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Google, Groupon and 3D glasses: technology in 2010

As 2010 draws to a close, here's a slightly skewed, not very chronological, look back at the technology year that was.

The technology year could be said to have begun when Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the iPad in January. Some people compared it to Moses descending from Mount Sinai with those other tablets, others scoffed at its lack of support for Flash and the absence of a USB port, and others snickered at the name. Some commentators even wondered whether there would be a demand for a product too big for a phone and too small for a computer and predicted the iPad would fail. But when it was finally released in April in the United States and later in Canada and other parts of the world, the snickering stopped. The iPad continues to be a popular success, selling millions of units, and other technology companies began working on their own tablets. It's certainly a favourite among the VO team. 2011 will see the release of several competitors to the iPad, as well as version 2 of the iPad.

People were using their iPads in many different ways — watching videos, playing games, preparing meals and reading — newspapers, magazines and books. The ebook market continued to grow, both on the iPad and on dedicated reading devices. Amazon announced this year that ebooks were outselling hardcovers and that its Kindle 3 e-reader is the company's bestselling product of all time. Ebooks account for about ten percent of all book sales, according to the Association of American Publishers. Ebook sales grew 112 percent between October 2009 and October 2010, the AAP reported.

But Amazon has plenty of competition, as Sony, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Chapters and others all introduced new or improved e-readers. In an attempt to stand out in a crowded market, the Canadian-made Kobo even introduced social media features to its e-reader — you can now earn points and prizes for starting to read a book, for reading it at a certain time of day or for reading it quickly. And, of course, you can let all your friends know about how competitive a reader you are on Facebook.

Yes, Facebook continued its relentless colonization of every aspect of our lives in 2010 as the number of Facebookers grew to over 600 million. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg even became the subject of a feature movie, The Social Network, besides being named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.

But privacy issues continued to plague Facebook, as Zuckerberger and his people wrestled with how to reconcile an application designed to share information with people's (and regulators') desire to keep some information private.

Google also faced privacy concerns in 2010, related to its Street View application. The internet search giant is facing scrutiny in several jurisdictions worldwide over the data its trucks collected while taking all those photos that make Street View so useful. And in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission called for the creation of "Do Not Track" mechanisms, asking the internet industry "to create simple, universal controls to let people tell advertisers and data brokers that they may not collect information about their Web browsing and buying habits", according to the New York Times.

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