in the decade that went by as our GDP grew from 1.7 Trillion to 3.2 Trillion and there is hope that we will get to 5 Trillion by 2025. While this looks impressive our neighbour China galloped ahead.

In 1987 India and China had comparable GDP’s, in 2019 China’s GDP was 4.87 Time bigger than India’s. As population growth started slowing down the per capita income of India has almost doubled. But this may be a misnomer since the top 10% income grew a lot more exponentially than that of the masses.

More Consumption 

More disposable income meant more consumption and travel. In 2010 only 51M Indian travelled by plane, that figure has almost tripled in 2019 to 150M. Indians bought less than 150,000 cars in 2010 but that figure almost doubled in 2019 – and remember 2019 was a bad year for car sales. While more cares were on the clogged city roads global crude prices came down steeply but the price of petrol for an Indian consumer was still amongst the highest in the world. Jan 2010 Petrol in New Delhi was priced at Rs 51/Litre and Dec 2019 it was priced at Rs 75.51/ Litre

Investments & Interest Rates 

Those who invested in the Sensex made handsome returns. The Sensex surged from 21000 in Nov 2010 to  an all time high of 41,000 in Dec 2019. A point to remember here inspite of the rapid fluctuations the Sensex has been growing steadily at a CAGR of 16% over the years. Its journey from 100 – 39,000 happened over 40 years.

2019 saw multiple Interest rate drops and we are probably at the lowest level of Interest rates over the decade. What this means is that a retired pensioner living on his interest income has seen the interest income swing from 9% to 6.5%. While that may look like a 2.5% interest drop your income actually reduced by more than 25% 

Low interest rates is thanks to low inflation. While most Sr citizens and investors miss the 9 – 10% interest rates on their FD’s those were also years when Inflation was 7 – 8%. The 2 % spread between Inflation and Investment rates continue to be maintained so that’s a mental benchmark that people need to come to terms with.

The Indian rupee fared badly between 2010 and 2014 going from 1 USD = 45 INR to 1 USD = 64INR. That pace has thankfully slowed down in the last 5 years, but Exporters want a steep devaluation of the Rupee and with rising Crude prices we may very well see a conversion of 80 soon and I wonder where it will be in 2020.

What about 2030

Well predicting the future is a challenge. Our generation has seen not just in the last 10 years but in the last 50 years a level of  peace and prosperity that is unparalleled in the history of the world. So let’s hope and pray that peace prevails and the good times continue.

The best news is that world population is slowing down. Population in the world is currently (2020) growing at a rate of around 1.05% per year (down from 1.08% in 2019, 1.10% in 2018, and 1.12% in 2017). The current average population increase is estimated at 81 million people per year.

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02 comments on “2010 – 2020 : A Decade of CHANGE that whizzed by

  • Praju Wish , Direct link to comment

    Dear SIr,

    As a beginner, would like to get your advise on the area that will surge in investment/business sector for next 10 years

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