We might already be in 2013, but 2012 is hardly in distant memory. Last year certainly proved itself to be an interesting one in the mobile space. We’ve saw quite a few hits and misses, and we’re going to recap some of the biggest stories of 2012. From wins to woes, the stories below are were some of the biggest and best.
iPhone is still a hit, of course
As if this as a surprise to anyone, Apple’s iPhone 5 became the company’s hottest selling iPhone to date. It wasn’t the biggest update of the device in the world, especially on the design front, but the iPhone 5 is still a gorgeous piece of hardware, and comes with a larger screen, faster processor, better camera, and iOS 6.
Samsung dominates mobile space
Samsung’s plan to saturate the world with multiple devices proved to be fruitful, as it has become the world’s number one smartphone maker. With the likes of the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II, Samsung has offered up some great devices this year, with hordes of other, mid-range devices as well to take them over the top. More over, the company is even more ambitious about 2013, saying it plans to sell more than half a billion phones, most of which will be smartphones.
Carving out a new market is hard to do, but that’s exactly what Samsung did with the Galaxy Note. While we wouldn’t go as far to say that phablet devices are all the rage, Samsung has proven that there is a market for such devices, and we’re beginning to see other companies release their own Galaxy Note challengers.
If you haven’t read it year, be sure to hit up our Galaxy S III review here!
It wasn’t all sunshine and puppy dogs for Samsung this year, even with the monumental success of its Galaxy line of mobile devices. Apple threw down the hammer and sued Samsung over multiple patents, spanning across many devices of Samsung’s portfolio. The ending verdict resulted in Samsung having to pay 1.049 billion dollars to Apple. The case is currently going through appeals court, while Apple is attempting to slap on millions of dollars more in fines to Samsung. Don’t expect to see much of this case finalized until we’re well into 2013.
We saw quite a few acquisitions in 2012, but two certainly stand out in our minds. It was in August of 2011 when Google announced that it would be acquiring Motorola Mobility to supercharge the Android ecosystem, and in May 2012, it finally became official. We’re still waiting to see the first devices to ship from the union of both companies, but we’ve since seen Motorola’s software begin to look more like stock Android, which no one is complaining about. If all goes according to plan, we just might see the MotoGoog Phone X debut in 2013, which should be quite the device!
We also saw Facebook acquire Instagram for a whopping 1 billion, making it the largest acquisition for the social network.
7-ish inch tablets finally take off
When Samsung debuted the first Galaxy Tab, many people found the 7 inch device wasn’t something to take seriously and were questioning whether or not there was a real market for smaller tablets. We’d seen many 7 inch devices come and go, with only the Kindle Fire gaining traction, but in 2012, Google officially entered the tablet market with the Nexus 7. Utilizing the powerful NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU, the Nexus 7 easily became one of the best Android tablets in the market. It’s $200 price point was definitely something that got people’s attention, as did the fact that it wasn’t covered up with a custom user interface like the Kindle Fire.
While Google and partners did manage to prove there was a market for 7 inch tablets, it was Apple and the iPad mini that converted those uninterested in smaller tablets.
The Nexus brand makes a name for itself
We might not be able to say that Google’s Nexus line of phones and tablet will ever truly sell an insane amount, but 2012 was the year that Google truly pushed the Nexus brand. This push began with the Nexus 7, when Google released its first ad on TV for the device. Not only offering it in a nice chunk of retailers, Google also began selling the device in the Play Store, alongside the Galaxy Nexus.
By the time October rolled around, Google announced the LG Nexus 4, HSPA+ Nexus 7, and the Samsung-made Nexus 10. All devices have been given praise from their specs to the price points, with the exception of the ill-fated Nexus Q.
Apple releases half-baked Maps, Google comes to the rescue
When Apple debuted iOS 6, it announced that it would be removing Google Maps from its operating system in favor of a home-grown offering. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out so well for the Cupertino company, as Apple Maps was released littered with bugs and inaccuracies. Shortly afterwards, the Apple Maps team manager was let go. The flaws within the application itself are apparently so bad that police in Australia even deemed Apple Maps as “potentially life-threatening”. Not good for one of the most popular companies in the world.
Not long after issues began arising around Apple Maps, rumors of Google releasing its own Maps application into the App Store began churning. Sure enough, on December 12th, Google Maps for iOS was released into the Apple App Store and quickly became the number one free application. Passing 10 million downloads in just 48 hours, Google Maps will get you where you need to go until Apple updates its own mapping solution.
Microsoft Surface fails to make a splash
In order to streamline the experience of its desktop and mobile solutions, Microsoft released both Window 8 and Windows Phone 8 this year. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem go be the hit that the company was hoping it to be. Microsoft Surface tablets are definitely nice products, but between the price point and the competition, Surface isn’t what we hoped it would be.
Launching alongside Surface was the official debut of Windows Phone 8. We saw some pretty great handsets ship late this year, like the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 920. Windows Phone has never been better, but it will likely take more time for the mobile OS to get a lot of traction. That will likely change in 2013.
RIM has yet to save its sinking ship with BlackBerry 10
2012 was not the year for RIM, even though I’m sure the company had originally planned for it to be. Quarterly earnings reports became like an endless ritual of telling your mom you failed your big math exam as an 11-year-old.
Then RIM was supposed to fully take the wraps off of its saving grace, the BlackBerry 10 OS, and failed to deliver there too. The release was delayed until 2013. Some screenshots have floated around and it looks like a fine operating system, but whether it’s good enough to land a number three spot in market share ahead of Windows Phone remains to be seen. And let’s face it, Android and iOS are here to stay. RIM and the BlackBerry may not be.
Nokia fakes the sample video footage from its flagship Lumia 920 phone
Nokia launched the Lumia 920 in September of last year and touted the camera phone’s awesome image stabilization technology. A high-profile advertisement showcased the phone’s ability to shoot rock solid video while riding a bike. The demonstration looked fantastic until The Verge noticed a cameraman in the background of the clip. Nokia later apologized and revealed that some of its footage was “representative” of what you would expect from the Lumia 920 and not actual footage from the phone. This black mark didn’t affect the eventual launch of the phone, which debuted on AT&T here in the US with decent media reviews, but only lukewarm interest from customers.
LTE goes mainstream in the US
2012 was the year that LTE transitioned from a promising technology to a must-have feature for smartphone owners. All the major smartphones now include LTE and those that don’t, like the Nexus 4, are chastised for missing this now critical connectivity option.
Want proof that LTE is the shizzle? All you have to do is look at LTE growth in the US over the past year. Verizon started and ended the year as the top LTE carrier in the US growing from 195 markets in January 2012 to an impressive 470 markets in December 2012. By the end of the year, Verizon covered over 250 million consumers with LTE. AT&T also vastly increased its LTE network during the past year. The carrier kicked off 2012 with a meager 26 markets that covered 74 million consumers. Twelve months later, AT&T ended the year with a whopping 103 markets that covered 150 million consumers.
Number three Sprint used 2012 to launch its LTE network in July 2012. The carrier has been steadily rolling out LTE, ending the year with a footprint that blankets 49 markets with LTE. T-Mobile doesn’t get the LTE nod just yet as the carrier is waiting until 2013 to roll its version of LTE.
Oh yeah, the world didn’t end
The Mayans might have been wrong about the end of the world, but to finish up our top stories of 2012, be sure you take a look at our APPocalypse Survival Guide! We had a great time writing it!
There you have it, folks. There were many more memorable stories from 2012, so feel free to give us your list in the comments below!