While the world did not end as speculated, the year 2012 was marked by a series of events that are sure to shape the future of tech as we know it. We witnessed healthy rivalry amongst brands when it came to dishing out gadgets, a multitude of smartphones and tablets flooded the market and there was also a dash of drama as Apple and Samsung were embroiled in patent wars and continued public mudslinging. Another big launch this year came from software giant Microsoft, as it introduced the much anticipated Windows 8 with touch UI. This also ushered in a whole new wave of hybrids to make the most of it.
On the other hand, this year particularly was marked by rising voices and increasing concerns over piracy, as netizens across the countries rose to meet their respective governments. Amongst other things that made headlines included the Facebook IPO and its subsequent buyout of the uber popular photo editing and sharing app, Instagram. And finally, some good news for students, India’s ambitious low-cost tablet project seems to be heading in the right direction thanks to Aakash 2. We’ve listed the top 10 tech events that shaped the year 2012.
Windows 8, the changing face of computing
Windows 8 hybrids
Microsoft kept everyone on tenter hooks by unfolding its Windows 8 OS and related products one by one. Starting with the consumer previews of Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013 to launching the Windows 8 RT and Windows Phone 8, Microsoft has been making headlines all through the year for rechristening Metro UI to Modern UI, Windows 8 apps to Windows 8 store and so on. The Mobile World Congress and IFA this year gave us a clear glimpse of what we can expect from Windows 8 devices; it clearly showed the hybrid designs as the next tech trend. There were several hybrids – laptop+tablet, ultrabook+tablet – trying to make optimum use of the touch UI and the traditional desktop UI. Soon enough, Windows Phone 8 was launched and the OS seemed quite fit with a slew of nifty features for high-end smartphones. Click here to get the complete buzz about Windows Phone 8. All in all, Microsoft made a lot of headlines with its latest Windows products.
Google Vs Apple… the battle intensifies
Apple's stunning Retina display
The mobile competition got fierce this year as Apple and Google unleashed their newest iterations of OS – iOS 6 and Jelly Bean respectively, which are now more powerful and feature-packed. We saw these newest flavours shine out through the iPhone 5 and Nexus 7 tablet. Soon after, the two horsed race got a third contender in the form of Windows Phone 8 and a slew of smartphones have started surfacing. In October, Apple entered the 7-inch tablet market with the iPad mini. The iPad mini is smaller than the usual iPad, but a tad larger than other 7-inch tablets available in the market, with a 7.9-inch multi-touch display. One highly anticipated feature that goes missing on the iPad mini is the Retina display. However, while updating its Mac lineup, the Macbook Pro was launched with the Retina display.
Facebook goes public with IPO
Facebook goes public
With billions of users around the world, Facebook has redefined the way we communicate and made its founder Mark Zuckerberg one of the youngest billionaires. While it’s nothing new for Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg to grab headlines, be it his hoodie or his pet dog, in May this year, Facebook created quite a stir as it held its IPO. While Facebook fended off buyout offers over the years, it accepted private investment and had to take the company public after having crossed the threshold of 500 shareholders. Needless to say, there was a lot of excitement around the IPO, with people wanting to be a part of the Facebook success story. However, what was hailed as one of the biggest IPO’s in tech history, soon got mired in controversy. To begin with, within the first few hours that it went live, a technical glitch with NASDAQ’s system meant that trades were wrongly placed. Facebook stock was believed to be overpriced and there were also talks of company insiders having alerted industry experts beforehand. It was reported that a few big investors stayed away from the IPO as they had inside information about the actual earnings of the company, while thousands of small-investors who rushed to buy stocks suffered. The IPO that was issued at $38 slipped within a few days and continued to spiral as it reached lower than $27.
Nokia Lumia makes a splash
Nokia Lumia 920 created quite a buzz
In what is considered a bold move, the Finnish mobile giant Nokia teamed-up with Microsoft instead of partnering with Google. In the war of OSes, Symbian was losing sheen, with iOS and more so, Android, taking the lead. Nokia was battling against the tide of Android-based devices flooding the markets from manufacturers like Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony, amongst others. Trade pundits believed that if Nokia wanted to regain the lost ground, then it would naturally go with Android, but much to everyone’s surprise, it signed up with Microsoft. Since then, there has been curiosity to see what will be the result of the partnership. While Nokia announced its Windows-based Lumia series last year, the handsets made their presence felt this year. In September, it launched the highly anticipated Lumia phones based on the Windows Phone 8 OS. Of the two handsets, Nokia Lumia 920 succeeded in creating a lot of buzz and if reports are to be believed, then it has crossed over 2.5 million orders. The devices are expected to be launched in India early next year.
Aakash/Aakash 2 tablet
Failed Aakash, promising Aakash 2
Aakash has been the talk of the tech town right from the start of the year. From being the sensational, affordable device to getting entangled in controversies and still managing to bring out the next iteration, Aakash has seen it all. The original Aakash has been an outright failure as it was marred by bad performance and has also been slammed for its slacky shipment wherein many consumers haven't yet received the device. The maker of the Aakash, Datawind, was quite a sensational subject itself. Datawind fell out with its key partners – Quad Electronics, its assembler and IIT Rajasthan, who was testing the original Aakash. The rumours and speculations were rife early this year that the Aakash project will be scrapped. However, we were surprised once again as Datawind won the bid for the Aakash 2 and started building it with the help of IIT Bombay. Currently, IIT Bombay is testing about 14,000 units of the Aakash, which will be utilised for teachers and students training. Unlike the original Aakash, the Aakash 2 tablet comes with better features. Its commercial version – the Ubislate UCi – is already available to order. Click here to know where exactly the Aakash 2 project is heading.
