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Memeburn’s tech winners of 2010: Apple, Microsoft, Zynga, WikiLeaks

At times the technology stories of 2010 read like the pages of gossip magazines. Ex-HP CEO Mark Hurd’s sex scandal — slander or truth? The Social Network’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg as the evil genius archetype –accurate or simply Hollywood sensationalism? As Julian Assange and Wikileaks became water-cooler conversation and the world watched the story unfold like a soap opera, everyone had an opinion.

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It’s been an incredible year in the tech sector, and as it draws to a close it’s time to reflect on some of the definitive companies, people and products that made the world a better place.

1. Apple

Apple’s stock price increased by more than US$100 per share this year, thanks in large part to the tremendous success of the iPad which sold over 3-million units in its first three months and is estimated to reach 12-million units sold by the end of 2010. Analysts have put sales predictions at 28-million in 2011. New versions of just about every product in Apple’s arsenal were introduced with significant changes to Apple TV, while the iPhone 4 became its best selling iPhone to date in many parts of the world despite “antennagate” and “glassgate”.

2. Microsoft

It’s early days for Microsoft’s new mobile phone platform, Windows Phone 7, but it has been positively received by industry analysts and critics alike. Microsoft’s controller-free Xbox add-on, the Kinect on the other hand is already a resounding success, with over 2.5-million units sold in its first month.

Coupled with the success of search engine Bing and Windows 7 OS, Microsoft can finally let out a sigh of relief as users are weaned off the troubled Vista operating system.

3. Rovio and Zynga

Angry Birds put games maker Rovio well and truly on the map by reaching over 12-million downloads in 2010. Zynga, the makers of the popular Facebook game Farmville, also saw massive success with revenues estimated at roughly US$600-million.

4. Android

As far as smartphone platforms go, 2010 was the year of Android. It shot past BlackBerry’s OS and Apple’s iOS to become the world’s second largest mobile phone operating system, behind Nokia’s declining Symbian OS.

Smartphone makers Samsung enjoyed massive sales thanks to its Galaxy brand of smartphones and HTC, with a slew of quality Android devices including the highly acclaimed Incredible and Desire, were both big winners during 2010.

5. Amazon

Thanks to price cuts in its Kindle e-book reader and a successful launch in the UK, the Kindle and Amazon e-book store saw strong sales despite competition from the iPad.

6. Streaming Media

With Apple deciding on a streaming-only model for Apple TV, Netflix’s growing ubiquity on a deluge of set top boxes, and new hardware from Roku, Boxee, and Google, the streaming media space was set ablaze this year. Watching streaming content from the internet became easier than ever in 2010, as manufacturers started integrating Netflix and Google TV right inside television sets, negating the need for any set top boxes.

7. Social Media

Facebook managed to reach half a billion users this year and thanks to Hollywood’s “The Social Network” and huge exposure in Time Magazine and the New Yorker, everyone now thinks they know who Mark Zuckerberg is. Twitter too saw massive growth, amassing just over 150-million users this year, while social buying site Groupon received a flattering purchase offer from Google for several billion dollars.

8. WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

Maligned and praised equally, WikiLeak’s release of top secret military documents regarding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as classified cables regarding American foreign strategies across the globe created strong polarised public opinion. Many have lambasted the site’s irresponsible disregard of the consequences of full disclosure, while others have lauded Wikileaks for exposing underhanded government dealings and cover ups.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks creator, Julian Assange, became tabloid fodder as Wikileaks’ antics and Assange’s accusations of sexual misconduct caused him to become a fugitive, culminating in his voluntary arrest in London.

Part 2: Tech losers of 2010

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