Wednesday, December 19, 2012

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR


TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Google glass

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Google glass comes out of the innovation lab of Google X, a pet project of Google founder Sergey Brin, which is focused on next generation innovations. It comes equipped with a camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a 0.5 inch display.

Did we mention that it looks sexy and sophisticated as well? Flip the commands on and you have access to maps, take photo and share them, do a video-chat and also get online. Awesome!

Google glass was debuted at the 1/O developer conference earlier this year. It is part of the search giant’s strategy to go beyond search to compete with the tearing user growth of new entrants like Facebook. 

Google glass can be pre-ordered at $1500 a pop. Google’s latest gizmo may have a lot of folks very excited but its real success will be revealed in a few years.

BEST CRICKETING MOMENTS

BEST CRICKETING MOMENTS

Tendulkar’s 100th century

Like any other year, this one too had its highs and lows, moments that captured the imagination for contrasting reasons. Here's a lowdown on what happened in the world of cricket in 2012.



Even for a country obsessed with records, rarely has such anticipation preceded a landmark. The possibility of his hundredth international ton sat on Tendulkar’s shoulders like Betaal on Vikram, shackling the great man under its burden for an inordinately long period. Several ‘suitable’ opportunities were missed, chances strewn and the knock finally arrived at Mirpur againstBangladesh, on March 16, 2012 in the Asia Cup. 

Tendulkar’s reaction was strange: “It's been a tough phase for me ... I was not thinking about the milestone, the media started all this, wherever I went, the restaurant, room service, everyone was talking about the 100th hundred. Nobody talked about my 99 hundreds. It became mentally tough for me because nobody talked about my 99 hundreds." Oh yes, and India lost that match to Bangladesh.

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Samsung overtakes Nokia to become top phone brand of 2012

Samsung overtakes Nokia to become top phone brand of 2012: IHS
Samsung has overtaken Nokia as the top mobile phone brand for 2012 and has opened up a decisive lead over Apple in the smartphone market.
WASHINGTON: Samsung has overtaken Nokia as the top mobile phone brand for 2012 and has opened up a decisive lead over Apple in the smartphone market, a research firm said on Tuesday. 

This will mark the first time in 14 years that Finland-based Nokia will not sit atop the global mobile phone business on an annual basis, according to IHS iSuppli. 

Samsung is expected to account for 29 percent of worldwide cellphone shipments, up from 24 percent in 2011, according to the IHS, which said Nokia's share dropped to 24 percent from 30 percent. This will mark the first time the South Korean electronics giant will occupy the top on a yearly basis, IHS said. 
Samsung has also extended its lead over Apple as the top maker of smartphones worldwide, the survey said. Samsung will have 28 percent of the market, up from 20 percent in 2011, while Apple's share will rise in 2012 to to 20 percent from 19 percent. 

"The competitive reality of the cellphone market in 2012 was 'live by the smartphone; die by the smartphone,'" said Wayne Lam, senior analyst at IHS. 

"Smartphones represent the fastest-growing segment of the cellphone market and will account for nearly half of all wireless handset shipments for all of 2012. Samsung's successes and Nokia's struggles in the cellphone market this year were determined entirely by the two companies' divergent fortunes in the smartphone sector." 

IHS said global smartphone shipments are set to rise by 35.5 percent this year, while overall cellphone shipments will increase by just one percent. This will propel 2012 smartphone penetration to 47 percent, up from 35 percent in 2011. 

IHS noted that Samsung produces dozens of smartphone models every year that address all segments of the market, from the high-end to the low-end. Nokia is transitioning its smartphone line to the Windows operating system, resulting in declining shipments for the company. 

Sales of Nokia's older Symbian-based phones have plunged, while its new Microsoft Windows-based handsets have been modest so far. 

IHS said Samsung, which was in a tight battle in 2011 with Apple, has moved ahead decisively ahead of the California giant with a wide range of Android smartphone offerings, while Apple limited its smartphones to the premium iPhone line. 

The report said BlackBerry maker Research in Motion will see its market share fall to five percent in 2012, from 11 percent in 2011. 

IHS said it expects smartphones gains to accelerate in 2013, and to account for 56 percent of the mobile phone market.

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Facebook IPO

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.

