The Verizon iPhone

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The Verizon iPhone

The year started off right with the announcement and subsequent launch of Verizons iPhone. The device is nearly identical to the iPhone 4 running on AT&Ts network. However, by bringing the smartphone to Verizons network, Apple is now able to offer its device to millions of more customers. Now, the wait is on for a Sprint or T-Mobile iPhone.

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Microsoft this year announced that it intended to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion. The move was quite a surprise, but indicates the lengths Microsoft is willing to go to compete with services such as Apples FaceTime. Skype will be integrated with the Kinect motion-gaming device, as well as Windows Phone 7. Microsofts Skype acquisition has proven to be the biggest purchase of the year so far.

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Apple iPad 2

Apples iPad 2 is in no way a groundbreaking improvement over its predecessor. However, it delivers FaceTime video-chatting support, a refined, more-mobile footprint and the same price tag as its competitor. All that combined to make the iPad 2 impossible to find on store shelves following the launch. It has also helped bolster Apples growing revenue and profits.

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RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

RIMs move into the tablet market was an important step for the company in 2011. The BlackBerry PlayBook is running a new operating system and features a 7-inch display. RIM has experienced some issues, including complaints from early adopters that the device didnt come with a native email or messaging service, but its significant nonetheless: RIM is thinking outside the smartphone market.

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Chrome OS

Google announced Chrome OS last year and promised it would launch in 2011. Recently, Google made good on that promise, saying that Chromebooks, which are netbook-like devices running Chrome OS, will be available to customers on June 15. Acer and Samsung are the first Chromebook vendor partners.

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The White iPhone

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the white iPhone last summer, he promised consumers that the device would be made available soon after the unveiling. However, after numerous delays, rumors started circulating suggesting that the device might never hit store shelves. Luckily, Apple released the white iPhone to AT&T and Verizon customers in 2011, putting those fears to rest.

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PlayStation Network

The biggest security-related story of the year so far has undoubtedly been the PlayStation Network breach. In April, malicious hackers broke into Sonys online gaming and entertainment services and stole the personal information of its users. All told, 100 million accounts were stolen. Luckily, credit card data was encrypted. Sony took the PlayStation Network down to bolster security. Sony brought the service back online in fits and starts. But Sony still has egg on its face and customers confidence in the services has likely been permanently damaged.

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Windows 8 and ARM

Microsofts upcoming operating system launch, Windows 8, has been making waves for months. The biggest news this year related to Windows 8 is that the operating system will be capable of running on ARM-based processors. Not only is that the first time Microsoft has ventured into ARM territory, but it shows just how important mobile platforms, including tablets, are to the software giants future.

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Nokia Smartphones

Speaking of Microsoft, the software giant made another big announcement earlier this year, saying that it had partnered with Nokia to make Windows Phone 7 the principal operating system on that vendors devices. The first Nokia devices running Windows Phone 7 are expected to launch next year. But until then, the relationship between Nokia and Microsoft continues to be a hot topic in the tech space.

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Googles Android platform might have been around for quite some time, but the platform has continued to make significant progress so far in 2011. For one, recent analyst reports suggest the operating system could own nearly 50 percent of the mobile OS market in the coming years, thanks to its continued growth. Moreover, Android-based tablets are starting to hit store shelves, further bolstering Googles chances of achieving that goal. Simply put, there is no bigger or more important mobile operating system on the market right now than Android.

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