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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.