2012: The Year In Mobile Tech

2012 was a big year for a lot of us in the mobile app development industry, and indeed a big year in all of mobile tech.  Here’s a list–in no particular order–of what we at Interapt view as the most iconic events of 2012, the effects of which will likely be felt in 2013 and beyond:

Project Glass

It’s happening. After decades of countless sci-fi films, TV shows, and books depicting a world where humans connect with a “virtual world” not unlike their physical reality, the “Google X” research and development team unveiled Project Glass–prototype visors that project data about the user’s surroundings onto a Heads-Up Display (HUD), allowing users to accomplish most anything they could with a smartphone using only glances and gestures.  While Google X project development is usually shrouded in secrecy, Google quite publicly touted this project, even giving designers a look and asking the Google community for feedback on how it should function.  Will wearing them make us look like a bionic supernerd cyborg?  Probably.  Will we care about that if we get our hands on a pair?  Ha! Not. One. Bit.

PC Shipments Decline

It’s not a hot news story that tablet sales are gaining ground on the PC market—Microsoft even predicted that tablets could completely overtake PCs this year.  But when there is an overall drop in PC shipments worldwide for the first time in a decade, those figures may be worth noting as proof that these theories are becoming reality.  Anyone hesitant to acknowledge the importance of mobile web development versus desktop web now has to argue with hard data that tips the scales towards a more mobile-based future.  Perhaps there will always be a place for the PC/laptop in our everyday lives, maybe forever when it comes to business-based solutions.  But consumers will continue to connect with brands exclusively through mobile as their lives (and jobs) become more decentralized, so the livelihood of B2C companies will certainly depend on their mobile strategy now more than ever.

Facebook’s Ups and Downs

When Facebook acquired Instagram for a nice, round number of $1 billion, it finally settled the question of which of the major social nets would finally acquire the mega-popular photo-sharing app (Twitter was rumored to have offered little over half of this amount).  It also further proved that Facebook saw its success in the immediate future as directly linked with their mobile strategy.  And like Instagram, Facebook had to renew focus on native iOS and Android development rather than continuing previous efforts to focus on the HTML5 platform, which CEO Mark Zuckerburg said put the company 2 years behind.  But these were all anecdotes of the larger story of Facebook’s IPO and stock market performance throughout the year, starting with the biggest IPO flop of the decade in the spring.

You Knew We’d Mention Apple

Oh, Apple Maps.  At this point, revisiting the awesome failure of Apple’s laughably inaccurate and unintuitive map application would be so overdone, you’d send it back to the kitchen.  But it’s still worth noting as a major event in 2012, because everything about the fiasco was so not the Apple we came to know under Steve Jobs, who passed away in 2011.  Would Jobs have ever allowed Apple Maps to see the light of day?  Sure it’s possible, but highly unlikely.  Jobs had a well-known, almost dictator-like demand for perfection in his products, especially iPhone.  And he most certainly would not have issued successor Tim Cook’s apology–Jobs most likely would have seen that move as admitting weakness and failure, and would’ve lost his mind at the thought of suggesting users rely on alternative (read: competing) map applications.  Without record-breaking sales of the iPhone 5, many might see this year as the year Apple as a product began to decline.  And with recent rumors that Apple might be working on cheaper models of its iPhone, 2013 might be the year Apple continues to get further and further away from its role as a leader in design and user-experience that it held under Jobs.

Feel free to give us your thoughts on 2012 (or our take on its major tech events) in the comments!

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