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The top technology successes of 2010

2010 text in lights

As we come to the end of 2010, it’s time to reminisce over the best technology from the year that was. The Which? Tech team has joined us to run down their technology highlights, featuring the iPad and Xbox Kinect.

Some of my fellow Which? Tech members have already chastised their biggest technological disappoints of the year, but today we’re taking a more positive road.

Before we look forward to the exciting tech scheduled to meet us in 2011, what caught our eye in 2010? Me first.

Ben Stevens: Kindle’s price inspired ebook success

I was trawling through some old Which? Technology podcasts recently and ended up listening to the predictions I made at the end of 2009 for the coming year. Not only did I predict that ebook readers would sell for less than £100, but that they’d only dig their heels in once this happened. 12 months later and the Amazon Kindle can be picked up for £109. I wasn’t far off.

The device was available in the US for two years before an international version launched. And when it did it cost around £200 once import fees had been paid.

With the ground swell of tablet computers, e-readers needed to find their way – and the £100 mark (or thereabouts) has helped no end. And now that Kindles have made their way into homes, Amazon can rake in the money from ebook sales.

Matt Bath: iPad proved doubters wrong

Initial responses to Apple’s début tablet PC, the iPad, were scathing. Puffed up bloggers slammed its high price, lack of connectivity and low spec as an expensive failure waiting to happen. Best to wait, they mocked, and watch the inevitable car crash.

Only, they were wrong. Apple’s iPad has been a gob-smacking success, kicking netbooks into touch and single-handedly transforming personal computing. It’s reshaped how we tap, poke, swipe and flick our way through our daily computing and has chalked up millions of sales. Steve Jobs’ (Apple’s boss) claims of it being a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price seem less hyperbole and more understatement eight months on.

Manufacturers are desperately chucking out tablets on the tailcoats of Apple’s success, but the vast majority lack that elusive Apple secret sauce that made the iPad defy initial naysayers. Simply put, the iPad is a contender for the most successful tech product of 2010.

Jack Turner: Xbox Kinect connected with consumers

Microsoft’s camera system for the Xbox 360, Kinect, was undoubtedly one of 2010’s gaming highlights. While PlayStation Move did little more than copy Nintendo’s motion sensing controllers, Kinect took the Wii’s template for accessibility and refined it further by removing the controller – instantly making video games appealing to all.

Undoubtedly built around the casual and social gaming experience, Kinect delivered some impressive sci-fi-like tech with a great line-up of titles in its first month of release. There’s no doubt that Kinect is more than just the latest flash in the pan.

With developers working out how to get the most out of the innovative kit, we’re bound to see a lot more from Kinect in 2011 (augmented reality horror games anyone?)

Catherine West: On-demand TV set us free

Does anyone still watch TV when the schedule tells them to? Services like the ever popular BBC iPlayer and Channel 4’s 4oD have been around for awhile, but 2010 was the year that on-demand TV services really caught on. A recent survey shows that the number of UK homes watching on-demand TV has risen from 78% in 2008 to almost 90% today. The nation’s viewing habits have changed in a big way. Whether it’s on your laptop, through your TV, or even your Xbox, we all realised that there was no need to miss anything ever again.

I like the idea of TV fitting in with our own lives rather than being dictated to by the box. And there’s more to come next year with the launch of YouView and other services that work with your internet connection Virgin. Watch this space…

Al Warman: Twitter tweets success

Is Twitter a success story of 2010? Well, love it or hate it, it’s hard to argue with the numbers. More than 100 million new Twitter accounts were created this year. Even ignoring the large proportion of those who’ll never get beyond their first tweet, and those who’ll rapidly grow bored of 140-character status updates, that’s an impressive growth spurt.

The mainstream media has also jumped on Twitter, not only finding content to fill column inches and gossip pages, but using it to interact with their audiences. Programmes like BBC Question Time adopted “hashtags” (#BBCQT) to involve online comments in the studio discussion.

Although Twitter will never have the broad appeal of Facebook, its presence has infiltrated every aspect of our culture. This year’s top Twitter trends encompass both the global events that defined 2010 (the Gulf oil spill, Haiti earthquake and FIFA World Cup) and the ephemera of our existence (step forward Apple iPad, Justin Bieber and Paul the octopus). Twitter, you may not have been the success story of 2010, but you certainly helped us find out about, and interact with, the big stories of 2010.

What were your top technology successes of the past year? And don’t forget to share your technological disappointments in ‘The top technology disappointments of 2010‘.


Having given it a lot of thought, I purchased a Kindle ebook reader a couple of months ago. It certainly wins my vote for one of my ‘Best Buys’ of 2010. 🙂
The only downside in my opinion is the pricing of many ebooks. 🙁
However, there are a lot of good reads priced at under £1 and they can be downloaded immediately.

I’m not one to rush and buy the latest gadgets, so mine’s not strictly something from 2010, but I got my first smartphone (HTC Desire) a month or so ago and I’m loving it. Being able to use the internet pretty much anywhere is a complete joy, and I can catch up on Twitter/Facebook on my way home. I haven’t explored or downloaded many apps yet, so I think that’s my tech resolution for 2011!

Hi Hannah,
I also got my first smartphone this year and it is also an HTC Desire, the ‘other half’ got an HTC Mini.
I agree both open up a whole new world and rank alongside my Kindle! 🙂
Looks like we’re almost the only ones out in cyberspace at the moment as well!

Yes – shame people aren’t using their smartphones to join in, wherever they are!

fat sam says:
30 December 2010

iPhone 4 for me! smart phones for smart people 🙂

Happy New Year everyone and all the best for 2011.

I’m going to add PlayStation Move to the mix. I quite disagree with that they are simply copy of Nintendo’s controllers – it’s much more a refinement and the creation of the only serious contender for accurate motion controls that can actually replicated exactly what you’re doing. It’s the only motion controller I can see being used for traditional/hardcore video games that don’t cater to an easy to please casual audience.

Kinect’s fun and I’m enjoying seeing all the homebrew possibilities that are coming out of it, but we’ll have to see how far it goes.