- 24 Dec 08, 09:45 GMT
The Financial Times has dubbed this the "Year of the iPhone", deciding the launch of Apple's 3g phone was the key technology event of 2008. So I've been looking back through the archives of this blog to work out what were the other highlights of the year.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the big story was the impending victory of Blu-Ray in the battle with HD-DVD. Although HD-DVD's backers didn't formally throw in the towel until the following month, it suddenly became clear at the show that the high-def format war was over. That helped spread a warm glow of optimism in a technology industry which seemed confident it could weather any storms brewing in the global economy.
At the Mobile World Congress, all the talk was of Google's new Android platform for mobile phones. We got a first glimpse of it in the wild, and filmed some of our coverage of the event on mobiles. And proved just how useful a professional cameraman can be.
This was the month the row over Phorm really got going. Three big ISPs were thinking of using the web tracking ad-serving software, provoking outrage from privacy campaigners. We asked Sir Tim Berners-Lee for his view - on the principle of web tracking rather than Phorm itself - and he told us he would change his internet provider if it introduced such a system. As the year ends, BT is talking of going ahead with Phorm - so expect this row to continue through 2009.
The arrival of Grand Theft Auto IV was probably the biggest event of the gaming year - and one which we decided marked a new maturity for both the gaming industry and the mass media which cover it. For this launch was treated more as an artistic event than as an excuse for lots of soul-searching about violent games and their effects on the young. It has been a great year for the games business - one of the few sectors still confident it can ride out a recession.
The dullest story of the year was the interminable Microsoft/Yahoo takeover saga. It did come to life in April with the exchange of "Dear Jerry" "Dear Steve" letters between the two protagonists - one threatening all sorts of mayhem if Yahoo didn't surrender, the other pointing out that Microsoft's falling share price made its bid less attractive. But in May Mr Ballmer walked away, and Jerry Yang celebrated his victory. His shareholders weren't quite so jubilant - the year has ended with their shares worth a third of what Microsoft was offering, and Yahoo looking for a new boss.
Our tour of Broadband Britain took us from a remote village on the west coast of Scotland, where they relied on home-brew broadband to Ebbsfleet in Kent, where BT was promising 100Mbps connections through fibre. Tens of thousands of you tested your own broadband speeds - and many told us you were not happy with what you were getting. Ofcom and the government both launched reports on the prospects for next generation broadband - though it is not quite clear what part dot.life played in those decisions.
The 3g iPhone went on sale, and we gave it considerably less coverage than the original launch. But I think the FT was right about its importance because this was the moment the mobile internet came of age. The most important aspects of the phone were not its "3g" - network coverage is still a bit patchy - but the applications and the price. Apple reached beyond the early adopters, and showed a wider market just how much you could do with a phone on the move.
The Scrabulous affair was one of the more entertaining stories of the year - and one which excited plenty of comment on the blog. The legal battle between the owners of Scrabble, Hasbro and Mattel, and the Agarwalla brothers they accused of violating their copyright with their Facebook Scrabulous game also shed light on some serious issues. How far should media companies go to defend their intellectual property on the web? How much responsibility do businesses like Facebook have for what happens on their networks? And what seven-letter word can you get from these letters - UUOSFIR - to sum up the reaction of the millions who whiled away the hours at work playing the game?
This was the month when the wheels really started coming off the world's banking system. But as the skies darkened over the global economy, the technology firms - from giants like Intel to the tiniest Web 2.0 start-ups - were still insisting that they were well placed to weather the downturn. As the month ended we asked whether the party was over for technology. Just days later shares in Google, Apple and Microsoft were tumbling and venture capital firms were telling start-ups to batten down the hatches, cut their costs, and try to sit out the storm.
Cloud computing has been the hottest new phenomenon to emerge this year, though the idea of storing more and more data on an internet "cloud" has been around for ages. In late October Microsoft unveiled its Azure cloud operating system and promised online versions of some of its key products - but hedged its bets by insisting that many users would want a copy of Office on their computer as well as in the cloud. The sceptics were quick to point out that Microsoft was late to the party - both Amazon and Google have already got their heads in the clouds.
Twitter had first proved its worth as a news source earlier in the year when Tweeters started discussing the earthquake in China before it was reported by the mainstream media. But during the Mumbai terror attacks the micro-blogging service provided a constant stream of news and impressions from the city's Twitter population. That then sparked a debate about the authenticity and accuracy of the messages - and whether mainstream media organisations, including the BBC, should give space to this form of citizen journalism.
This month has seen a flurry of stories reflecting many of the themes of the year. The "zero day vulnerability" uncovered in Internet Explorer was another example of the growing concerns about security on the web. The blocking of a Wikipedia page highlighted the continuing conflict over the limits of free expression on the web. And the launch of Virgin Media's 50Mbps broadband service was a sign that Britain may at last be moving into the internet fast lane - but raised questions over whether ISPs will start charging more for high bandwidth traffic such as web video.
All of these issues will no doubt be the source of plenty more heated debate over the coming year. But for now dot.life would just like to wish a Merry Christmas to all our readers.
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