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 v. Samsung ends in $1bn damages; U.K. court takes a different turn

    The biggest trial of the year was between the two mobile super-giants: Apple v. Samsung. It ended with Samsung having to pay more than $1 billion in damages to the iPhone and iPad maker after its products were found to have "copied" the iPad's rounded rectangle design. 

    However, the U.K. case took an entirely different turn: Apple lost, and Samsung prevailed. Apple was forced to put a notice on its Web site and in newspaper advertisements to 'apologize.' When it ran a statement on its Web site, Apple embellished the statement with additional, non-court sanctioned comments, which landed the firm in even more trouble. It then had to formally -- and clearly -- apologize a second time around, and eat a boatload of humble pie.

    But the Apple v. Samsung news wheel continues to spin, and though the trial is over, there are plenty more nooks and crannies that the litigious companies can find themselves in, in the near future.

  • Google acquires Motorola Mobility for $12.5bn; price tag rises post-sale

    After going back and forth to regulators around the world, the Chinese government finally accepted the deal that would see Google buy smartphone maker Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in order to acquire more than 17,000 patents. Google needed the patents -- above all else -- to help fend off litigation by Apple and others, who continue to sue Android-powered smartphone makers, such as Samsung, while avoiding suing Google flat-out.

    Because the now Google-owned division was struggling financially, Google had no option but to restructure the entire business. All in all, the cost of the sale was bumped by a further $340 million -- pushing the overall price tag close to $13 billion.

    For now, we still have no idea if the sale was worth the full almost $13 billion, but the courts will soon decide. In the Microsoft v. Motorola (Google) legal spat, a court will decide how much Microsoft should pay Google in royalties for patents that it owns.

    Ultimately, this trial will determine how much the Motorola patents are actually worth, meaning Google has far less leverage with its other patent partners that could lead to the search giant generating far less in deals with other smartphone makers.

  • "Don't use Huawei, ZTE," says U.S. House committee

    That was the simple message by the U.S. House Intelligence Committee after the two Chinese telecommunications equipment makers were not proven of any wrongdoing, but enough suspicion fell on the firms to err U.S. businesses on the side of caution. The firm even said -- albeit in a self-commissioned report -- that it was not engaging in espionage in any country it operates in, and isn't under the thumb of the Chinese ruling party. 

    Despite the problems stateside, British Prime Minister David Cameron still welcomed Huawei chief executive Ren Zhengfei into Downing Street after Huawei pledged to invest $2 billion into the U.K. economy. Some weeks later, a U.K. parliamentary committee said it would launch its own probe into the Chinese technology giant's relationship with the U.K.'s largest telecoms provider, British Telecom (BT).

    Only months after the U.S. House gave its verdict, a Huawei-shaped hole appeared in the U.S. telecoms market, and Helsinki, Finland-based Nokia Siemens Network -- with its own money troubles -- was ready to fill that gap as a safe bet for U.S. companies.

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