2012: Year of consolidation for technology sector
Published 31/12/2012 | 10:21
The technology picture in 2012 was one of consolidation. Mobile remains the central battleground in consumer technology. The Google Android mobile platform continued to grow and the devices released to run it were better than ever. Apple released versions of its key mobile products - the iPhone 5 and iPad mini - that are perhaps the best designs the company has ever produced. BlackBerry and Nokia continue to struggle in the mobile market but remain alive, seeking one big breakthrough for 2013.
On the web, Facebook floated on the stock market, which showed that it was a grown-up business, according to some analysts, that it had no real value, according to others, and that there either was or wasn't a tech bubble, again depending on who you listened to. Google saw shares slip after announcing a decline in mobile ad revenue but the company still dominates online search and continues to innovate in other areas.
It was a tough year for the video games industry. Once considered recession-proof, the sector saw studios close and profits slip. There were bold new devices released, such as the Sony PlayStation Vita (above) and Nintendo's Wii U, but both launched into a changing world. More of us are becoming gamers but many of those new players are using their smartphones and tablets or even playing casual games on Facebook.
That's not to say that there weren't some brilliant games released. Journey, for example, was unlike anything else that had gone before, while The Walking Dead pushed the boundaries in video game storytelling and digital distribution.
Those who weren't playing games were perhaps filling their time with apps. These days, any app released on a smartphone is just as likely to be available on Android as Apple's iOS. In tablets, however, Apple's iPad still has the lead, particularly when it comes to innovate and in-depth content apps. There is no Android equivalent of TouchPress's The Orchestra (above), for example. Google's OS will almost certainly close the gap soon, though.
Finally, what were the big technology products of the year? For many, Samsung's Galaxy S3 was the smartphone of the year. The choice between that and Apple's iPhone 5 will be a close one for many people. Likewise, when it comes to compact tablet computers, there are three strong choices available: Amazon's Kindle Fire HD (above), Apple's iPad mini and Google's Nexus 7. Each one offers a slightly different proposition for a slightly different market.
In computers, those who weren't shifting focus to tablets were talking Ultrabooks, rather than desktops, or even notebooks. A flurry of these new computers - thin, light, highly powered - reached the market in 2012. Meanwhile Apple, which arguably created the template for the Ultrabook with the MacBook Air, was turning its attention to super-high resolution displays, adding so-called 'Retina' displays to its MacBook Pro range.
Elsewhere, Google was attempting to push its own template for the future of computing with the Chromebook: a laptop which simplifies life for the user by running entirely from the cloud. The downside is that without a web connection, the computer doesn't do very much of anything.
And what happens next? The technology world shakes off its new year hangover and kicks into life next week at CES, the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where a flood of new products will be announced and bold innovations unveiled. Telegraph Tech will follow it all, of course.
Shane Richmond, Telegraph.co.uk