The start of the second decade of the 21st century found a world with an economy frozen in the depths of recession, with tech companies struggling to stay afloat, and with the IT business facing too much supply and not enough demand. But even as the snows of the east melted, products and technologies that had started to stir in the previous year were now shaking themselves free of recession's icy grip and beginning to bloom.
Perhaps the biggest of the year's surprises was Android. "I think the biggest story of the year is the explosive growth of Google Android market share in the smartphone market," said eWEEK's John Pallatto, managing editor for news on the West Coast. "It went from virtually a standing start in late 2009 to a 19 percent market share in the third quarter of 2010."
Android, Google's mobile operating system, is loosely based on Linux and Java, and is also notable for being largely cloud based. Many of the core Google apps are cloud apps that depend on a high-speed link to Google's servers.
The dramatic growth of Android was part of a larger movement involving the consumerization of information technology. In addition to the ubiquitous Android devices, there were iPads, iPhones and other personal devices creating challenges for the IT department, which needed to support these devices while also maintaining the security of the enterprise.
"Gartner said smartphones grew 96 percent this year," said Michelle Maisto, an eWEEK senior writer who covers wireless as one of her beats. "Prices are getting lower, and that puts pressure on the carriers to get 4G networks running."
Maisto agreed that the rise of Android has been a huge event this year. "It leapt over the iPhone and RIM," she pointed out. "It's up to 25 to 26 percent market share, and a year ago no one could have predicted that. For that to have happened so fast is interesting, especially in the bad economy."
Maisto also noted that the wireless industry was showing strong growth in all areas. She noted that in addition to smartphones, there was a similar explosion in tablet use.
"Everyone is falling behind Apple," Maisto said. "I'm skeptical: I'm not sure there's any huge need for tablets, and I don't know what people are actually doing with them."