Image via Reuters

Perhaps the biggest tech story of 2012 was the highly anticipated event of Facebook going public at a whopping, previously unheard valuation of $100 billion.
The IPO driven by gung-ho analysts and rabid media ensured that the stock was already oversubscribed forcing Facebook to issue more shares. Not since the Google IPO debut had NASDAQ witnessed such madness.
But the IPO was a damp squib from day one, with the stock tanking on debut and in the process leaving thousands of investors with a lighter wallet. For the first time, the company that could do no wrong looked like a loser. Analysts had concerns about Facebook’s flat audience growth in the US, its ability to keep revenues growing at a fast clip and questions around how it will monetize mobile.
After weeks of the stock dipping and going below the $20 mark, it has picked up somewhat, buoyed by better mobile monetization and Zuckerberg assurance that Facebook will explore new revenue streams. 
The company’s latest milestone was to breach the 1 billion active user mark

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR


TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

iPhone 5 and the iPad mini

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.



The iPhone’s release in September this year was one of the most highly anticipated events in the 2012 tech calendar. Apple did not disappoint. The new iPhone is thinner, lighter and has a bigger screen size. Apple fan-boys, wowed by the beautiful new toy, flooded the company with pre-orders snapping up more than 4 million iPhones in the first three days after launch. 

The iPhone is Apple’s brightest jewel in an already glittering product portfolio that includes bestsellers like the MacBook range and the iPad. Consider this: Revenue from the iPhone is more than the combined revenues of all Microsoft products! It also contributes to more than 50 per cent of all Apple revenues and two-thirds of the profits. 

You’d think that Apple would take it easy after the iPhone release. But no, for months on end there were rumours of a new iPad, a smaller version, and maybe cheaper, too. Rumours proved to be true. Tim Cook released it in October during a special Apple event. Dubbed the iPad mini, it was Apple’s response to the changing tastes of consumers, and competition from the likes of Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. While demand for the iPad mini has not been as rabid as the iPhone or iPad, expect that to pick up as and when Apple irons out chinks to current product and drops the current high price

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR


TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Facebook buys Instagram

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.

Image

Everybody loves mobile photo sharing service Instagram, but the question on everybody’s mind was- is it worth $1 billion? Facebook founder Zuckerberg was convinced it was, and personally orchestrated the signing of the deal; word has it that the board was not in the know.
It was a big bet to make considering Instagram had zero revenues. Zuckerberg was of the opinion that Instagram could be really useful for Facebook as it sought new means to deeply engage its users and its increased focus on mobile.
The bet seems to have paid off, Instagram’s user base seems to have grown, from 30 million in April to over a 100 million in September, and engagement is at an all-time high. Now that $1 billion looks like a real bargain, especially when you consider that a rival like Google could have snapped up the photo-sharing site and made life really difficult for Facebook.

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR


TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Crowdfunding comes of age

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.



Who would have thought that a start-up that is geared towards raising money using the crowd for funding other start-ups and events would become so successful?

Kickstarter epitomizes the crowd-funding phenomenon that is helping start-ups bypass the traditional world of venture funding and go directly to users. Other than raising money, Kickstarter provides the opportunity for start-ups to get validity; if users want to drop dollars on your start-up they will also be interested in your service right?

Here’s how it works. A start-up puts out a poster talking about how much funding it needs, and by when it needs it. Users who believe that the start-up has a recipe for success chip in with how much they can. There is a clock ticking with a deadline by which they need to raise the cash.

Kickstarter has become very successful at helping start-ups raise funds Eric Migicovsky for example wanted to raise $100,000 for his Pebble watch. He ended up raising $7.8 million!

Kickstarter maybe the poster child for crowdfunding, but they are not alone, other crowd-funding platforms include Indiegogo, Crowdfunder and Fundable.

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR


TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

SOPA Blackout

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.

Image via Getty Images

In January, there was a proposal made in the US to curtail the freedom of the Internet by clamping down on sites, which did not possess copyright for the content that they carried. SOPA or Stop Online Privacy Act was a piece of legislation proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX). 

It sought that the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders take legal action against these websites. If SOPA had to come into effect, both search engines and advertisers would have blocked out websites that published copyrighted material.

This was seen as an act of censorship and weakening the freedom the Internet. Reaction to SOPA was immediate and fierce. Google put a black box asking users to write in and protest the Act, while Wikipedia blackened its English language sites. Other internet giants who oppose SOPA are Facebook, Zynga and Twitter. After the intense protests against SOPA, all plans to draft the bill was indefinitely rescinded.

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR


TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Google driverless car

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.

Image via Wikimedia


Google does search. So would you think of Google when you spoke of a driverless car? Maybe not, but Google has demonstrated the driverless car could be a viable alternative to driving a car yourself. Accidents and deaths could be reduced and traffic more efficiently organized.

Google engineer Sebastian Thrun leads the project, he has worked on the technology previously atStanford University, where his team created the robotic vehicle Stanley that won the $2 million 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge.

