2009: A year in review, January
2010 is fast approaching and with it the top gala events in technology. So while we wait for MacWorld, CES and friends, it's the time of year that we take a look back over the last 12 months and see how much we've grown.
January is always the most exciting time of all. What better way to shake off the New Year hangover than with a hearty tech binge to get the blood pumping again? With MacWorld nipping in first, so as not to lose Apple's announcements in the tide of CES, we were somewhat underwhelmed with the arrival of just one piece of kit to get hot about. The MacBook Pro arrived in all its 17-inch glory alongside the launch of the iLife 2009 software and the much needed "and finally" announced iTunes music losing its DRM.
Once the focus switched from San Francisco to the hotels of Vegas, it was the Palm Pre, the Powermatt, the MSI X-series, the Dell Adamo, the Samsung P3 media player and the "not a netbook" Sony Vaio P that took over. Many of these we didn't see until much later in the year but there was plenty to keep us interested with the Mattel Mind Flex, Sansa Slot Radio, the the GiiNii Movit (first Android PMP despite never actually turning up), the Asus Keyboard and even the launch of Windows 7 beta.
Although many heralded the event as a quiet CES, it was still a decent show given the arrival of the recent recession. Accordingly, January was full of the news of job cuts and company downturns with employees at Dell, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, TomTom, Digg and AMD all suffering amongst many others. All the while, of course, Apple managed to pull in its best ever financial results.
At the same time, we were all told that our gadgets were going to get more expensive in the UK what with a lightweight pound, and just to illustrate the point, the Sony XEL-1 OLED TV arrived on our shelves at a not so cool £3489 - £1700 more expensive than in the US. Philips rubbed a little more salt into the wound by announcing the ground-breaking 21:9 Cinema TV which would later arrive at an even less affordable £4500 or thereabouts.
Thankfully, Sanyo was reading from a different script when the company announced a fantastic range of HD Xacti camcorders that went on to dominate the field in 2009. RIM also decided that it was time to give the consumer a hand when it offered a BlackBerry device on PAYG for the very first time as the Pearl 8120 hit Orange stores.
Cheaper still was the Internet itself which finally attracted a enormous 1bn user population by January, equating to something like 1/6th of the people on the planet. This was all very good news to hackers everywhere who hit the headlines by relieving job site Monster of over 4.5 million profiles. Perhaps it then should have been of little surprise when Google accidentally deemed the entire Internet malicious and warned everyone to stay away from it for a few hours.
The biggest event for the whole world, whether you like technology or not, was the inauguration of the first black president of the United States of America. The Internet swooned under the weight of the millions following Twitter, video streams or any other media for that matter which would enable us to watch the historic event unfolding live. Whether Obama himself was following it on his BlackBerry is another question.
As for other handsets, the Nokia Tube finally hit the shelves and, despite not being the iPhone killer we'd all been promised, there were still plenty of people queuing up to see for themselves. At the same time, Acer announced its intention to launch into the smartphone market with a considerably larger splash than has actually been felt since, whilst the "second" Android phone as made by Kogan fractured and dissolved back in to the ether from which it came.
Instead photos of a rumoured G2 were beginning to surface. If, however, you liked your mobiles with a little more innovation, a team from Hertford showed off the prototype of a voice controlled future handset called the Zumba. Big for a day, no word on it since.
In the world of video games, MadWorld was given the all clear on Wii bringing an interesting, if brief, change of direction for the software available for Nintendo's family console and a little game known as Call of Duty 6 was rumoured to be in development.
For the public as a whole, Twitter was hitting the headlines on a regular basis with more and more people joining up to the service. News from the plane crash into the Hudson River broke first on the microblogging site as one eye witness tweeted the events while they unfolded. If that wasn't important enough for the world to take note of the way the connected world affects our lives, then the publishing of the Digital Britain report here in the UK certainly caused a stir.
But, for those who'd rather focus on matters a little less serious, there was a small whoop of child like joy as LEGO announced a range of their own look gadgets to come. And so ended January.
For a closer look at these events and the rest of January take a look at our weekly round-ups from the month or head straight to the archive itself.