Internet censorship draws flak
Web blackout saw support of popular sites
Internet has emerged as a powerful tool in the recent years. Not surprising, the governments around the world want to gain control of it; however, it’s being done so by introducing bills under vague pretexts like curbing piracy and others. Bills like Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) proposed in the US Parliament have caused a lot of furor. These laws, if they had come into effect, would have had an impact not only in the US, but also many other countries of the world. Anti-SOPA movement in particular garnered support from popular sites like Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla etc. as they blacked-out their sites for 24 hours. Another event that made headlines was the crackdown on the popular file-sharing site MegaUpload and the subsequent arrest of its founder Kim Dotcom. On the home soil, the amendments made to the IT Act 2000 garnered lot of flak, as it is now mandatory for the intermediaries to act upon complaints received against objectionable content online within a span of 36 hours. But with no specific guidelines as to what can be termed objectionable, it’s open for interpretation and possible misuse. The arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, the Mamta Banerjee Facebook cartoon row and the more recent incident about a Facebook post that led to the arrest of two girls, are just an example of what can happen.
Anonymous comes calling
Anonymous comes calling
‘We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” Every individual connected to the online world was made aware of this motto, which belongs to a group that goes by the name ‘Anonymous’ and hails itself as the crusaders for freedom of the Internet. The activities of the group grabbed headlines around the world, as they took down sites, held protest marches and sent warnings to those looking to curb the online freedom. They lend their support to the Anti-SOPA movement and retaliated by bringing down sites of US Department of Justice, FBI, Universal Music Group, amongst others. Anonymous also made its presence felt in India and individuals wearing the famous ‘Guy Fawkes’ masks identified with the group protested across various cities in the country. The group came out to protest against the attempts of the government to censor Internet. When Internet service provider Reliance blocked sites like Vimeo, Dailymotion etc., Anonymous retaliated against it by bringing down the service providers site. Further attempts by the government to issue censorship were met with similar response, as the group brought down sites of DoT, High Court of India, BSNL amongst others. Anonymous also recently took down the official website of Union Minister Kapil Sibal over the comment on controversy involving the arrest of two girls over Facebook post.
Apple Maps fiasco
Flyover feature of Apple maps… nothing like Google's Street view
This year, Apple released the next iteration of its OS – the iOS 6. Among the various changes that iOS 6 would add, one of the highlights was its own mapping system. Apple developing its own maps means showing the door to its rival Google’s maps software. As the iOS 6 rollout began, users and industry experts started slamming Apple’s Maps for its poor performance and numerous errors. Users took to the web to vent their anger and many accused Apple of having put its own corporate interests ahead of those of its customers. Apple maps were filled to the brim with errors—some very dangerous ones. In fact, users have created a Tumblr blog sarcastically named The Amazing iOS 6 Maps on which many have posted screenshots of the errors. Finally, it was Google who came to its rescue as it rolled out its Maps app for iOS. And the iOS users lapped it up—supported by the fact that the Google maps app was downloaded 10 million times within just 48 hours of its launch.
Instagram makes it big
Facebook buys Instagram
In October 2010, an app was launched on the iOS platform, which turned the whole concept of clicking pictures on your smartphone on its head for the better. The square Instagram images reminiscent of Kodak Instamatic or Polaroid images, accentuated by filters, became quite a rage. And the fact that it was limited only to the iOS platform added to its allure. Instagram remained exclusive for Apple's iOS platform for the longest period of time. Amidst rumours and speculations about its Android debut, Instagram invited pre-registrations for Android users somewhere in March 2012. The pre-registration sign-up crossed over 400,000 within a few days and provided an inkling of what to expect when it was officially launched. Finally, Instagram for Android could be downloaded from Google Play store on April 3, 2012. And not surprisingly, it crossed more than one million downloads within 12 hours, while in a matter of six days, it crossed five million downloads. Shortly afterwards, what created a stir was the fact that Facebook bought over Instagram for a whopping $1 billion. Instagram recently ran into troubled waters owing to the changes in its ToS that implied that Instagram owned the user generated images uploded to its site and had the right to sell or use them as it pleased. However, it was quick to return to its original ToS.
Apple vs Samsung… the legal limbo continues
Apple and Samsung continue the battle
The once-friends-turned-foes went public with the feud last year and the mudslinging over patents and designs continued all through this year. After sessions of blame-game and legal suits filed across the world, this longest and much talked about tech battle appeared to come to an end, sort of, in August this year. The outcome was a huge setback for Samsung who had to pay up a whopping $1.049 billion as its leading devices have been accused of infringement. Samsung has appealed against this judgement and said a major patent verdict in favour of Apple Inc. should be overturned because the jury foreman did not disclose that he once was in litigation with Seagate Technology PLC, a company that counts Samsung as a major investor. In October-November, after the High Court of Justice of England and Wales ruled that the latter’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, Tab 8.9 and Tab 7.7 did not infringe upon Apple’s iPad designs, Apple had to publish an apology for Samsung on its website and newspaper. Earlier this month, USPTO dismissed 20 patent claims by Apple as invalid. Recently, Samsung was said to drop lawsuits seeking sales ban on Apple products in Europe.
While all these big news made the year eventful, there were several other tidbits that added the zing to the year 2012. This year, we saw Kapil Sibal do a lot of talking not just about Aakash but also about imposing censorship, and ended up annoying the Twitterati; Samsung took the Android OS to cameras and built the Galaxy camera; several forums and sites faced some serious hacking issues and more.
Cover Image: GettyImages
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