Top wireless and mobile tech stories of 2010

The year in wireless networks and mobility started with a bang at CES 2010 in Las Vegas and the pace has only accelerated, with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Verizon and the rest one-upping each other seemingly every other day. Here’s a recap of the year’s top stories, as covered by Network World and its sister publications within IDG:


AT&T branches out beyond the iPhone: The carrier announced plans for its first phones based on Google Android as well as plans for Palm WebOS-based smartphones.

Google Nexus One debuts: Yes, Google really is selling its own Android-based touchscreen smartphone, though technically it is manufactured by HTC. The phone was welcomed with mostly favorable reviews, though sales hadn’t exactly skyrocketed during the first third of the year.

Apple, HP and Microsoft bring you the Year of the Tablet: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used his CES keynote address to show off three Windows 7 tablet computers, including the HP Slate that during the spring of 2010 became the center of speculation that HP might ditch Windows 7 on the device and go with WebOS instead. During CES some wondered why Ballmer didn’t discuss the rumored Microsoft Courier tablet, but by April that was clear: Microsoft confirmed the project had been axed. Separately, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPad tablet computer, more than 1 million of which were sold in less than a month.

Lawsuits and more lawsuits: The family of author Philip K. Dick sued Google over its use of the names “Android” and “Nexus One”; Kodak filed suit with the U.S. International Trade Commission against Apple and RIM for allegedly infringing on patents related to digital imaging technology; and patent litigation between Motorola and RIM heated up in January, with Motorola filing a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission alleging that RIM engages in unfair trade practices by importing and selling products that infringe five Motorola patents. Nokia and Apple also were at each other’s throats in the courtroom.


Symbian goes open source: Symbian completed the process of open sourcing its entire code base four months in advance of its June deadline, a process set in motion by Nokia’sbuyout of Symbian in 2008. This sets up a battle vs. open source competitor Android.

Mobile operators unite: AT&T, Verizon and a slew of international carriers join forces via the Wholesale Applications Community in an effort to deliver an open marketplace for mobile applications — and a competitor to Apple’s App Store. But can they really all get along?

Nokia, Intel merge their mobile operating systems: Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo come together in a Linux-based mobile operating system for everything from smartphones to netbooks.

Microsoft airs Windows Phone 7: Microsoft gives mobile networking one more try with the introduction of Windows Phone 7 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the company’s radically redesigned follow-on to Windows Mobile. One interesting twist with Windows Phone 7 is that no native apps will run on the new operating system. 

Apple bans overly sexual content from iPhone App Store: But just what constitutes smut has some developers up in arms over Apple’s rule change.


Smartphone war of words heats up: XML co-invetor Tim Bray leaves Oracle/Sun for Google and slams Apple’s “Disney-fied walled garden” approach to the market. Apple CEO Steve Jobs, meanwhile, takes shots at Google for mimicking the iPhone with its smartphone technology. This followed the start of Jobs’ verbal sparring with Adobe regarding his issues with Flash.  

Sprint intros first WiMAX phone: Sprint grabbed attention during the CTIA Wireless event when it introduced the HTC EVO 4G, a phone that will run on the carrier’s WiMAX network.

Apple begins selling iPad: The iPad went on sale at stores on April 3 and less than a month later, Jobs boasted that more than 1 million had been sold. Not even the iPhone could match that.

Microsoft unveils Kin phones:Rumors of Microsoft’s “Pink” phones had been swirling for months in the blogosphere and the company finally in March revealed that its Kin phones, designed for the young, social networking crowd.

WiMAX 2 gets a boost: Intel joins forces with companies including Samsung and Motorola to develop the next generation of WiMAX mobile broadband technology, which will provide a speed boost in 4G wireless data transfers. The companies have joined a new group, theWiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative, which aims to accelerate the development of standards and devices surrounding WiMAX 2 technology.

Apple iPhone 4.0 software previewed: Apple surprises some with a number of enterprise-friendly features in the latest iPhone OS, including encryption of e-mail and attachments. The operating system will also support multitasking, a key missing ingredient on iPhones up until now.

Apple iPhone-Gizmodo controversy: Gizmodo revealed pictures and details of an iPhone 4G prototype, having obtained the phone from someone who found it at a bar after an Apple employee left it there by mistake. Apple wasn’t happy, demanded the phone back and then the police got involved, creating an ugly and fascinating story that intertwined technology, ethics and intrigue. This story was so hot that even Shakespeare rose from the grave to chime in.  


HP buying Palm: The wheels had been coming off Palm for some time, including bad financials and the loss of key technical people. So HP’s $1.2 billion acquisition offer had to be seen as a godsend by Palm, and its customers seem non too unhappy either at the prospects of a much sounder company giving the mobile vendor a potential boost. Some speculate HP will have big plans for Palm’s WebOS, which could give HP strong technology with which to tackle the tablet computer market.  

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