2009 Year in Review: Tech News

Thanks for joining us on the 2009 Tech News
Review a look back at the year’s biggest stories. 2009 kicked off with the Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas. The headline keynote was from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer who, for
the first time, ran the show without the help of Chairman Bill Gates. Much of the presentation
focused on Windows 7 and the buzz around the OS continued through most of the year, but
we’ll get to that in just a bit. Themes and big product categories at CES this year
included connected devices, not just with each other, but also to the Internet, 3D content
and displays, portable devices like netbooks and wireless power. This year was a big year for Apple. The company
updated just about its entire line of products. It also saw the departure and return of Steve
Jobs to day to day activities after a several month long medical leave of absence. I’m very happy to be here today with you all.
As some of you know, about five months ago I had a liver transplant. I now have the liver
of a mid-20s person who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate their organs.
I am alive because of their generosity. I hope we can all be that generous. I’d like
to thank everyone in the Apple community for their concern. It means a lot. I’d like to
thank Tim Cook, and everyone at Apple who rose to the occasion. Thank you guys. Apple updated it’s iPod Nano adding a video
camera to it. Its line of computers saw the standard upgrades like bigger hard drives,
faster processors and more memory. But probably the biggest announcement of the year for the
company was the iPhone 3GS. At the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference, SVP Phil
Schiller filled in for Jobs who was on leave at the time, and announced the device. Not
long after the unveiling the phone went on sale in the US and Europe. Apple plans to
have the phone available in 80 countries by the end of 2009 and according to their most
recent quarterly report, published in October, phones were available in 64 countries. The iPhone 3GS may have been the year’s
biggest hardware announcement, but the biggest software announcement most likely goes to
Microsoft’s Windows 7. Steve Ballmer headlined the October launch event in New York City
with his usual enthusiasm. At the time the OS launched, some 72 percent of computer users
were still using Windows XP while 19 percent were using Vista. In late November, the Wall
Street Journal put sales of Windows 7 at 40 million copies in the first month, double
what Vista sales were in the same time period. In the race between Google and Microsoft,
2009 yielded some big plays from the two companies. Microsoft rebranded its Live Search as Bing
and rolled it out with significant improvements. Microsoft calls it a decision engine and claims
that it will bring back more relevant search results. It integrated it’s Cashback program,
rewarding shoppers with money off their purchases. Towards the end of the year the company improved
Bing Maps adding an application gallery that allows users to overlay maps with a variety
of information. Also this year the company introduced Internet Explorer 8 and gave a
preview of IE9. And while Microsoft released Windows 7, Google
announced that Chrome OS will be available in 2010. The OS is targeted at netbooks and
will be faster, simpler and more secure than existing operating systems, according to Google,
but it won’t be for everyone. It will only run Web-hosted applications so will be restricted
to a narrower set of applications than current operating systems. In 2008 we wondered if Microsoft would buy
Yahoo and while that still didn’t happen in 2009, the two companies agreed to work
together against a common enemy, Google. The two struck a long anticipated search deal
under which Microsoft’s Bing search engine will power Yahoo’s search site, and Yahoo
will sell premium search advertising services for both companies. Yahoo estimates that the
deal will provide an additional $275 million US dollars in annual operating cash flow.
Amazon launched two new Kindles this year, the popular e-readers that let users take
electronic books and documents on the go, all while using special e-ink technology that’s
easy on the eyes. In February it introduced the Kindle 2 that can hold 1500 books, that’s
eight times the number of books of the first Kindle, which launched in November 2007. The
Kindle DX, the largest Kindle to date, launched a few months later in May and features a 9.7
inch display. It wasn’t just Amazon with e-readers this year though. Sony also got
into the action and introduced a new model to its e-reader line, the Reader Daily. Barnes
and Noble generated hype around its Nook e-reader that includes a color display, but it won’t
be available until January 2010. The popular bit torrent file sharing site
The Pirate Bay ran into some trouble this year. In April the Stockholm district court
handed down a verdict finding the four people involved in running the site guilty of being
accessories to crimes against copyright law. They were also fined 30 million Swedish kronor
or about 4.2 million US dollars, but the convicted don’t plan to pay Well even if I had money I’d rather burn
everything I own and not even give them the final dust from the burning. Yeah, the ashes. The case is waiting to be heard in the court
of appeals which won’t happen until next year. Intel was slapped with a huge fine from the
European Commission for violating European antitrust rules. The Commission fined the
company 1.1 billion Euro or about 1.6 billion US dollars finding that the world’s biggest
chip maker harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors
out of the market for x86 processors, the most common type of computer CPU. Competition
commissioner Neelie Kroes took a hard line against the chipmaker. I would like to draw your attention to Intel’s
latest global advertising campaign which proposes Intel as the “Sponsors of Tomorrow”, well
now that they are the sponsors of the European tax payers, I would say . Their website invites
visitors to add their ‘vision of tomorrow’. Well, I can give my vision of tomorrow for
Intel here and now: “obey the law.” Intel said that it believed the decision was
wrong and that there had been absolutely zero harm to consumers. In more 2009 European Commission news, the
body accepted Microsoft’s commitments to offer browser choice putting an end to the
Commission’s antitrust investigation of the company’s position in the browser market.
Microsoft will offer European users of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 a choice screen
that will allow them to pick the browsers they want to install. In acquisitions this year HP will acquire
networking vendor 3Com in a deal valued at 2.7 billion US dollars. Announced in November,
the deal had already been approved by both companies board of directors. HP said the
deal illustrates the company’s data center strategy, which is focused on the convergence
of servers, storage, networking, management, facilities and services. In the gaming world this year Sony and Microsoft
played catch up with Nintendo and two companies both showed off motion controllers at the
annual E3 gaming conference in Los Angeles. Microsoft showed Project Natal that one ups
Nintendo by getting rid of a controller altogether. It even includes face and voice recognition.
Microsoft showed the technology later in the year at the Tokyo Game show, but even then
no details on a possible release date were available. Sony has already promised a motion
controller by the second quarter of 2010. The controllers feature glowing spheres that
the Playstation Eye can track. With motion gaming developments big in 2009, it’s apparent
that the companies have their sights set on Nintendo. We’ll see what 2010 holds. And that’s the 2009 tech news review, be
sure to check out our other year end pieces. With reporting by the global resources of
IDG I’m Nick Barber in Boston.

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