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LAPTOP | December 2010
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There's nothing more challenging than attempting
to sum up a whole year in mobile tech, especially
at a time when new innovations seem to reshape
the market daily. But as 2010 comes to a close, certain trends and technologies clearly
rose to the top. Not a fan of lengthy summaries? Here's a few words that tie it all up
with a nice little bow: Android, Apple, Location, and Tablets.
Thanks to a wave of powerful new superphones, Google's Android OS surged this year
to become the most popular in the U.S., with 44 percent market share at the end of the
third quarter. At the same time, Apple unseated RIM with the most phones sold, nabbing
26 percent share. Will these two giants continue to dominate? For the near term, yes, but
I'm encouraged by the work Microsoft has done with its new Windows Phone 7 OS (full
review on p. 42). Despite the fact that this software lacks support for cut and paste and
multitasking with third-party apps, the interface is slick, and I like the way Microsoft has
leveraged some of its most popular brands (Office, Xbox Live, and Zune).
Where Microsoft is really hurting right now is with tablets, as the company finds itself
way behind both the Android camp and the hot-selling iPad in a space that's projected
to grow to 208 million units in 2014 (up from about 20 million this year). Are notebooks
dying? Hardly. In fact, Apple's latest MacBook Airs borrow some of the iPad's greatest
virtues, including instant-on capability, enhanced multitouch gestures, and support for
a new Mac App Store in the near future. That's why these two machines lead off our Best
Notebooks of the Year list (p. 58), although you'll find lots of Windows-based laptops
that excel in other ways.
As you peruse this award-winning group of notebooks, don't forget to check out our
timeline of the most important mobile computing events during 2010. Chances are you'll
be surprised by just how much happened in one year, including HP's CEO shuffle and
the fight between Adobe and Apple over Flash.
One brand that definitely blew up in '10 is Foursquare, a location-based app that's
designed to help users discover new places and share tips with friends. This service has
grown so fast that Facebook decided to add its own Places feature to its mobile app, while
Google updated its Android Maps app to support real-time tracking and a new design
for Place page reviews. To find out if Foursqaure lives up to the hype, we had one of our
intrepid staffers use the app for a couple of weeks (see p. 68) in an attempt to reap as
many real-world rewards as possible.
For a lighter take on this year in mobile tech, we present our annual Dubious Mobile
Achievement Awards (p. 15). And, as you might expect, Apple and Google dominated
this list, too. From Steve Jobs telling a disgruntled iPhone 4 owner that he was holding
his phone the wrong way to Eric Schmidt suggesting that people worried about Google's
data-sniffing Street View cars consider moving, it's easy to see why these two companies
continue to be the talk of the mobile tech world. The challenge for Microsoft, HP-Palm,
RIM, and everyone else will be to capture our attention in 2011.
Editor in Chief MARK SPOONAUER
Managing Editor ANNA ATTKISSON
Reviews Editor MICHAEL A. PROSPERO
Associate Editor SARAH SILBERT
Staff Writer SEAN LUDWIG
Editorial Intern KEVIN LEE
T.J. FINK, MICHAEL LASKY,
DANA WOLLMAN, AND STEWART WOLPIN
Online Editorial Director AVRAM PILTCH
News Editor K.T. BRADFORD
Multimedia Editor MEGHAN J. McDONOUGH
Web Content Producer KENNETH BUTLER
Art Director JEFFREY W. SASS
Print & Web DOM RINALDI
Photo Editor MATT STAUSS
Director of Production &
Creative Services MARK MORTON
IT Manager MURAT TURK
Integrated Media MATT WEINER
Regional Sales Manager ARCHER MONTAGUE
Regional Sales Manager NANCY ROSCOE
Publisher & President EDWARD D. BROWN
irector of Finance &
Business Operations LISA BRISBANE
Director of Circulation MICHAEL GERARDO
Accounting Manager JIM CRUZ
Office Manager JEANNIE MITCHELL
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Volume XXX, Issue #12, (S.C. 393) 2010 copyright.
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