Tech wars continue [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) It has been a big up-and-down year as tech giants worldwide each faced their own hurdles with varying degrees of success, writes Izwan Ismail
THIS has been quite an interesting year, or rather a year of mobile devices' wars involving major players in the information technology industry.
The fight for the biggest slice of the gadgets cake started with the tablet war early in the year, when almost all consumer technology players announced their tablet products (almost all of them are based on Android) at the world's biggest information and communications technology exhibition, CES 2012 in Las Vegas, USA.
Except for Apple, all showcased their tablet devices at the show, but as the race progressed further in the year, the battle became a two-horse race between Apple (iPads) and Korean tech giant Samsung (Galaxy Tab and Notes).
Others that tried to penetrate this multi-billion dollar smart device market didn't quite make it like Apple and Samsung.
The year also saw Samsung slowly firming its grip and increasing its share in the mobile devices market.
Based on an IDC report, Apple, which still leads the tablet market by a mere percentage margin, saw its market share slip to 53.8 per cent from 56.3 per cent this year, while Android products would increase their share to 42.7 per cent from 39.8 per cent.
Total tablet shipments were up 6.7 per cent sequentially to 27.8 million units in the third quarter of the year and Samsung showed the highest growth with shipments reaching 5.1 million units in the quarter, up 115 per cent from the second quarter and up 325 per cent from the same period last year.
However, the race was not just about who had the best products, but also who had the best lawyers. Both Apple and Samsung decided to take it to court on numerous patent infringements.
The legal battles, which started in spring 2011 when Apple began litigating against Samsung on patent infringement suits, continued like wild fire this year where the two companies were embroiled in more than 50 lawsuits around the world, with billions of dollars claimed between them.
While Apple won a ruling in its favour in the US, Samsung won rulings in South Korea, Japan and the UK. The legal wars are expected to continue well into next year and 2014.
The year also saw Microsoft venturing into the tablet market. The world's largest software company announced its own tablet called Surface in June. It comes in two versions, one with Windows RT and the other with Windows 8 Pro. The Surface RT has been available in the US since late October while the Pro version is expected to enter the market early next year.
Google also debuted its Nexus tablets such as Nexus 7. Despite their strong presence in the operating system market, both Microsoft and Google have yet to prove their worthiness in the tablet market and seem unlikely to shake the positions of Apple and Samsung.
It was also another Samsung-Apple battle in the smartphone arena, specifically Samsung Galaxy S3 versus iPhone 5.
The Galaxy S3 was announced in May, four months earlier than iPhone 5 and it is still one of the most preferred smartphones in the market today.
The Korean flagship smartphone model shipped 18 million units worldwide during the third quarter of this year, accounting for 11 per cent share of all smartphones shipped globally, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
Apple's iPhone 5, meanwhile, started with about six million units shipped globally during the third quarter. Analysts however, expect iPhone 5 to outship Samsung's Galaxy S3 in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, former mobile phone giant Nokia remains elusive in the smartphone arena, although there is still a good base of followers for this Finnish brand.
The company tried to make a comeback this year with its sleek and featured-packed Windows-based Lumia phones such as the Lumia 900 and the current Windows 8-based Lumia 920, but somehow the phones failed to make an impact.
The tech wars also continued on the software front. Apple dropped Google Maps from its devices, but brought it back towards year end.
Twitter meanwhile, cut support for LinkedIn and blocked Instagram. In retaliation, Instagram cut support for Twitter cards.
On the operating system front, the year saw a significant rise in Microsoft's OS offerings with the debut of Windows 8 on Oct 30.
The new OS is said to be one the most revolutionary updates of Microsoft OS due to its touchscreen feature and built-in storage capabilities with SkyDrive.
The touchscreen feature is something of a breakthrough and is expected to change the way people do computing on desktops and notebooks. Tech vendors that have made Windows 8 products available here include Lenovo, Acer, Dell, HP and Fujitsu.
Some of the main features of Windows 8 include the new fast and fluid Start screen that gives people one-click access to the apps and content they care about most. In addition, the entirely new Internet Explorer 10 has been perfectly designed for touch.
Social media was definitely big this year.
From the US presidential election coverage to the London Olympics, Hurricane Sandy and the Middle East crisis, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram showed their powers in influencing and breaking news faster than even the top TV stations.
For example, when Sandy swept over the northwestern part of the of the US in late October, millions of people turned to Instagram to document their first-hand experiences and share them with the world. More than one million photos were uploaded on Instagram.
Facebook's disappointing IPO also made big news.
Besides that, the year saw long-time news giant Newsweek shutting down its print version to go fully online.
Indeed, 2012 has been a great year with many exciting new products and innovations.
Happy New Year!
(c) 2012 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.
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