Winners and losers of 2012

This has been quite a year in technology. This time last year our pockets were filled with the likes of the Galaxy Nexus and the iPhone 4S. Now it’s all about quad-cores and Instagram on Android. Crazy eh?

For consumer and company alike 2012 was mostly a good year, but there was plenty of fallout in the tech world. So who were the winners and losers of tech in 2012? Read on to find out.

Winners

Small form factor tablets

Apple made a major backtrack in 2012 over the iPad mini. When it came up with a product it always swore it would never create, Cupertino seriously upped the competition with the iPad mini .

Throw in the launch of the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD and you had plenty of small tablets to play with. The best bit? They were all cheap (well cheapish, if you count Apple).

Samsung

Catapulting itself to the top of the tech tree was Samsung. With its launch of the Galaxy S III, the Note II, Nexus 10 and many others, it was hard to walk into any phone or tech shop without spying the Samsung name.

Samsung also took a bit of a win on the legal front, with Apple being forced to run ads saying the big S never infringed on iPad patents in the UK. Throw in the rumour mill already winding up for the likes of the Galaxy S IV and you have Samsung at the top of its game.

Windows 8

Microsoft took a huge risk with Windows 8’s Live Tile UI. While it might not be to everyone's taste, we have to take our hats off to such a big company messing with its status quo.

For the first time in a long while, Windows felt exciting. The lack of a start button still irritates us, but all's forgiven the first time that slick-looking start screen boots up. Couple this with some innovation and design changes in laptops and tablets spurred on by Windows RT and Windows 8’s touch experience and we have a product with win written all over it.

Nikon

Nikon was at the forefront of photography in 2012. At the professional level, it ticked so many boxes by getting the D4 out and ready before the Olympics. The company also managed to beat the the competition to the punch by getting its affordable full-frame model - the D600 - out the door first.

Then there was the D800 which was an absolutely fantastic DSLR, the first to bring near-medium-format resolution to a more consumer-level price point. Another trick up Nikon’s sleeve was also the inclusion of clean HDMI output for video, a huge bonus for professionals planning on using the D4 or D800 with an external recorder for video capture.

The Cloud

It wasn’t until 2012 that the Cloud and all its niceties started to feel genuinely useful for the consumer. Everyone from Google to Amazon and Apple had some sort of cloud-based ecosystem set-up.

Now our media, photos and music can all be transferred and transported across desktop phone and laptop incredibly easily. Dropbox went from strength to strength and Google Music launched in the UK.

Laptop manufacturers

Apart from our decision to smash up one of HP’s, the laptop became a genuinely interesting product again in 2012. The MacBook Pro with Retina Display in both its 13-inch and 15-inch form dazzled us with its beauty, while weird and wonderful Windows 8 creations started to appear left, right and centre.

Lenovo had its Yoga, Dell its big XPS One 27 touchscreen desktop all-in-one. The Ultrabook got a lot more ultra thanks to Windows 8 and Microsoft rollout off the Surface. The laptop really did get exciting once more in 2012.

Losers

BlackBerry

No surprises really that BlackBerry falls well and truly into the losers category of 2012. Aside from a net loss of $114 million in its Q3 earning report, BlackBerry’s real failing for us was its lack of exciting products.

BlackBerry 10, the biggest change to the BlackBerry OS for years, still hasn’t been rolled out to the general public. Set for launch on January 30, it could be RIM’s last chance at turning things around.

Nokia PureView

The Nokia 808 might not have been much of a phone, but as a camera it was unparalleled. So when Nokia announced that PureView would be coming to other devices, we hoped for a Windows Phone 8 device under a similar guise.

Sadly we were duped. The Lumia 920’s camera wasn’t disappointing, but it was miles off what the 808 managed. It also showed Nokia’s intentions for PureView, which rather than developing the exciting ultra-high megapixel standards of the 808, was more to turn it into sales jargon to promote its smartphone cameras.

Megaupload

The Hong Kong-based Megaupload died in 2012, making it a fairly obvious loser. Adding to the drama of Megaupload’s end was the arrest of its founder, Kim Dotcom, in his New Zealand mega-mansion.

Assets worth $17 million have been seized and Dotcom’s Megaupload empire shutdown. A return to form is planned next year with Megabox and a clever twist on Spotify’s music-streaming set-up. For now though, Dotcom is stuck appearing in a play called MegaChristmas in Auckland. We aren’t joking.

Zynga

Summer 2012 in app land was all about an application called Draw Something. Produced by Omgpop, it caught on incredibly quickly and was catapulted to the top of the App Store. Zynga saw dollar signs and promptly snapped up Omgpop for between $180 and $210 million.

Now Zynga is writing-off up to $95 million against the Omgpop buy. Quite an expensive miss. Zynga’s own earnings have also been well below expectations and stock prices have dropped as much as 40 per cent. Things aren’t looking great for Zynga.

Instagram

Instagram’s big miss came right at the end of 2012. A revised set of terms and conditions saw users leaving Instagram after it looked as if their images would be used for advertising without their consent.

Instagram made a big u-turn on the whole thing and looked rather silly in the process. Now Instagram’s terms of service read the same as they did in 2010.