5 companies that redefined the IT landscape in 2012

by Darinia Khongwir    Dec 28, 2012

SKD
There have been many technologies, concepts and companies that got the world buzzing with excitement this year. In the technology front, all IT enterprises and analysis firms could not stop raving about Cloud and Big data. It got even more serious as more enterprises wanted to enter the market and give the technology a go.
As for IT enterprises Apple and Samsung were the clear favourite. Everything the two did was lapped up voraciously by the media and companies alike. They are indeed the poster boys IT technology of 2012. CXOtoday looks at some the companies who were also in the news for all the right reasons this year.

Apple
The world is busy gobbling up Apples. So much so that Apple flagship products - iPhones and iPads – have become a staple diet for millions around the world and can’t wait to devour more with the launch of the iPad 5 early next year. Since the launch of its iPhone series, the world has been clamouring to possess the latest models. Before the launch of the iPhone 5, it was reported that in many cities in the US, eager customers slept for days in front of stores ahead of its launch. Since its launch in September, Apple’s revenues in Q4 hiked up by 24%.
Apple’s revenues garnered from its mobile products rose 56 percent to $17.13 billion, making up 48 percent of the company’s total revenue. It sold 26.9 million iPhones, 58 percent more than a year earlier.
According to Apple, its net income was $8.22 billion, or $8.67 a share. It was $6.62 billion and $7.05 a share, a year ago. The revenues for year rose 27 percent to $35.97 billion, and revenue for the full fiscal year was $156.5 billion. Simply put, Apple’s revenue for the year exceeded that of Microsoft, Google and Facebook combined.
Apple also won a landmark ruling in favour for the pinch-and-zoom feature against Samsung. This has led to market speculation as to how technology and innovation will move forward.
It does not get any hotter than that. Many analysts also tout Apple to be the first trillion dollar company in the next fiscal year. Despite taking a pay cut this year, Tim Cook will have to do a lot if he wants to retain those numbers. With the launch of the iPad 5 next year, it remains to be seen how others will keep up.

Samsung
The Korean company has come a long way from making home appliances. Indeed, hardly anybody would have envisioned that it will be a market leader in the smartphone and tablet space. But because it was quick on its feet, Samsung now is way ahead of its former nemesis like Nokia and Blackberry.
Over the past one year, Samsung has released a slew ultra-chic smartphones and tablets including the Galaxy Tab 2 310 (May 2012) and Galaxy S III. According to Samsung, it is expected to ship over 500 million mobile devices globally in 2013. Also, out of these, 350 million are expected to be smartphones.
The South Korean company said it has sold more than 10 million Galaxy devices in the Indian market since the launch of the first Galaxy device, ‘Galaxy S’, in June 2010 and it has maintained top position in 3Q12 with 21.8% market share based on shipments.
According to reports Samsung Electronics recorded quarterly profit of 8.1 trillion South Korean won, nearly double the figure of last year, as strong sales of high-end televisions and Galaxy smartphones. Most analysts, however, expect a run of four record quarters — the most recent worth $7.3 billion.
A week ago, Samsung has also completed talks with the state government of Texas where it plans to invest $3.9 billion to expand its system-chip production lines. And another spot of good news, Samsung claims that by 2013, all its smartphones will be bendable and unbreakable. This certainly bodes well for all those butter finger owners out there.
On the silver jubilee of Samsung’s chairman, Lee Kun hee, his song, Jay Y. Lee, 44, was promoted to the post of vice chairman – a move that will make him next in line to occupy the high seat.

Google
This is one company that has not been going wrong for many years now. With the launch of the Google Nexus 4 and Google Nexus 7, it looks like it will continue to be a big contender in the market.
Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, citing a research by Gartner, said that Google’s Android had secured 72 percent of the global smartphone market compared with Apple’s 14 percent.
The Internet search engine is also expected to remain the top player in the market for the foreseeable future, with revenue reaching $6.33 billion in 2014, as eMarketer projected. Google’s mobile ad revenues will increase roughly 84 percent in 2013 to reach $3.98 billion.
Google Inc. is also working with recently-acquired Motorola on a handset codenamed “X-phone”, aimed at grabbing market share from Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the Wall Street Journal said.

Facebook
It has been one big year for social networking giant Facebook. It started off the year by quietly snapping up Instagram from Kevin Systrom for $1 billion leaving Twitter fuming. After its acquisition, Instagram became an overnight success as Twitter deliberately blocks Instagram users from posting pictures on the microblogging site.
In May, Facebook also went public after staving off the decision for more than five years. It was one of the biggest IPOs in technology and internet history with a peak market capitalisation of $104 billion. However, the stock lost over a quarter of its value in less than a month and less than half of its IPO value in three months.
However, things started looking up when its founder Mark Zuckerberg announced in October that there were more than 1 billion active users. Furthermore, Facebook Q3 results revealed that its mobile advertising is rather successful with eMarketer projecting it at $339.3 million in 2012 and to rise to $851.4 million in 2013.
Facebook posted third quarter revenue of $1.26 billion, up nearly seven percent from its Q2 2012 revenue of $1.18 billion and up 32 percent from the $954 million in revenue it posted in the third quarter of 2011, before it went public.
This year, Facebook has also launched numerous new apps such as Facebook Camera, Poke and a revamped Android and iOS app.

Amazon
Amazon wants to be the one place where you buy everything. And quite naturally it was voted as the best website for online shopping this holiday season. The Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet was also one the hottest selling items this year subsequently, making E L James, the author of 50 Shades of Grey, an overnight sensation.
Amazon is one of the biggest players in online services, hosting data storage and computation for hundreds of companies, including Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest. Amazon’s cloud service has since multiplied and is expected to bring in about $1 billion to the company this year.
The only downer was the Netflix outage over Christmas which left over 1 million users in the U.S. fuming at Amazon for it.

No time to get cocky
Apple – In Asia there weren’t long queues for iPhone 5, which shows that the initial excitement had died down a bit since all products look alike. The Apple maps app was one of the biggest disasters of the year. The app was so bad that within months of testing it out, many iPhone users went back to Google maps with as many as 10 million downloads in under 48 hours. Therefore, this is no time for Apple to sit back and rest on its laurels lest it goes the Nokia. It cannot afford to get overconfident since there is no Steve Jobs left to fish them out of murky waters.

Samsung - It is desperate to get customers interested in its Bada OS but has failed to do so. If it has to compete with Apple it will have to bring products like Apple with its own software and hardware. Also, after losing out to Apple on the pinch-and-zoom patent, Samsung will be forced to have another relook at its R&D.

Google: Not wanting to be left out of the smartphone and tablet race, they too want went the Apple way with the Motorola acquisition. But the search engine giant still has a long way to go to prove itself in that arena. Google’s Nexus Q, a media-streaming orb also received a lot of admiration when it was first demoed at the Google conference in June. However, due to its high pricing and lack of functionality, it found no takers in the end. Google quickly pulled the plug on the project and it never saw the light of day again. Therefore, it would be wise for Google to not be overenthusiastic in its attempts to jump into the bandwagon else it would only lose out in the end.

Facebook – Instagram’s decision to change its privacy policies earlier last week sent the whole world in a tizzy, with many threatening to unsubscribe. It quickly backpedalled on its decision. With the whole world watching every move it makes, Facebook has little or no room to make mistakes. It did once before too with the Facebook Camera, which nobody thought much of as it was a copy of Instagram. Also Facebook Poke is not seeing too much uptake and it may disappear without a trace as well.

Amazon – It needs to improve on its Cloud services if it wants to be a major contender in this space next year. It also needs revamp its portfolio and diversify into other areas. Many thought it would acquire ARM but industry insiders say the deal never went through. After rising from the ashes, Amazon will have to pull up its socks to stay on top.