2011: The year in news


It has been a momentous year. The past 12 months have seen uprisings against oppressive regimes, a royal wedding, Bin Laden killed, Kim Jong-Il dead, the Iraq war officially over, panic on the streets of London and all other kinds of pandemonium. It's been manic to say the least.

The tech sector has been no exception. Industry big guns have fallen, CEOs have been thrown out of board rooms, there's been bitching and mega-buck acquisitions, and one of the most significant deaths the industry has ever seen.

We take a look back at what went down in the IT industry in 2011

A lotta litigation

Let's start with the most insufferably depressing theme of the year: the never-ending patent wars. Recent charts resembling many-tentacled sea creatures have appeared online highlighting who is suing who and the utter absurdity of it all.

The main target appears to be Android. It's rather obvious why, considering the operating system's stratospheric growth in 2011. The OS became too popular for its own good in 2011, attracting litigation after litigation, leaving Android looking like the bullied school child.

Yet Google wasn't involved in the most serious legal war threatening Android. Apple and Samsung spent all of 2011 trying to ban each others' products, with the iPhone maker even gaining some success along the way with a number of Galaxy products banned in Europe.

The OS became too popular for its own good in 2011, attracting litigation after litigation, leaving Android looking like the bullied school child.

Microsoft took a different route to targeting Android, deciding to sign license agreements with manufacturers using the OS. By the middle of the year it claimed to have agreements with companies responsible for producing half of all Android devices.

That hasn't stopped it suing others though, and it recently won a little skirmish with Motorola Mobility. No doubt it is hoping Windows 8 will take tablet market share away from others, meanwhile, and it would love Windows Phone 7 to have the same levels of popularity as Android.

BT even joined the mass of companies claiming Android has infringed on its IP, which also includes Oracle who are seeking billions from their court case. So much for festive cheer and good will to all men then

Google retaliated with a surprising public outburst earlier in the year, which amounted to the internet giant essentially having a whinge that the bigger boys had ganged up on Android.

As 2011 comes to a close, hundreds of patent cases are still raging on and, even though they have provided us with a modicum of mirth, they've left a bitter taste too. Not only are the cases nightmarishly complex in their scope and detail, as if Kafka had rewritten Bleak House and it had magically become reality, but ultimately they only lead to harm for businesses and consumers alike.

Amongst the consequences of these costly legal battles are lost innovation and less competition if products are banned. So thanks guys for damaging the tech industry with all your petty squabbling.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.