THE WRAP: The year that was

It was a year that began in a downturn and finished in recession.

As went the year, as went many of the industry leaders.

After its sixth successive quarterly loss, Alcatel-Lucent offloaded CEO Pat Russo and chairman Serge Tchuruk, the architects of its ill-fated merger. New chief Ben Verwaayen unveiled a rescue plan with cuts to 6,000 jobs.

Nortel, who admitted seeking advice on bankruptcy protection, axed 3,300 positions. HP chopped 25,000, BT 10,000 and Sun 6,000.

Barely 18 months after unleashing the unloved Vista OS, Microsoft resurrected the Windows brand, promising to launch its next OS as early as 2010.

For much of the year, Microsoft pursued Yahoo with a generous $45 billion offer. Yahoo turned it down and finished the year without a CEO, its stock 60% off its year-high and facing shareholder lawsuits.

Yahoo's attempted advertising tie-up with Google fell foul of regulators.

Activist investor Carl Icahn won three seats on the board. While rivals stumbled, Google strode ahead. It launched an open source browser, complete with comic book manual. It invested in a LEOSAT and a trans-Pacific cable. It offered a health information service and voice recognition for mobile. It tracked the path of flu outbreaks. It gave tips on how to solve the energy crisis. It endorsed Barack Obama and opposed the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8.

Google had its Vista moment too, with a memorable glitch in the first Android phone that turned the SMS text box into a command line.

It was year of security scares. ISPs rushed to close off a critical DNS that could have allowed fraudsters to hijack web addresses. Microsoft issued an emergency patch for a serious flaw in Explorer.

Networking problems hit US flights. An onboard navigation system caused a Qantas plane to nosedive. A worm stowed away on laptops in the International Space Station.

US authorities arrested the 'Herbal King' spam gang, with no noticeable impact on email traffic. But the volume of spam fell 70% after ISPs pulled the plug on a spam-friendly web hosting company, McColo.

Gartner warned that ICTs emitted almost as much carbon as the airlines. Only 3% of people recycle their mobile phones, according to a Nokia survey.

Apple launched the 3G iPhone and overtook RIM as the biggest-selling smartphone in Q3. The iPhone came to Asia. Operators reported higher mobile data sales, but lower profits thanks to handset subsidies.

iPhone users downloaded 60 million applications from the new apps store in the first month. Apple removed one app, called 'I Am Rich', which charged $1,000 to show just a glowing ruby.

Bill Gates formally bid farewell to Microsoft to spend time on his foundation.

Internet traffic grew 53% and voice traffic rose 12%, according to TeleGeography.

China restructured its telecom carriers and launched a new IT and comms ministry.

 

Its online population overtook that of the US, topping 253 million internet users in June.

Beijing Olympics organizers blocked and then unblocked access to sensitive websites for the 25,000 journalists covering the event. The blue screen of death made an unscheduled appearance at the opening ceremony.

Microsoft blacked the screens of Chinese PCs using pirate versions of Windows, provoking a storm of protest.

Chinese spooks were found to be monitoring the conversations of Skype IM conversations. Skype execs said they were not aware.

Telekom Malaysia won a $3.4 billion national broadband tender, one-fifth paid for by taxpayers. SingTel and partners won the Singapore tender, with S$750 million from the government.

After months of squabbling, the Australian government threw Telstra out of its next-gen tender.

Nokia acquired location firm Navteq for $8.1 billion. Brocade ponied up $3 billion for Foundry. Samsung tried to buy SanDisk, but gave up.

Nokia bought out Symbian for $410 million and turned it open-source to compete against Android.

Qualcomm and Nokia settled their patent dispute. Bangladesh telco Grameenphone was fined $36.5 million for offering a VoIP service.

And a US startup began selling a micro-generator that would enable cellphone users to convert walking, running and other human movement into talk-time.   
 

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