Review of technology in 2012: World wide web of trouble

'By July there were 50 lawsuits between Apple and Samsung'

There were many technological triumphs to celebrate in 2012, from the geek chic of the £20 Raspberry Pi computer to the mini-tablet shoot-out between Google's Nexus 7 and Apple's iPad Mini.

But if there was one emotion that characterised the year in technology, it was 'being a bit cross'. We're used to seeing vituperative reactions on social media to everything from human rights abuses to ejections from Strictly Come Dancing, but 2012 had more than its fair share of technology-related fury, starting back in January with the outcry over proposed legislation to curb copyright violation.

The provisions contained within Sopa (Stop Online Privacy Act), Pipa (Protect Intellectual Property Act) and Acta (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) came in for sustained criticism for their vague wording and potential threat to perfectly legal activity; one commentator warned of the internet being crippled "by greed and ignorance". A one-day blackout by some 7,000 websites, including English Wikipedia, helped to spread the word, and today Sopa and Pipa are sitting on ice, while Acta was rejected by an EU vote in July over its perceived threat to civil liberties.

Anonymous, the online group which is seen as either a bunch of righteous vigilantes or an "internet hate machine" spent much of the year fuming angrily, and bringing down websites of organisations they deemed to be bulldozing their internet playground. The shutdown by the US Department of Justice of Megaupload, a file-locker website used mainly – but not exclusively – for sharing pirated content, led to the "single largest internet attack" in Anonymous's history, with Universal, Warner Bros, the FBI and many others targeted.

Attempts by law enforcement agencies to shut down sites like Megaupload are usually characterised as pointless, never-ending games of Whack-A-Mole, but Megaupload's closure did prompt similar services to either shut down or change their business model. Last week the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) deemed the action to have been a great success.

Apple was furious with Samsung, and Samsung was furious with Apple. By July there were some 50 lawsuits between the two companies over alleged infringements of intellectual property, from the curve of gadgets' corners to the 'overscroll bounce' we see when we swipe our screens too quickly. Who won? Well, a South Korean court said Apple, the Japanese said Samsung; British judges found in favour of Samsung and demanded that Apple 'apologise' – although Judge Colin Birss's pronouncement that Samsung's products weren't "cool" enough to be mistaken for Apple's soured the victory somewhat.

But the big win for Apple came in the USA, with $1bn in damages awarded to the Cupertino giant by a jury who reached their decision with merciless speed. As the verdict was given, bigger arguments raged over the relentless amassing of patents by technology corporations, the stifling of innovation caused by patent wars and whether lay juries should even be used in patent trials – arguments that will rumble on for years to come.

Apple's customers were miffed when they upgraded their iPhone to a brand new operating system, iOS6, only to discover that the Maps application – previously a pretty reliable product made by Google – had been replaced with Apple's own effort, a risible piece of software that immediately came in for sustained ridicule. Whether multiple versions of the same landmark were situated in the wrong postcode, or defunct businesses were positioned 20 doors away from where they used to be, the errors within Maps represented a PR disaster for Apple.

It was far from being Apple's first turkey, but the replacement of something functioning with something malfunctioning was seen as insulting by many customers. CEO Tim Cook issued a public apology, while Scott Forstall, the head of the division responsible for the debacle, was removed from his post in October. iPhone users, meanwhile, are still wishing they could get their old Maps app back.

Facebook saw its billionth user sign up to the service in October, but this was scant consolation to the shareholders who'd invested in the company back in May and had watched the share price tumble – at one point to less than 50 per cent of its original level. Some filed lawsuits, complaining that weakened growth forecasts hadn't been disclosed, while pundits reminded us of the dotcom boom when people were throwing money at overvalued companies in the belief that it would all come good in the end.

But the power and value of social media couldn't be ignored in 2012. The Olympic Games became the 'Social Olympics' as the names of Bolt, Ennis, Daley and Wiggins reverberated across the internet. President Obama, meanwhile, triumphed in the 'Social Election' – a picture featuring him in a post-victory embrace with the First Lady becoming the most tweeted in history, and reminding us that there is a softer side to the internet. You just don't see it very often.

@Glinner You know what Spotify's always-on sharing option makes me feel like? One of the human batteries in The Matrix. Something being harvested

Graham Linehan, comedy writer

@SarahMillican75 Just witnessed one old lady show another old lady how to use a Dyson Airblade. Glorious. Much giggling

Sarah Millican, comedian

@Wintersonworld If thinking is movement confined to the brain then Facebook is the locked cell in the lunatic asylum where you pace in your straightjacket

Jeanette Winterson, author

@alaindebotton We always knew we lived among millions of others: only now are we realising what this means in terms of the number of opinions

Alain de Botton, writer and philosopher

@mrjohnofarrell If Waterstones are going to sell the kindle they should secretly programme them with subliminal messages saying 'Use your local bookshop'

John O'Farrell, writer

@Jerome Taylor Man who invented the TV remote has died. I'd go to his funeral but can't be bothered to get off the sofa

Jerome Taylor, religious affairs correspondent at The Independent and i

Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
VIDEO
News
With its new studios in Paris, Dailymotion has reinforced its position as Europe’s most-visited website
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Sport
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull
football
Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
film
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Apprentice IT Technician

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

    1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

    £153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

    Sales Associate Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

    Apprentice C# .NET Developer

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We provide business administration softw...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit