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2009: The Year in Tech

Dec 30, 2009, 17:47 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Harry McCracken)

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"Least Appreciated Blockbuster
Consumers appear to like the cheap little laptops known as netbooks -- during a disappointing year for PC sales, they were the only type of netbook that saw an increase in sales rather than a decline. The industry, however, seems to regret having invented the things: It keeps predicting that folks will stop buying them in favor of more potent, pricier models. Worse, both Microsoft and Intel impose limitations on computer manufacturers intended to keep netbooks from getting too powerful. Why the lack of love for such a popular product? With most models selling for under $400, it's tough for PC makers to sell them at a profit.

"Most Endangered Gizmo
For the past several years, handheld GPS navigation devices from companies such as TomTom have been among the most useful gadgets you can buy -- and with prices starting under $100, the price has been right. In 2009, however, smartphones encroached on standalone navigators like never before. An array of companies (including popular GPS-maker TomTom) released iPhone apps that provide turn-by-turn driving directions, and Verizon's Droid phone was the first to ship with a new version of Google Maps that provides full-blown navigation for free. With phone GPS getting so good, how many people will purchase and tote a separate device a year or two from now?"

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