It's amazing to think about how much the world has changed over the course of 2009. The United States inaugurated a new president. Much of the world struggled under an economic recession that affected enormous corporations and average citizens alike. Alien robots failed to invade the planet and turn us into their personal servants. And technology continued to evolve.
Picking the top 5 tech trends of the entire year was a difficult process. In some cases, trends we thought would take off early in the year failed to gain traction. For example, if you attended the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, you probably left Las Vegas, Nev., thinking that 3-D televisions would make an enormous impact on the marketplace. But by the end of 2009, it was clear that we're still not quite ready for 3-D TV in every home.
Some trends were predictable but not very interesting. It doesn't take a clairvoyant to guess that technology reporters, bloggers and enthusiasts will jump on the latest rumor about Apple. That might be why 2009 was the year of the Apple tablet device rumor. We waited in anticipation at every Apple event to hear an official announcement of this mythical gadget. All of that waiting was in vain.
We also saw several companies wage public battles against one another in 2009. Throughout the year, corporations like AT&T and Verizon, Apple and Psystar, and AMD and Intel waged legal battles against each other. In some cases, the companies found common ground and settled their differences. It's clear that 2009 was a good year to be a corporate lawyer. But we didn't feel that was a fun tech trend to highlight on the official list.
Instead, we've looked at the 12 months of 2009 and pinpointed 5 trends, listed in no particular order, that not only made a big impact at the time but promise to shape future events as well. Many of these trends began years ago, but 2009 marks a significant leap forward both in the public consciousness and in influence. We'll start with the smartphone.