2011 is finally in the books, so we can finally look forward to 2012 and all it has to offer. As with any other year, 2011 was a year filled with winners and losers in the tech world. We will keep things on a positive note here by reviewing some of the top tech successes for 2011, which should also give us a peek at what to expect in 2012 and beyond.
No, 2011 was not the first year in which social networks existed. After all, who could forget the MySpace craze? While it was not a new year for social networking, you could definitely say that it was a strong one for the industry. It seems as if everywhere you look Facebook and Twitter make an appearance. Mainstream media has ventured into Facebook and Twitter territory, and businesses use such sites as a way to spread their reach. This doesn’t even begin to describe the impact social networking has with the everyday average Joe. For its sheer presence alone, social networking makes the list of 2011 tech successes.
It is highly likely that Apple could have shipped its iPhone 4S without the Siri virtual assistant feature and it would have still garnered impressive sales numbers. You can thank the well-oiled Apple marketing machine and its long list of loyal customers for that success. However, Siri is one of the top tech stories of the year for the possibilities it presents for the future. It’s certainly not the first voice command product of our time, but the way in which Siri interprets natural language to give its users a helping hand is astounding. Sure, it does come with some flaws, but those can be easily overlooked for the time being. If its first edition is any indication of what we can look forward to in the future, Siri could definitely become a game changer. Siri’s introduction should open the door for even greater innovation in the virtual assistant realm from Apple’s competitors too, such as Google’s Majel product that is said to be in the works.
You probably know Google primarily for its search engine supremacy, but the company has a much wider vision in mind. The Google Chrome browser grew in popularity in 2011, and is a major factor in the browser race against Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and others. Its speed, the addition of an app store, and the good old Google name should be enough to make Chrome one of the kings of the browser arena for some time to come.
As if that was not enough, Google also dipped into the hot social networking pie with the release of Google+. Yes, it will take some time to compete with the firmly entrenched Facebook, but Google+ has had some success since its inception. With a talented team of professionals behind it, look for Google+ to make some noise as more time passes.
Online giant Amazon didn’t need much of a boost to its already healthy reputation, but it got one anyways with the release of the Kindle Fire tablet. While it does differ in ways from Apple’s immensely popular iPad, the Kindle Fire struck a note with consumers thanks to its wallet-friendly price tag. The tablet’s use of the Android platform is another plus in its favor, along with Amazon’s plethora of media content. Whether or not the Kindle Fire can put a damper on the iPad’s sales remains to be seen, but in its short time on the market, Amazon’s nifty tablet can definitely be categorized as a winner for 2011.
2011 was a solid year for Samsung, as the company made a big splash in the smartphone market, despite the seemingly omnipresent nature of Apple’s iPhone. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, Samsung was the king of global smartphone market share in the third quarter. That success should continue thanks to its popular Galaxy models that should appeal to Android fans with their nifty designs and impressive feature sets.
Kinect for Xbox 360
The release of Kinect added a whole new dimension to Microsoft’s popular Xbox 360 platform. Thanks to the device, gamers can now enjoy more of an interactive gaming experience through its camera-driven motion-sensing technology. Kinect also gave video game fans another avenue for tricking their parents into a purchase, due to the whole health/exercise aspect. Just how successful was Kinect in 2011? Guinness reported that the device surpassed the sales mark of 10 million units since its release, earning it the title of the world’s fastest selling consumer electronics device. To put the statistic into perspective, the sale of 10 million units was good enough to beat the launch numbers for the Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The appeal of the add-on device also played a major part in driving Xbox 360 sales, putting Microsoft at the top of the gaming world over competitors like the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii.
It has had its issues in 2011, but cloud computing’s importance grew in 2011 and will continue to grow into the future. Dropbox, Amazon EC2, and Microsoft Office 365 are just some examples of cloud services that will play a major role in the lives of consumers and businesses alike.
Since its introduction, the iPad has been a hit. Without a doubt, Apple’s tablet has set the bar in the tablet arena, and many competitors are doing all they can to even get a taste of the iPad’s success. The iPad 2’s name certainly helped boost its sales numbers, but the fact that it shipped with a slimmer design, camera capabilities, improved performance, and more give it a nearly unbeatable upper hand over tablets from other manufacturers.
Consumers have to be listed as one of the top tech successes for 2011. Why? Just think of all the new technology and options at their disposal. As competition grows among tech manufacturers and within the online landscape, consumers are the real winners. Luckily, it looks as if competition will only get more intense in 2012, so it should be an interesting year.
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