IBTimes UK looks back at the 10 stories which defined the technology landscape in 2012.

Samsung Apple Patent Wars
The patent battle between Apple and Samsung related to the iPad and Galaxy range of tablets was one of the defining moments of 2012.

Apple-Samsung go to war

It has been a landmark year for patents. We have seen countless companies take to the courtroom in order to protect their intellectual property but the headline-grabbing case was the one fought between Apple and Samsung in California.

Just one of the numerous lawsuits the companies have filed in 10 countries, the case in California saw Apple accuse Samsung of slavishly copying the iPhone and iPad, while Samsung accused Apple of infringing its wireless patents.

After hearing from 40 witnesses over more than a month, the jury concluded that Samsung had copied Apple's patents with many of its products, and would have to pay $1.05bn (£648m) in damages; furthermore, it was ruled that Samsung had copied Apple's patents on purpose.

Samsung appealed but Judge Lucy Koh refused to alter the amount of the fine. Apple also sought to have particular Samsung smartphones and tablets banned from sale in the US, but surprisingly the judge refused the application.

The battle is set to continue well into 2013.

Flame heightens cyberwar tensions.

Described as the most sophisticated piece of computer malware ever created, Flame was discovered targeting computer systems in the Middle East.

Flame was a cyber espionage tool which infected Windows PCs and was able to be controlled remotely. Flame was able to search, copy and upload files from infected PCs. It was able to take control of a PC's camera and microphone to enable those using it to see and hear what was going on around the computer.

It was even able to use Bluetooth to connect to nearby smartphones, copy the phone's address book and upload it to those in control.

While no one has claimed responsibility for creating the Flame virus, it is widely believed that the US was behind the creation of the malware, and that the same people who created the Stuxnet virus - namely the US government under its Olympic Games program - created Flame.

Flame marks a high-watermark in the growing cyber espionage battles between nation states, with 2013 likely to see the outbreak of an all-out cyber war.

Galaxy S3 and Samsung's continued dominance

While 2012 saw a lot of new smartphones and tablets, it was the launch of the Galaxy S3 by Samsung in the middle of the year which was arguably the most pivotal.

Samsung and Apple may well be battling it out in courtrooms but it is for customers' affections where the real battle is taking place. The Galaxy S3 was the first smartphone to really put it up to the iPhone as the most popular smarpthone in the world.

While Apple's iPhone 5 may have been well received and will no doubt sell in the millions, the launch of the Galaxy S3 has helped established Samsung as the world's biggest phone manufacturer.

2013 should see Samsung continue to dominate the market, with the Galaxy S4 promising to improve on this year's model.

Windows 8

Microsoft's most radical rethinking of its operating system in a long time, Windows 8 launched at the end of October, and has inspired a range of imaginative and unique laptop and PC designs.

With its touchscreen-focused Modern UI, which takes its design hints from Windows Phone 8's tiled interface, the new operating system sees a combination of traditional Windows desktop beneath a shiny new interface.

Windows 8 also saw Microsoft get into the tablet hardware market with the launch of Surface, a tablet which comes with a unique keyboard cover, and which Microsoft says shows off the best of Windows 8.

It's too early to say if Windows 8 will be a success or not, though early indications suggest sales are not all that Microsoft or the PC manufacturers would have hoped for,

Sopa blackout

January saw the internet go black in protest controversial new US online anti-privacy laws, known as Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the Protect IP Act (Pipa), which are basically slightly different versions of the same legislation.

The laws are seen as a bellwether for how the internet will be regulated in the coming years.

The laws are caused so much controversy because, as written, authorities and copyright holders would be able to force broadband providers, hosting companies, payment services and search engines to cut off websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.

On 18 January websites such as Wikipedia, Wordpress, Google, Reddit and around 7,000 other sites coordinated to go offline for 24 hours in protest.

And it worked. On 20 January, 2012, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Smith postponed plans to draft the bill: "The committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation ... The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution."

Sabu revealed

2011 was a breakout year for the online hacking collective known as Anonymous. With 50 continuous days of attacks and high-profile attacks on Sony and the FBI, Anonymous came to the attention of the general public.

In early 2012, however, it made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Hector Xavier Monsegur, better known to Anons as Sabu, was revealed as an FBI informant who was working with the authorities to help identify fellow Anonymous members.

It was a blow for the collective and led to the arrests of several high-profile members of the group, but as Anonymous told IBTimes UK in November, the group is bigger and stronger than ever.

Facebook floats

It was one of the most talked-about stories of 2012, not only in the technology world, but on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

The flotation was so big it broke the stock exchange and valued the eight-year-old company at over $100bn. However, the $38 share price the stock opened at soon fell and at one stage dipped under $20 a share.

Investors and analysts both pointed out issues with Facebook's ability to monetise its mobile offering, which now accounts for over 50 percent of visits to the social network.

Facebook has since rolled out ads on it mobile apps, but only in a limited way. There are also questions remaining of how Facebook will take advantage of its $1bn Instagram purchase - which also happened in 2012.

Google's Nexus 7 and the rise of budget tablets

Google launched the 7in Nexus 7 tablet in the middle of 2012, and while the tablet was nothing special in terms of hardware, its £159 price point was a ground-breaking feature.

At that price the Nexus 7 became more of an impulse purchase and with Google's looking to recoup the money through its Play stores which sell apps, games, videos, music and books.

The Nexus 7 has spawned a series of copycat 7in tablets, such as the Kindle Fire HD, the Barnes & Noble Nook HD and the Kobo Arc - all of which are priced at £159.

Apple also released a smaller version of the iPad, but it maintained a premium pricing at £110 more than the budget tablets.

The death throes of RIM

2011 for RIM was not a good year, but any hopes that 2012 would see an upturn in fortunes for the Canadian BlackBerry-maker were dashed as the company continued its poor performances and terrible financial results.

RIM announced its final set of results for 2012 last week, and they were indicative of the company's malaise over the past 12 months. However, a net loss of $114m doesn't quite indicate the perilous position the company is in.

The company's market share in the US has all but evaporated while its global position has fared little better, dropping from 11 percent to just 5 percent according to the latest figures from IHS iSuppli.

The company is pinning all its hopes on BlackBerry 10, the new operating system the company is launching on 30 January, along with two new smartphones running the OS. However it faces a struggle to recapture its once strong smartphone market share.

Follow the links below to read the IBTimes UK picks of the year, in:-


UK Television


Manchester United


Free apps for iPhone 5

50 Shades of Grey

World football

Sporting Heroes and Villains

England Cricket

The Newsmakers

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