2012: ZDNet's definitive guide to the year in tech

2012: ZDNet's definitive guide to the year in tech

Summary: A look back at the hot topics, major discoveries, and technological breakthroughs of 2012: from privacy to surveillance, major product launches, successes and catastrophes.


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  • Barack Obama re-elected U.S. president; social media engagement rockets

    This year's U.S. Presidential election was not just a single day in November. It spanned the best part of two years. Towards the end of campaigning, political engagement was at record levels thanks to social media's presence. With catchphrases and deep-rooted satire, many took to the Web to experiment with the rise of meme culture to roast the politicians. The spoofs and the satire became almost the highlight of the entire event. 

    There was, however, a lot of talk about what might happen if New York and New Jersey -- two states hit badly by Hurricane Sandy -- could not vote. But Americans in both states still managed to head to the polling booths and cast their vote, despite the widespread power and cellular outages across the two states.

    Eventually, after more than 24 hours of solid speculation and a record amount spent on political spending, the Democrats sailed to victory. One bright spark was Nate Silver, a writer for The New York Times who was already well-known for his political Website, 538.com. Silver even became the story after he predicted the winner of every single state correctly

    It wasn't all smooth sailing, however. After Barack Obama won his second term to the White House, anti-Obama racism flooded Twitter, particularly from the states of Alabama and Mississippi.

  • Facebook launches the biggest technology IPO in history; flops miserably within days

    Facebook, the world's largest social network with more than one billion members, filed to trade publicly earlier this year. With an initial public offering (IPO) price of $38 a share, it would be one of the largest IPOs in technology history. The company's peak market cap stood at more than $104 billion and was one of the most anticipated events of 2012.

    It was all smooth sailing until the company actually launched. Trading was delayed by half an hour due to technical problems on the Nasdaq -- traders didn't know if their orders had gone through or not -- but the company's stock shot up to $45 a share. Within a few days, the company tumbled below the $30 a share mark, and 70 days later, it fell below the $20 a share mark. Within only a couple of months, Facebook's shares had halved. 

    Morgan Stanley, the primary IPO underwriter, ended up with a $5 million fine over the botched initial public offering, but considering its $32.4 billion in revenue during 2011, it was barely a slap on the wrist.

  • Apple sees record iPad sales, but suffers a month of screw-ups

    Apple really suffered during the final months of the year. From mid-September, things started to go badly wrong. First of all, Hurricane Sandy had a devastating effect on the Eastern seaboard, which hit major metropolitan areas at the same time that the new iPad mini was released. Sales were not as good as expected as a result of the "superstorm," but Apple was still able to achieve a "weekend record" of three million iPads during the first few days of the product's launch. 

    iOS 6, the firm's latest mobile operating system, came with a serious headache all of its own: Maps. The in-house application that was meant to replace Google Maps was terrible; so much so, Apple chief executive Tim Cook even apologized for the screw-up. Weeks later, the company announced a massive management shake-up that led to the departure of Scott Forstall, the man in charge of Apple's iOS division.

    Apple's retail chief John Browett was also ousted from the company after he not only failed to crack China -- a key market for Apple to dip into -- but also led to a near-coup of the firm's retail store staff after he said they would face reduced worker hours and even layoffs. One of his final acts at the company was backtracking on the changes, before he was summarily booted out.

Topics: Presentations, 4G, United Kingdom, Security, Privacy, Microsoft, iPhone, Government, Google, Apple, Windows 8

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  • And here is one of the story that ZDNet missed

    Why did ZDNet miss it? Because it shows apple for the company that they really are.

    Here is the order of events:
    1. apple EMBRACES html.

    2. apple EXTENDS html with a proprietary extension called Touch Events.

    3. Mobile websites everywhere start using this extended proprietary API because 95% of all mobile web traffic is done with webkit browsers (is this beginning to sound familiar?).

    4. W3C drafts a standard based on Touch Events so that ALL browsers, even those that dare to not have a huge majority, can work with all mobile web sites (is this beginning to sound familiar?).

    5. apple EXTINGUISHES the html standard by forcing the W3C to abandon the standard after apple refuses to commit to offering royalty free access to apple patents involved in implementing the standard. apple doesn't want an html standard, they want a webkit "standard" defined by whatever apple feels like including in webkit and suing the authors of all competing browser engines who attempt to be compatible with the non standard proprietary apple extensions that web developers are using because apple has such a huge monopoly on the mobile web browser engine market. This FORCES every other browser to either implement webkit or die.

    6. Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Opera, jQuery, and a few other big players contribute to a new W3C standard called Pointer Events: "Microsoft, unlike Apple, is participating in W3C's standardization process and has made the intellectual property commitments that W3C demands"

    7. Microsoft implements Pointer Events in webkit and submits it.

    8. apple refuses to accept Microsoft's patch because: "Pointer Events spec had (unspecified) problems and that there was no point in supporting Pointer Events until real Web content used it." No point in supporting a standard until real web content used it? Huh. Back when every web developer was supporting MS "standards" apple certainly didn't have that attitude.

    9. apple is given every opportunity to join in the design process but they refuse: "Another Google developer invited Apple to join the Pointer Events Working Group to help improve the specification and address those unspecified problems, but thus far Apple appears to be unwilling to participate."

    Now, before you guys freak out and respond with "but MS did this" remember that this is the point. MS did this. They got in trouble for doing it. They got slammed for doing it. So slam apple now for their Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish tactic on web standards. We were promised that apple would be nicer. We were lied to.
    • Re: And here is one of the story that ZDNet missed

      Watch out, guys, Apple is the new badass over here...
  • What about Windows Phone 8?

    It is for me one of the most worthy hardware/software release of the year...
    • Naw

      It's just you.
    • Re; What about Windows Phone 8?

      You have to be joking. This phone is a huge flop. The phone are going to have try harrder to catch Apple or Android.
      Ian Norris
  • Speaking of technological breakthroughs

    I nominate ZDNet for upgrading its comment systems to include an advanced feature set once only enjoyed by early USENET users.
    none none