Web technology: 5 things to watch in 2013

The evolution of the Web is a messy process.

We do so much with the Web today that it's easy to take it for granted. Banking, social networking, word processing, travel planning, education, shopping -- the Web is reaching to new domains and tightening its grip where it's already used. To match that expansion, the Web is evolving.

But the Web is built by countless individuals -- browser engineers who enable new technology, Web developers who bring that technology online, and standards group members who iron out compatibility wrinkles. With so many constituents, it's no wonder there'… Read more

Social media: The biggest stories of 2012

Social media hit new heights this year; Facebook reached 1 billion users, many people in developing nations are logging in to social networks as soon as they get Internet access, and the companies behind these digital communities are starting to make money off the sites.

The big players of social, namely Facebook and Twitter, are ubiquitous in everyday life. Mainstream news outlets cite the social networks as sources of information and commentary on live events. The Olympics, the presidential election, disasters such as Hurricane Sandy -- social media has become an integral part of how such events are recorded and … Read more

Twitter: The five biggest stories of 2012

Let's face it: Twitter is an integral part of everyday life. And while that's been true for some time, 2012 was the year the microblogging service became truly mainstream. It was a vital tool during catastrophes, it was the medium of choice for presidential candidates, and it was at the center of political turmoil around the world.

2012 was also a year of business battles for Twitter, with strife between it and Instagram ramping up slowly over the course of the year, and a standoff between Twitter and developers.

But in the end, Twitter's biggest moments of … Read more

The top 10 mobile stories of 2012 you don't want to forget

The past 12 months have seen a lot of action in the mobile market.

Google Android and its biggest device partner, Samsung, had a very good year as they surged ahead of Apple and the iPhone. Meanwhile other players in the mobile market, such as Microsoft, Nokia, and Research In Motion, still struggled to make a dent against Google and Apple. And the impending "spectrum crunch" has driven a bevvy of wheeling and dealing on the carrier side.

What will 2013 bring? I suspect Android will continue to get stronger. But we'll finally see whether a true &… Read more

Amazon: Five predictions for 2013

Amazon, the e-commerce juggernaut, will likely keep steamrolling every category it can possibly deem relevant to its business strategy. These are my top five predictions for next year.

1. Reaping what's sown Amazon has been building up its services in the last few years: opening more fulfillment centers, adding hardware as a way to spread its content, and investing in production studios to release original content. Although the company had some disappointing earnings this year, it will start to see its investment in these projects return in 2013. It's a typical cycle for Amazon: spend lots of money … Read more

Amazon: The five biggest stories of 2012

Amazon spent another year invading everyone's territory and pushing the limits of its business strategy.

The e-commerce company continued to dabble in book publishing and Web site hosting and tried its hand at video-gaming development. Anything slightly related to its business -- Amazon jumped on it.

That's not surprising given Amazon's history with identifying and mimicking both services and products to strengthen its bottom line. Here are the five biggest Amazon stories of 2012:

1. Go big on hardware or go home

Amazon beefed up its hardware selection this year, releasing three new devices to add to … Read more

Policy and privacy: Five reasons why 2012 mattered

This was the year of Internet activism with a sharp political point to it: Protests drove a stake through the heart of a Hollywood-backed digital copyright bill, helped derail a United Nations summit, and contributed to the demise of a proposed data-sharing law.

In 2012, when Internet users and companies flexed their political muscles, they realized they were stronger than they had thought. It amounted to a show of force not seen since the political wrangling over implanting copy-protection technology in PCs a decade ago, or perhaps since those blue ribbons that appeared on Web sites in the mid-1990s in … Read more

Web media: The 5 biggest stories of 2012

Fun, fun, fun!

That's what digital movies, music, and books are supposed to be about. But for the people who create and sell the stuff, it's been all crumbs, crumbs, crumbs.

The past year was another tough one for the sale of entertainment media on the Web. The irony is that as more entertainment fare is sold online, the less profitable the businesses become.

Few, if any, online music services are profitable. In Web movie distribution, download sales are dismal. Even Netflix, the Web's top video rental service, saw a slow down in the rate it added … Read more

Microsoft: Five events that shaped 2012

In hindsight, 2012 may well be the year that marks the biggest transition in Microsoft's storied corporate history.

That statement might get some argument from Microsoft watchers, who would put the debut of Windows 95 and the retiring of co-founder Bill Gates ahead of 2012 for sea change at the company. But 2012 marked the year that Microsoft decided that basing its business on software alone isn't enough to survive in the evolving world of technology.

Now, as Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer says at every opportunity, Microsoft is about devices and services. The company is building devices, … Read more

Microsoft: Five things to look for in 2013

To most tech watchers, Microsoft is a giant software maker.

But that's not how Microsoft sees itself anymore. For the past several months, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has repeated as often as he possibly can that the tech behemoth is now a devices and services company. He was a plain as he could be in the annual letter he wrote to shareholders in October.

"This is a significant shift, both in what we do and how we see ourselves -- as a devices and services company." Ballmer wrote. "It impacts how we run the company, … Read more