It’s been a big year for tech, with a lot of stories making headlines in the national newspapers. We’ve seen it all, including big name acquisitions, mammoth lawsuits and a fair amount of controversy. Here are 10 of the biggest moments 2012 had to offer.
January - March
A tough day for students across the land, Wikipedia closed its doors for 24 hours as part of protests against SOPA and PIPA, proposed US anti-piracy laws which included government powers to censor the web. Joined in protest by sites including Google, Flickr and Reddit, their efforts paid off and the legislation was never passed.
Kim Dotcom arrested
In a dramatic police raid on his New Zealand mansion, Megaupload founder, Kim Dotcom, was arrested for crimes related to online piracy, including racketeering and conspiring to commit copyright infringement. Megaupload was subsequently disabled by the US Department of Justice, and a hearing is scheduled to begin in March 2013.
April - June
In its largest acquisition to date, Facebook bought out hipster magnet, Instagram, for approximately $1 billion. The deal has caused a rift between Instagram and Twitter, resulting in both sites removing features that integrate the two services.
More recently, Instagram learnt that one thing it couldn’t make look good by whacking a sepia filter on top of was its shoddily updated terms of service, which claimed ownership of all photos taken with the app. Users wasted no time in making a massive fuss, forcing CEO, Kevin Systrom, to make a u-turn on the decision.
In one of the biggest US stock flotations in history, Facebook was listed on the Nasdaq. Shares were priced at $38 each, valuing the social network at $104 billion, much to the delight of early investors. However, things quickly took a turn for the worse, and in less than a week the share price had dropped to $32.
July - September
Samsung v Apple litigation
The patent infringement lawsuit between Samsung and Apple reached its climax over the summer, with Apple being awarded over $1 billion in damages. However, it was Samsung that arguably benefitted the most from the high profile proceedings, with many beginning to recognise the Galaxy S3 as a legitimate alternative to the iPhone. In the third quarter of 2012, the device was the best-selling smartphone in the world according to market research firm, Strategy Analytics.
New boss at Yahoo
A triumph for the women of Silicon Valley, Google’s 20th employee and first female engineer, Marissa Mayer, was named CEO of Yahoo whilst six months pregnant. Her most recent success is Flickr’s new iOS app, which exploded onto the market this month and wiped the floor with both Instagram and Twitter’s photo editing offering.
October - December
Tech old-timer, Microsoft, finally got its act together and entered the 21st century, launching a visually appealing operating system, Windows 8, and a tablet, the uninspiringly named Surface. Across the pond, the company even opened Microsoft Stores, which bear more than a fleeting resemblance to Apple’s existing armada of retail outlets.
It was a record-breaking year for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, all of which saw their highest ever number of likes, retweets and views respectively. Obama’s ‘Four more years’ re-election message was responsible for both of the social networking giants’ successes, whereas YouTube’s first video to reach 1 billion views was the work of dad-dancing Korean, PSY.
Microsoft wasn’t the only company trying to reinvent itself in 2012. Rising quietly from the ashes like a socially awkward phoenix, Myspace relaunched discreetly, bringing with it a totally revamped user experience and a sleek new user interface. Whether the new venture, backed in part by Justin Timberlake, will sink or swim remains to be seen.
Google fluffs its taxes
It’s been a mixed year for Google, but they definitely ended the year on a low point as far as their PR is concerned, when it was revealed that the naughty search giant exploited a loophole that allowed them to dodge approximately $2 billion in income taxes worldwide. According to Bloomberg, this allowed Google to shield about 80 per cent of its 2011 pre-tax profit. Not cool.