Don’t start that 2013 countdown clock just yet! We are back from our holiday break to bring you this enormous, in-depth review of the biggest tech stories of 2013, and to start looking ahead to what we might expect in the coming new year.
But first we touch on the biggest tech story of the past two weeks: Target’s major security breach of 40M+ credit and debit cards, including PIN numbers. It may not be the biggest security breach ever, but its timing during the holidays has wreaked havoc with millions of consumers, and we discuss the takeaways from this news.
We then present our list of the top ten tech stories of 2013:
#1: ROCK in the NSA
Our most-frequently revisited and most groundbreaking story of 2013! And the hits keep on coming. We’ve learned that a security firm made it easier for the NSA to crack encryption, and we’ve seen federal judges make contradictory rulings on NSA phone tapping. Meanwhile, Edward Snowden declares “mission accomplished” in a new interview, while 60 Minutes airs an NSA puff piece. Still, with all the crazy stuff that’s happened this past year, our favorite moment still goes to this bone-headed quote by Representative Mike Rogers.
#2: Apple’s Failure to Fail
Although lots of media outlets thought that Apple had no more innovation left in them, they churned out another very successful year. One blog thinks that media critics had it in for Apple, but whether that’s true or not, we still loved Tim Cook’s best moment of the year.
#3: Major Website Hacks
The New York Times got hacked, Twitter got hacked, Apple got hacked, and then they got hacked again. Plus millions of social media passwords were stolen, and that’s just the cream of the hacking crop this year. 2013 was a banner year for nefarious hackers.
#4: Console Wars
The judgement appears to be that Sony’s PS4 won the console wars, but Xbox One still put up quite a fight.
#5: Microsoft Acquires Nokia, Dismisses Ballmer
There’s a lot Microsoft didn’t get right this year, but their biggest moves are what will position them for 2014. Buying out Nokia puts them in control of a major cell phone manufacturer (though it may face a few hurdles in China), and Steve Ballmer will leave next year, to the delight of Microsoft’s stockholders.
#6: Electronics on Planes
You can now use most portable electronics gate-to-gate on planes, though making cell phone calls on planes still seems unlikely.
#7: Wearable tech
Google Glass went into the wild this year, though many questions remain about its viability when it hits shelves as a product next year. But smartwatches will be a big area of interest in 2014, following the release of a few early models this past year.
#8: Twitter IPO
Twitter went public. It didn’t tank, unlike Facebook’s IPO.
Bitcoin went mainstream-ish this year. Or at least, mainstream enough for Paul Krugman to write about the viability of Bitcoin. And even for some New York City merchants to accept Bitcoin. Though the biggest story of the year saw the Silk Road website be taken down by the FBI. So, who knows how much value Bitcoin will continue to hold in 2014. Or tomorrow, for that matter.
#10: Healthcare.gov Launch
It’s rare that a website failure is a major national news story. HealthCare.gov continues to have some problems, like this wallop of a failure in Iowa, but the signup numbers are finally starting to improve.
Word of the Year
Selfie is the word of the year for 2013. Deal with it. We’re still trying to figure out how.
Finally, for our final Bytes of the Week for 2013, Douglas shares his impressions of the Final Cut Pro X 10.1 update, and Josh comments on the story of Justine Sacco and rants on the emergence of online vigilantism via social media.
Have a very Happy New Year! See you in 2014!