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10 Most Important Technology Stories Of 2012

The year is drawing to a close and it’s a good time to reflect on the more important technology, hardware, software and news stories of 2012. It’s been something of a mixed bag, from financial news, to hardware releases, to a failing smartphone giant. We saw lots of new stuff, litigation and involvement from The Law. More than that though, one thing is sure to be quickly forgotten about 2012: The Mayans prognostication skills. Here, in no particular order, are the 1 most important technology news stories of 2012.

1. iPhone 5 / iPad Mini

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The incredible demand for Apple’s next smartphone was eventually sated on September 12, 2012 when Apple announced the iPhone 5. Demand was so great, the Apple began seeing sales of previous iPhone’s dropping in anticipation on the new arrival. Released on November 2, 2012, this new, smaller iPad would garner some hate: “Steve Jobs would never have approved” and a great deal of love: “This will become the most popular iPad of the entire lineup”. For the most part, prognosticators were right on with the size, features and announcement date – leaving the actual announcement a very anti-climactic affair. The iPad Mini made allot of people talk this this year about Apple’s products and motivations.

2. Facebook’s IPO

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The world of fiance is not really a focus in technology; but, on May 18, 2012 the world took notice of the billion-user strong Facebook as it’s Initial Public Offering was set at $38. Since then, the stock has generally struggled to maintain that price and currently sits somewhere around $26 at the time of writing. In other news by Facebook, they acquired the photo sharing site Instagram for a reported $1 billion.

3. Windows 8

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Ever since the first screenshot of what Windows 8’s Metro interface would become, was released – many have been calling this a serious mis-step on the part of Microsoft. I’m also in that category, but it certainly didn’t have to happen this way. On October 26th, 2012, Microsoft unleashed it’s newest version of Windows to the masses. While it will likely be considered a success by anyone looking at the pure numbers of sold copies – Microsoft surely knows few are running out to buy Windows 8.

4. SOPA stopped

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The Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA) is an American bill introduced by Representative Lamar S. Smith that intended to give sweeping powers to law enforcement for combating the theft of intellectual property (piracy). In a massive show of opposition all over the Internet (and the World), legislators took notice and had difficulty passing the bill. In early 2012, SOPA was declared dead by many.

5. Megaupload Shut Down

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One of the biggest file locker services on the internet, Megaupload was forcefully shut down in January 2012 by law enforcement officials. Seizing nearly $50 million in assets and taking offline one of the top 50 websites on the Internet. The result included various changes and closures of other file lockers and a lengthy criminal case. Later in the year, the leader of Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, vowed to release a new service named simply Mega. As you might imagine, the MPAA declared this a massive success.

6. Viral Video

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It’s certainly not news that media would go viral, but some of the more noteworthy viral events of 2012 were the Kony 2012 campaign in May of 2012 and Psy’s Gangnam Style becoming the first YouTube video to get 1 billion views in December. It seems clear that the short-form video popularized by MTV and musicians is finding new life as viral clips on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. I wonder if anyone actually remembers when MTV played music videos?

7. RIM falls harder

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By the end of 2012, more than 120 customers were evaluating Blackberry 10 devices. Research In Motion (RIM) needs a major hit in early 2013 when it’s new devices hit the market. During 2012, RIMs stock was falling or stagnant, which essentially mirrored everything RIM-Related. At the end of 2012, a Blackberry Playbook tablet could be had for an astoundingly low $49.99 (initially price over $400).

8. SAMBA 4.0 released

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In December 2012, SAMBA released the first freely available Active Directory authentication server for Linux and UNIX. This is great news for those looking to find better (and more lightweight) options for running Microsoft’s Active Directory  services. The new 4.0 version is available at SAMBA’s website.

9. 3D Printing goes mainstream

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With Staples announcing its intention to offer 3D printing services later in 2012, the technology that was once for enthusiasts started to hit the mainstream. With prices for 3D printers falling fast (a little over $2,000), we’re about to see an explosion of 3D printed stuff from dishes to kick knacks, to vinyl records. Next year could see a list Christmas gifts entirely 3D printed.

10. Privacy, Privacy, Privacy

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The debate over what was private, what shouldn’t have been private and how much we we should make private raged on all year in 2012. A popular iOS app named Path misused contact information,  Instagram created waves with a new terms of services that maybe let them sell your photos, and Facebook (always a lightning rod for privacy issues) had a small internal problem when Randi Zuckerberg’s photos mistakenly went public. The question on many people’s mind in 2012 seems to have been how best to manage our public personas and what part of that should be private.

Years after 2012, I wonder what we’ll think about looking back? Will this be the year when 7-inch tablets became viable (and the de-facto standard size)? Will this be the year that 3D printing garnered the kind of attention it needed to begin mass adoption? We may all look back and think this was the beginning of the new American Idol: YouTube plays. Whatever it is, 2012 was a great and interesting year for all things related to technology. We look forward to what’s next in 2013 with Kim Dotcom’s Mega project, Google’s Glass and the ever-present struggle for Facebook to make money of it’s users.