Ten Events That Shook Up Tech in 2011

Steve JobsHow well were you able to keep up with the fast-moving world of technology during? Here’s my list of events made 2011 fascinating,and will continue to have ramifications as we flip the calendar into 2012.

R.I.P. Steve Jobs

The death of Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, though expected, sent shockwaves around the world. Millions paid tribute to his genius and vision while wondering if Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook could carry Jobs’ brightly burning torch. Walter Isaacson’s massive biography of Jobs became the best-selling non-fiction book of the year.

Patent Wars Take a Toll on Innovation

Throughout the year bloody battles over patents enriched lawyers both here and abroad but left the future of handheld gadgetry in flux as Apple, Google, HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others all sued each other over the use of various phone and tablet interface design, operating systems and the underlying code that drives them.

Tech Employment Bounces Back

The number of technology jobs, as counted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, inched up month by month. By the end of 2011, it appeared that overall employment in the tech industry had reached 4,068,000, a year-over-year gain of 2.1 percent and basically equivalent to the all-time high of 4.088 million, reached in June 2008.

Smartphones Help Mobilize Arab Spring Protestors

Iran. Tunisia. Egypt. Yemen. Libya. Bahrain. In every Middle Eastern location where protests and calls for change were heard, smartphones played a big role, not only to help protestors communicate but also to spread news with their built-in video and social networking features. Abuses and atrocities that might have gone unseen by the wider world were now just a click away on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. But maybe not in Syria now, where the iPhone was banned in December.

HTML5 Tightens Its Grip on the Future

All year long, the fortunes of HTML5 improved as it was increasingly seen as the future lingua franca of the Net, especially since it’s designed to run on low-powered devices such as smartphones and tablets. In December 2011 research firm Strategy Analytics forecast sales of HTML5 compatible phones will top 1 billion in 2013.

Troubling Hack Attacks Proliferate

It was a bad year for cyber attacks as mysterious hackers such as Anonymous and LulzSec wreaked havoc again and again. The victims included Fox News, British ATM networks, PBS, Sony Pictures, Nintendo, Bethesda Game Studios and others.

HP Kills Its TouchPad

Hewlett-Packard took a shot at competing with the iPad, but had little faith in its own TouchPad and dropped the product quickly. Then, its surprise, a $99 fire sale of the remaining inventory set off an iPad-like shopping frenzy as webOS fans scooped up as many TouchPads as they could carry.

Windows 8 Preview Arrives

Developers were given free access to the Windows 8 Developers Preview in September, and 3 million downloads followed. By the end of the year, however, it was clear that many of those downloads were going unused and that the Windows 7 preview three years earlier had inspired far more interest. At the same time, some developers who were using it were griping about it.

The iPhone 4S Lauches…and Siri Says Hello

iPhone fans expecting the arrival of the iPhone 5 on October 4 were let down when the new model turned out to be the iPhone 4S. Their interest perked up, however, when they found that the “S” stood for Siri, Apple’s new voice-driven personal information assistant, which proved to be a compelling addition to the phone.