2009: A year in review, December
December started with a bang at the 6th annual Vodafone Pocket-lint Gadget Awards. The public and 50 experts from across the Web cast their votes as to which were the best gadgets of the year in a whole host of categories - from music to cameras to GPS to games to phones to software.
The undisputed king of the hill was Spotify, which picked up "Best software, service or app" and fought off fierce competition from the "Best Mobile Phone", the HTC Hero, to also win "Product of the Year". Best camera was taken by the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, Modern Warfare 2 won best game and the best music gadget was the 3rd gen iPod touch.
In the home cinema category the best gadget was the Sony PS3 with Blu-ray drive, best GPS was the TomTom XL Live, Apple took the best laptop prize for its 13-inch MacBook Pro and best gadget went to the Eye-Fi wireless SD cards for cameras. Very close runners-up included the Sonos S5 Zoneplayer, Windows 7 and the Philips Cinema 21:9 screen.
But that wasn't all that happened in December. Despite the run-up to Christmas, product releases continued at pace - particularly in the phone market. The Samsung S5560 and B3410 arrived, along with the Philips ID965 DECT landline. The Motorola Milestone - which is the Droid renamed for the European market - showed up too, and almost immediately sold out of its limited stock.
The Wii continued to rule the sales charts in the approach to Christmas, at one point selling one every minute at John Lewis, but its dominance began to be ebbed away by the now super-cheap Xbox 360, which is due to be upgraded in 2010 by Microsoft's mysterious Project Natal. Both consoles considerably outsold the expensive but powerful PS3.
But the real joy in December was the planned and unplanned announcements of 2010's lineup from several manufacturers. The shadow of January tradeshow CES began to loom, and the first whispers of the products on show arrived. The biggest of those was the news of a tablet PC from Dell running Android, which could provide some competition for an Apple tablet if it ever arrives.
Also leaked was HTC's roadmap for the mobile phones it plans to release in the first half of 2010. There's a whole pile planned - five Android devices and three Windows Mobile. The stars of the show seemed to be the HTC Legend and HTC Bravo. The former is an upgraded HTC Hero with OLED display and optical trackpad due in March, and the latter is a huge 3.7-inch OLED-equipped, Snapdragon-packing monster that looks on paper to be one of the standout handsets of 2010 when it arrives in April.
The rollout of the media into the digital domain continued at pace, with Channel 5 following Channel 4 in signing a deal with YouTube to get its content available for free to the bazillions of viewers accessing the world's biggest video sharing site. On the other side of the Web, Twitter got briefly hacked by a group claiming to be the "Iranian Cyber Army".
Mozilla began talking up its forthcoming version of Firefox for mobile devices, Fennec, saying that it was going to kill off app stores entirely thanks to the accuracy of its rendering of Web apps. Most commentators thought this was a little ambitious, but Firefox 3.5 for the desktop topped the browser charts briefly as IE6's popularity waned and IE8 hadn't yet risen to its dizzy heights.
Google and Facebook also began their reviews of the year, revealing which topics were the most discussed. On Facebook, the top three were "Facebook applications", "FML" and "Swine Flu". Google's list was topped by "Michael Jackson", "Facebook", "Twitter" and Spanish social networking site "Tuenti".
So concludes our roundup of 2009, but stay tuned because next on the agenda is our predictions for 2010 and beyond. Which techs will hit the headlines in the next decade? Which will crash and burn in a storm of hype? Keep your browser pointed at Pocket-lint.com to find out.