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Hurricane Sandy devastates East Coast; wreaks havoc on infrastructure
The worst storm to hit the East Coast in years, Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey the hardest. Infrastructure was hit badly and many low-lying data centers were damaged by the flooding. Web sites suffered massive outages and cell networks struggled to continue transmitting. Power outages hit many for weeks. For three long days, Manhattan was practically in the Dark Ages.
It took the cell networks -- including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile -- more than a week to get cell service up and running again. The storm caused 25 percent of the country's cell masts to collapse or stop working in the affected states. Ultimately quarterly earning reports were dinged.
That said, some glimmer of hope arrived when AT&T and T-Mobile joined forces to alleviate some of the pressures on consumers and businesses by allowing their subscribers to share each others' network while cutting the roaming costs.
Apple launches iPhone 5
Apple was expected to launch the iPhone 5 in one of the most anticipated events of 2011, but eventually didn't happened until 2012. Many thought that the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant would release the media-dubbed 'iPhone 5' last year, but instead released a the iPhone 4S which was built with minor revisions from the most recent model, the iPhone 4. How was Apple going to maintain its edge in the smartphone market?
With a 4-inch smartphone offering next-generation 4G LTE speeds. But, after the event, many media members and company analysts were left disappointed. Many consumers took to social media networks to air their frustration, and complain that innovation was plummeting in the company.
Apple ultimately suffered a loss during its fourth quarter earnings report. However, with 15 percent of the company's revenue in China, Apple launched the iPhone 5 in the world's most populated country in December.
Google hit by U.S., EU antitrust suits
While the lead-up has taken the best part of two years, authorities on both sides of the Atlantic came close this year to concluding ongoing antitrust suits against search giant Google for alleged anti-competitive behavior.
Formal probes were opened against Google for allegedly 'cooking' its search results in order to favor its own services ahead of others, while pushing rival search results down the page. The investigation received more than a dozen formal complaints from a bevy of companies, including Microsoft-owned search engine Ciao!, Foundem, eJustice, Expedia, and TripAdvisor. The search company also allegedly "copied" content from other services without prior consent, and has been under the watchful eyes of both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission for the past year.
(The U.S. FTC also dinged Google after the search company was found to have bypassed the security settings on the Apple Safari browser earlier this year. Google settled for $22.5 million, which by our count, could have been recouped by Google in just five hours.)
Recent reports suggest that both the U.S. FTC and EU authorities will announce their plans to settle with the search giant in early 2013. Google can be fined up to 10 percent of its global annual turnover if it is found in breach of European law, which could amount to as much as $4 billion in fines.