December 31, 2012
2012 Technology Year In Review – How The Tablet Shaped The Year
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
2012 was supposed to be many things if you believed the predictions a year ago. It was supposed to be the year the PC made a comeback, especially with a new Windows operating system on the horizon. But instead it was truly the year of the tablet, which seemed to continue to shape numerous technology trends.
By the end of 2012, PC sales actually fell for the first time in 11 years, and tablets continue to rise.
But it wasn´t supposed to go down like this.
A year ago the tablet was supposed to see serious competition. The ultrabook — the sleek profiled laptop computers — were supposed to be the tablet killer this year, but that didn´t happen. At the 2012 International CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) numerous companies introduced the ultrabooks, but by October the forecasts were slashed, and the ultrabook market all but slammed shut. IHS iSuppli cut forecasts as shipments of the thin computers were off by more than 50 percent, while sales will only likely be down in 2013 as well.
However not every small and lean machine failed to deliver. Microsoft scored a big hit with its Surface tablet, the first device to run the new Windows RT operating system. The Surface was really a tablet, but with a keyboard that easily snapped on it was a sleek PC as well. Surface pre-orders sold out in less than week, proving that Microsoft might have known what it was doing when it introduced two mobile versions of Windows; or not.
While the Surface was a smash hit, it only scratched the proverbial surface of the computer/tablet market. Meanwhile, Microsoft Windows 8 — the new tablet-inspired OS — has been unpopular with consumers. The Windows shoppers failed to come out in droves this year. Maybe it had something to do with that missing “start button."
Microsoft was not been alone in missing the mark. Video game giant Nintendo should have had the best holiday season since 1995 — that was the last time it was alone in releasing a video game system without competition from either Sony or Microsoft. Instead Nintendo released the Wii U, the sequel to its best-selling Nintendo Wii.
Nintendo clearly saw the tablet writing on the wall and designed the experience around a tablet-like controller that could be used as a second screen in the living room, or take the game play on the go. But instead of a repeat, the Wii U was closer to an utter failure. Reviews called the system underpowered, which helped explain why some third party games didn´t run all that well.
That doesn´t mean that the system didn´t sell. It still had people lining up and the system was hard to find for the holidays. In that regard Nintendo did repeat its past strategies, but it took two years to resolve the supply chain dilemma with the Wii and it probably lost sales as a result. That is something the Big N can´t afford to do this time, so the company will need to get its act together in 2013 because there is going to be increased competition from companies that don´t just include Sony and Microsoft.
2012 wasn´t just the year of the tablet; it was also the year that video gaming shifted to tablets. This trend started back in 2010 when the iPad arrived, and arguably got a jumpstart as the iPhone had been seen as a serious handheld and mobile gaming system since it arrived in 2007. But with so many tablets in the market game developers have shifted to tablets and with it social games.
This is why in May the social game Angry Birds Space topped 50 million downloads. That´s enough to make Mario and his friends run for cover, and likely convinces other companies to consider their next move.