The technology behind the car is artificial intelligence combined with Google’s patented Street View technology. It uses a combination of cameras, sensors and radar to navigate safely.

The driverless car could take years to enter commercial production. So far Google has had over 300,000 miles of accident-free testing. The search giant has been busy lobbying with many state governments in the US to permit these cars on the road. So far Nevada, Florida and California have passed laws to permit them.

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR


TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Pinterest interest grows

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.



Not many would have known of Pinterest in 2011. All that has changed in 2012, Pinterest, where users pin objects of interest has taken the social media world by storm.

According to Experian Marketing Services, Pinterest is the third most visited social networking sitein the US after Facebook and Twitter.

Women who were early adopters and evangelists continue to be the biggest users of the site. Users pin photos of desire around specific categories and share this content with other users. This is indeed a great way to discover content around the web on specific topics like ‘cute cats’ and ‘ugly dogs’. Publishers and businesses love this because it directs ridiculous amounts of traffic to their website. 

Expect Pinterest to continue to grow at a frenetic pace in the months ahead. New features have been introduced to keep the site looking fresh and users excited like the ability to create secret boards.

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR


TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Apple wins copyright infringement

image via Google Images


2012 saw Apple and Samsung embroiled in an ugly battle over copyright infringement. Apple accused the Korean electronics major of stealing the iPhone design and plastering it on its own phones resulting in a loss of millions of dollars. 

Samsung refuted these claims, and a pitched battle ensued. 

Eventually Samsung was forced to eat humble pie, the court ordered that the company pay $1 billion in damages. Apple justified attacking its vendor (a lot of Samsung’s product go into Apple devices) stating that it had resorted to taking Samsung to court as a last resort. 

Samsung may have had to cough up $1 billion fine, but demand for its phones continue to surge, even after Apple debuted its iPhone 5.

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR


TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Cloud computing

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Cloud computing has been a buzzword for a few years now. But in 2012 it has really taken off. Initially only adopted by small and medium businesses the trend is slowly catching on with bigger companies as well. 

The Wall Street Journal reported in July this year that eight out of 10 Fortune 500 companies are already deploying cloud services on their IT infrastructure. Cheap hardware, affordable connectivity and more reliable cloud computing solutions are fuelling the growth of the cloud. 

Questions about cloud security may continue to linger but that hasn’t stopped CIOs from deploying cloud-based services. The biggest adopters of cloud computing continue to be SMBs who derive maximum value due to its pay-per-user business model. Larger companies see value in spending more on the cloud when they are getting rid of legacy systems and have the opportunity to move to something new.

The potential of computing on the cloud is huge and it is expected to touch $55 billion by 2014 and $241 billion by 2020. Unless there is a huge security catastrophe because of a hacker attack, the cloud is here to stay, and continue to grow

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR


TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Facebook blows past a billion users

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.

Image Via Yahoo

IPO debacle notwithstanding, Facebook continued its upward trajectory and went past a billion active users. Not bad for a company founded in a Harvard dorm room, whose founder gets all sweaty when asked too many difficult questions and continues to wear a hoodie to work every day. User growth in the US may have stalled, but there is still huge potential is other markets including India, Brazil and China. 

Relatively new entrants into the social media industry showed that there are opportunities for players with new offerings like Pinterest and Instagram. The latter, a photo-sharing site was bought by Facebook for over a billion dollars, while Pinterest is on a blazing growth trajectory that doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon. 

Facebook was launched in 2004, and took six years to reach 500 million users. It took just over 2 years to reach another 500 million!

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

TOP TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR

Microsoft debuts the Surface

Trudging through the trail of 2012 tech stories and yanking out the best was an onerous task. After much scrutiny, we have unearthed the absolute best.

Image via Google Images


Microsoft started off as a software company, refusing to get into hardware, letting other players like Apple get their hands dirty making machines that bundled both. But after many decades of making billions of dollars from its Windows operating system and Office suite the Redmond-based software giant tried its hand at hardware. It launched Zune to compete with the iPod, Windows phone to have a presence in the mobile world and then Xbox to get into people’s living rooms. 

When Microsoft first debuted the Surface computer, it met with rave reviews because it was a new way of computing. More tactile, using touch, and different ‘surfaces’ as computing devices it caused a sensation. But it was still a research effort.

Microsoft finally debuted the commercial product in the form of the Surface Tablet in June, and guess what, it crashed mid-debut. Product fail? Maybe not, Microsoft’s tablet may have its glitches, but combined with its new design centric Windows 8 software it may prove to be the dark horse in the tablet wars.