Nine events that made 2009 the year of technology
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From video games to business IT applications and social networking – 2009 saw huge strides in the evolution of technology we increasingly take for granted.
A social networking revolution?
In terms of social networking, the Internet came of age in 2009. Facebook is nothing new, and relative newcomer Twitter, the micro-blogging site, has been around for a couple of years. But events in Iran in June, following a massive media clampdown after the disputed presidential elections, saw citizen journalists turning to Twitter and Facebook to get their message out, as well as posting huge volumes of video content on YouTube.
Android vs iPhone in the battle of the handsets
Despite Apple's runaway success with its flagship iPhone, 2009 has been the year of a different mobile phone operating system (OS) - Google's Android. Android can be run on a variety of devices made by different manufacturers, and rumour has it that Google will be unveiling its own device, the Nexus One, in January. But despite its successes, Android still has a long way to go to catch up with its competitor Apple, which has its own global community of application developers. More than two billion of the hundreds of thousands of "Apps" have been downloaded by users.
Windows 7 – a glimmer of hope for Microsoft?
After the terrible experience of Microsoft Vista, Microsoft in 2009 launched Windows 7 amid massive hype. "Fans" were encouraged to hold installation parties for the launch - which raised a few eyebrows - but since its launch it has been well received by techies, many of whom had stuck to Microsoft's older Windows XP operating system. The Redmond, Washington-based IT giant at the end of 2009 released the "beta" version of its new Office 2010 suite - and if it gets the same levels of approval, Microsoft can expect a highly successful year of software sales in 2010.
Google Apps – data in the cloud
Gmail's been around for quite a while, and for the last few years users with Google accounts have been able to use the California company's applications, including Google Docs, an online office suite. But 2009 saw "Google Apps" rolled out aggressively to businesses, where the Gmail email interface, as well as the office suite, can be used in conjunction with individual companies' internet domains. This is a direct challenge to Microsoft and it's ambitions to remain the world's number one provider of office software.
A bad year for Internet pirates
In the battle against online piracy, 2009 was marked by a case that saw the owners of popular file-sharing website The Pirate Bay convicted and jailed for promoting copyright infringement. In France, controversial legislation was passed (known as Hadopi) allowing the government to cut off the Internet access of persistent illegal downloaders, this will come into force on 1st Jan.
The triumph of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
The latest instalment of the Call of Duty franchise scooped 550,000 million dollars in sales within just five days of its release on November 9, an all time record for a video game. With more than 13 million copies sold so far, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 also has the accolade of being the most pirated game, with over five million illegal downloads.
Avatar – the future of cinema?
Illegal downloads are “free”, yet the cost of going to the cinema just keeps going up. Will 3D films, like James Cameron’s massively-hyped Avatar (at 500 million dollars the most expensive film ever made), be the saviour of cinema?
Bombing the moon
On October 9, NASA sent a missile crashing into the surface of the moon, demonstrating what was previously only hypothesised – that there is water (in the form of ice) on the moon, a major discovery with broad implications if the US decides to set up a permanent lunar base in the coming years.
The rise of the netbook – smaller, faster, cheaper
Gone are the days of expensive computers. With “cloud services” dominating the future of the way we interact electronically, the netbook, much smaller – and, crucially, cheaper – proved a big hit in 2009. Selling for less than 400 euros, netbooks sales were up 72%, compared with a paltry 5% rise of classic laptop computers.