The 10 Greatest Canadian Tech Stories of 2011

It’s a brand new year—the perfect time for a brief reflection of the one that just ended. We combed through the thousands of articles written by dozens of writers on Techvibes throughout 2011 to find the greatest stories told. From the most-viewed to the most-shared to the most-commented, this list encapsulates the year’s most fascinating, inspiring, and polarizing content.


1. What’s in a Text Message?

Readers responded by the truckload when Associate Editor Knowlton Thomas published a detailed piece on telcos severely overcharging consumers for text messaging. While the news wasn’t breaking, the crunched numbers infuriated much of the public—while some actually took the side of the telcos, arguing in their favour. It was one of our most-commented pieces of the year, one of the most-viewed, and the most-shared article ever published on Techvibes, with more than 1,000 Twitter tweets and nearly 800 Facebook likes. This article was later followed up with a look at mobile data overcharging.

2. Rogers is Officially the World’s Worst Internet Throttler

It’s well known that Canadians are generally not that satisfied with the service they get, and the prices they pay, for their Internet and related services. Alas, Rogers suffered some tremendously negative PR when researchers exposed the company as being the worst Internet throttler in the entire world. Consumers lashed out at the company, who did little to corral the firestorm.

3. The Great Usage-Based Billing Fiasco

It started in 2010, when independent Internet service providers argued that the CRTC was killing competition, the public reacted in force. Intern reporter Liam Britten’s piece highlighting Open Media’s petition growth was one of our most highly shared articles of 2011. The story continued long after, with Stephen Harper reviewing the CRTC’s decision, then turning the tables on the CRTC. As Knowlton noted in February, the UBB fiasco was just a single component of a shaky telecom industry

4. Canada is a Startup Paradise

Ernst & Young released a report titled Entrepreneurs Speak out: A Call to Action for G20 Governments in November that contained one particularly interesting sentence. The report affirmed that our country’s high standard of entrepreneurial culture is transforming it into a “startup paradise.” Readers had a lot to say about the notion, mostly on Twitter. The polarizing statement had critics denouncing the suggestion while others nodded their heads vigorously in agreement.

5. Zite Acquired by CNN

Techvibes Editor-in-Chief Rob Lewis correctly predicted that CNN would acquire Zite a full week ahead of the news becoming official, even pegging the right price. Following the news, fans made public their worry that the app would vanish; CEO Mark Johnson eased their fears. Zite, a Vancouver-born iPad app similar to Flipboard, earlier in the year faced serious controversy

6. Canada’s Videogame Industry

An infographic titled “The Videogame Industry in Canada” exploded on social media as gaming industry cheerleaders basked in the glory of fabulous facts—like how Canada’s industry is the third biggest in the world, and how growth is expected to reach a clip of 17% through 2013. Some didn’t believe the numbers, even though they were sourced directly from an Entertainment Software Association of Canada report, but most simply expressed pride for our country’s amazing videogame space.

7. Why BlackBerry Will Make a Comeback

New contributor Rolando Fuentes made a big splash with an article defending RIM and suggesting the company can still turn things around—a stance taken by very few these days. After all, bad news was abound: RIM has to slash the price of its PlayBook by 60% to move units, triggering a $500-million loss, and consumers were naming the company as one of the most likely to die by 2015. Rolando’s essay convinced some but offended others, who were deep-rooted in their belief that the Waterloo-based BlackBerry maker is on a death spiral.

8. Brett Wilson Leaves Dragons’ Den. 

Liam Britten’s article reporting that Brett Wilson was leaving Dragons’ Den resonated with readers. Brett seemed a favourite of many Den watchers. Later in the year, Brett commented on an article Knowlton Thomas wrote suggesting that the Dragons don’t follow through with their televised commitments to invest.

9. Canada in the Slow Lane on the Information Superhighway

Even though Canadians are some of the most dedicated Internet users in the world, our Internet is surprisingly slow relative to the rest of the globe. Radio and television personality Steve Dotto confirmed this when he reported on a Pando Networks study. The results of the research disappointed readers, who wanted Canada’s Internet providers to step their game up.

10. Google Offers Free Websites for Canadian Small Businesses

Marketing strategist and Techvibes columnist Andrea Wahbe attended a Toronto event in March hosted by Google Canada where Kevin O’Leary of Dragons’ Den fame stated that “small business owners are the rock stars of our economy.” On this note, Google Canada revealed that it would offer small Canadian businesses free websites and free .ca domains as part of an initiative to encourage companies to build an online presence. Readers loved the idea.


1. The First Annual Canadian Startup Awards

Launched in December, the Canadian Startup Awards are a history-making project aimed at recognizing and honouring Canada’s technology, entrepreneur, and investor talent. We received well over 1,000 nominations during our two-week Nominations Round and expect thousands of votes in our Finals Round. 

2. The 2011 Techvibes Acquisitions Tracker

We’ve been covering startups and their exits since 2007 but up until this year, we had not attempted to track the headlines in a single depository. So we created the Tech Acquisitions Tracker, which lists startup exits—including their city and any disclosed financial terms, plus a link to the original article. We also break down the data by the hottest regions, the busiest months, and the top acquirers. This Tracker will be expanded for 2012.

3. Mark Zuckerberg is in Vancouver

When Mark Zuckerberg mysteriously popped up in Vancouver, locals were instantly interested. Everyone wanted to know why Silicon Valley’s worst-dressed man was in town. Rob Lewis offered five potential reasons, although the true purpose behind his trip was never officially confirmed. However, we do know for sure that he bought a Japadog.