Marking 2006, tech style

As the Mac and PC grow past their adolescence years, other technologies like open-source software and "Super 3G" have made significant inroads in 2006 as well.
Written by Aaron Tan, Contributor

2006 will leave its mark in history books as the year when technologies such as open source and Java celebrated significant milestones.

ZDNet Asia recaps some of the eventful milestones of last year: the PC's 25th birthday, Google's share price crossing the US$500 mark, and the first time OpenOffice clocked 50 million downloads globally.

Happy Birthday, PC!
After 25 years, the personal computer continues to hold its own. New products from both hardware and software vendors thrashed soothsayers' prediction that the machine would be dead in no time.

There are still many people who do not own a PC today, and as Microsoft's Asia-Pacific general manager Oliver Roll put it: "The PC will go from strength to strength. Many more PCs will be sold to individuals and families who can't afford one today."

Others like Intel will continue with their programs to bring the PC to the masses, by introducing pay-per-use initiatives and developing PCs that suit the needs of rural owners.

Same goes to Apple
Apple, the sexier cousin of the PC, also blew some big candles in 2006. The famous tech icon, with its bold and cutting-edge designs, celebrated its 30th anniversary. The computer maker, however, now sells more iPods than Macs.

Going forward, Apple looks likely to maintain a comfortable lead over competitors like Creative, Sony and Samsung in the digital music player market. In early 2007, the company is rumored to be unveiling a cellphone to tap on youngsters' penchant for instant gratification through music downloads over cellular networks.

Kudos to OpenOffice, Firefox
Even as Microsoft has launched Office 2007 with a swanky new user interface, an open-source competitor has been gaining ground among businesses keen on cutting the lines to Redmond. Since the OpenOffice.org project started in 2000, the free office suite has been downloaded almost 50 million times.

Not to be outdone is the Firefox open-source Web browser, which hit its 75 million download mark in July 2006. The milestone provides at least a psychological boost to the foundation's volunteers and staffers, who have watched growth rates slip amid a string of security problems.

Lenovo looks for second act
One year into the acquisition of IBM's PC business, Lenovo is already looking to expand its presence beyond its U.S. and China strongholds. Things are looking good for the world's third largest PC maker, as quality concerns initially expressed by business users loyal to the IBM ThinkPad brand have quickly dissipated. Now, the company plans to make headways in developing countries such as India. As a sponsor of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Lenovo is also hoping to raise its global profile and boost awareness of its products.

World's first 'Super 3G' laptop
At CommunicAsia in June, Taiwanese notebook PC maker Dialogue unveiled the world's first laptop touting built-in high speed downlink packet access (HSDPA).

Targeted at business users and consumers, the Flybook V33i Series has a card reader that accepts 3G (Third-Generation) and HSDPA cellphone SIM cards for ubiquitous high-speed Net access. This year also saw several mobile operators in the region starting HSDPA services, including Singapore and Malaysia.

Google share price surges past US$500
In November 2006, search giant Google's stock price hit the roof, recording a historic high of US$504.72. Still, industry observers think Google has not reached its peak valuation, since it also has the highest organic growth rate among Internet rivals Yahoo and eBay.

With Google's spectacular financial performance, the company's net profits could surpass Yahoo's in the next three years. A share price of US$600 is not an impossible feat for Google, it seems, at least according to one analyst.

Record handset shipments
Global cellphone shipments hit a record in 2006 with 254.9 million phones sold during the third quarter, a 7.9 percent increase from the previous quarter. If this growth is sustained, the industry is expected to see its billionth handset shipped by end-2006, according to IDC.

Open source Java, finally
After years of resistance, Sun Microsystems finally relented to calls from developers to make the Java programming language open source. In November 2006, Sun released the first batch of source codes for Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE), including the JavaC compiler and Java Hotspot Virtual Machine (Hotspot VM), and Java Platform Micro Edition (Java ME).

Open-source Java will be governed by version 2 of the General Public License. The source code of the platform is expected to be fully released by 2007.

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