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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  • 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.

  • U.K. flips on the 4G LTE switch

    Many European countries already have 4G services, and the next-generation mobile network speeds are common across the U.S. and Canada.

    But the humble United Kingdom, a small island off the European mainland, was stuck in the cellular dark ages with 3G mobile broadband speeds. Eventually, after constant bickering and the threats of lawsuits by various mobile network operators, the U.K. government intervened and said 'enough was enough,' and the path was paved to prepare the population for faster cellular networks. 

    In September, EE was born as the first 4G LTE network in the country, aligning it with much of the Western world. It would still be a few weeks before LTE services were enabled and the switches were flipped firmly in the 'on' position. But the U.K. could -- at long last -- call itself a 4G country.

  • State-sponsored Flame malware hits Middle East

    Two years after Stuxnet infected Iranian nuclear facilities and damaged the country's ongoing nuclear program, malware called Flame was next to cause damage and disruption. Dubbed 'Flame' due to referenced words in fragments of code analyzed by Kaspersky Lab, the Russian antivirus and online security firm found the malware to be the "most complex threat" ever discovered. According to Kaspersky, the state-sponsored malware "redefines… cyberwar and cyberespionage."

    Flame targeted machines in Iran, the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, Sudan, Syria, and others in the region, and was far more sophisticated than Stuxnet in a number of ways. Instead of just targeting the physical infrastructure of the network, it was designed to steal data and collect audio and video content from webcams and microphones.

    Who or what was behind Flame remains unknown. While speculation remains rife around the circumstances of Stuxnet and similar state-sponsored malware attacks, some words in the code suggests an English-speaking country may have been behind the attack.

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.
    http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/12/microsoft-offers-patches-to-webkit-to-aid-touch-compatibility/

    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.
    toddbottom3
    • Re: And here is one of the story that ZDNet missed

      Watch out, guys, Apple is the new badass over here...
      ldo17
  • What about Windows Phone 8?

    It is for me one of the most worthy hardware/software release of the year...
    lepoete73
    • Naw

      It's just you.
      NoAxToGrind
    • 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