2009: A year in review, March

With February's frost thawed, March was a chance for all in techland to get back on its feet once more. The last of the economic low trickled away with more job losses at Nokia and Google, and with the closing down for good of Wikia Search, Microsoft Encarta and music service Spiral Frog as well. The green shoots of recovery looked well on the way though as The Hut group salvaged the online Zavvi stores and began to trade again.

Despite the losses and the directors being paid just $1 each in salary, Google was driving on and managed to launch both Street View in the UK and Google Voice as well. Naturally, there was much uproar from certain sectors over privacy concerns and a general panic from the mobile operators under a new threat from one of the world's giant corporations.

At the same time, these phone service providers had even more to panic about with both Skype's arrival on the iPhone and the announcement of the iPhone 3.0 OS, which would allow tethering. The reaction was, and still is, to cripple both services but for how long can they stem the tide?

Apple itself had a very busy time in March and for largely good reasons too. The lights went down on the Apple Store, as is traditional, and when they came back up we found refreshes to the Mac Pro, iMac and Mac Mini ranges to write about as well as the launch of the teeny, tiny, talking iPod shuffle. There was also a brief flutter as bogus pictures from a Russian website came in of a Mac netbook. Thankfully, all that was forgotten very quickly as the first genuine snaps of a new iPhone that could capture video arrived too.

As far as the iPhone 3G went, suddenly we were offered 2-year contracts or at the other end of the scale unlocked versions for well over £500 on Play.com.

On the other side of things for Apple, while the rallying cry of the announcement of the dates of WWDC 2009 was still ringing round the intertubes, a group of Chinese hackers cracked the iTunes gift voucher code and another elsewhere managed to win $5000 by taking Safari apart in a matter of seconds.

Firefox managed to last a few minutes longer which might have explained why it took over as the most popular browser in Europe for the first time ever which, in turn, might have encouraged Mozilla to launch the mobile version, Fennec.

However you chose to surf the Web, March was a time of celebrations for all as the Internet itself turned 20. Fortunately, it didn't go out for a night on the tiles and call in sick the next morning. If, however, you happened to be the lucky cyber squatter who flogged toys.com for $5 million, then perhaps you might have.

As ever, music was a hot area in March with the artist's rights spat between YouTube and PRS that seemed to go on an age plus, of course, boos all round as Last.fm began to charge all users outside of the UK, US and Germany. Fortunately, Spotify continued on the march with link ups with both Songbird and 7digital.

The other irresistible force of 2009, Twitter, was in the headlines as Sky appointed a special Twitter correspondent and the service changed the term "replies" to "mentions". No one listened.

In the world of hardware, more from CES 2009 arrived for real as the LED Samsung Luxias hit the shelves along with the Dell Adamo. At the same time, Dell decided it was going back to the drawing board on the smartphone front while distracting us with the Dell One desktop. Asus also chipped in with the company's own take at the ultra slim laptop market with the launch of the U and UX series and the EEE PC 1008HA as well.

On the phone front, we got our first sniffs of the HTC Hero, the BlackBerry Curve and the idea that the Palm Pre might eventually be exclusive to O2, one day. Nokia managed to bring out a glut of Xpress Music handsets to bolster its Comes with Music package that some insiders even hinted might go DRM-free one day. Hard to tell if that one was just a tease but the launch of the Sony Ericsson T707 with Maria Sharapova was most definitely designed to get people hot.

March was a bumper month for games with the announcement of The Beatles going digital with Rock Band, the dates for Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect 2 and the Resident Evil 5 zombie treasure hunt launch stunt. If you wanted to take pictures of it all then Canon was kind enough to launch its high-end entry-level 500D, Toshiba offered an alternative to the Flip with the 1080p Camileo range and Olympus dated the EP-1. All the while, Nikon sat back and celebrated 50 years of the F-mount.

If all that wasn't enough then there was Virgin looking into 200Mbps broadband, the launch of Wolfram Alpha alternative web search, the news that Best Buy was coming to the UK in 2010, the world's first colour ebook reader in Japan, the relaunch of the Mega Drive and, of course, our switch from .co.uk to the world spanning Pocket-lint.com. Bookmark it now.

 



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