Top Business Tech Stories of 2009

We’ve seen a lot of things happen in 2009, some things were expected, some were not, some were shocking, and some were simply never seen or heard of before.

From the biggest Ponzi scheme ever seen in U.S. history, to the global financial credit crisis, to historic health care reform championed by the first black President of the United States.

A lot has happened in 2009, and we’ve compiled it all up for you with the top 8 topics of the entire year.

1. The Global Financial Crisis

With the near collapse of the global credit market, and unprecedented actions being taken by global leaders to stave off a global economic meltdown, the financial crisis was plastered in the media almost every day and even became a primary presidential voting issue, thereby making it the story of 2009. With billions provided in emergency bailout loans to financial intermediaries, Wall Street was still paying millions in bonuses with outstanding government loans, while millions of Americans faced forclosurer and high unemployment rates. The Obama administration later moved to block $165-million in AIG bonuses alone and later blocked bonuses from being paid while the financial intermediaries had outstanding government debt. Warren Buffet’s company Berkshire Hathaway even reported its biggest loss ever (only its second loss in its history). There were also opportunities for firms to act on, such as Disney who acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4B. Despite households losing significant amounts of money primairly from their positions in risky equity positions, some did profit (though not for too long)…Bearnie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison following a conviction for operating the biggest Ponzi scheme ever seen in U.S. history that saw $50 billion defrauded from investors.

 2. Twitter’s Explosive Growth and Mass Adoption

In 2009, Twitter saw very significant growth and mass adoption (see Compete traffic chart) as the service became more popular than ever. With companies earning millions from their Twitter presence, such as Dell Computers who earned $6.5-million from its own Twitter presence, questions remained as to how Twitter would generate sufficient revenue and whether the company would go public. Most recently, a report said Twitter would earn its first profit in 2009 following search deals with Microsoft and Google. Opponents argue the company lacks a sufficient revenue model, but either way, when was the last recent time we saw a website explode in traffic and interest most recently?

3. Google’s free GPS Navigation App

You might be asking yourself how does Google announcing the release of a free GPS turn-by-turn navigation app become one of the top stories in 2009? Well, that’s because the announcement sent shock-waves through the GPS industry, sending the stocks of GPS-navigation-makers such as TomTom crashing by almost 50-percent. Most argue they saw this coming, but the question remains, what do traditional GPS-makers do now as people will flock to the near perfect, free, and even more superior substitute? It is fair to say that GPS and mobile devices will converge, and Google couldn’t be in a better position today to capitalize with its gphone. Traditional GPS-makers such as Garmin noticed this threat, prompting Garmin to develop its own smartphone powered by Windows Mobile.

4. Tiger Woods Scandal

One of the most respected people in professional sports, Tiger Woods, shocked the world when infidelity allegations emerged. Sponsors such as AT&T, Gillette, among others, said they would limit the golfers role in marketing campaigns, while other sponsors completely dropped him. Most recently, Tiger announced he would take an indefinite break from golf and failed to appear at recent scheduled tournaments. The question now remains, what Tiger will do, given the billions at stake.

5. Microsoft Windows 7 Launch

In October, Microsoft released Windows 7, the latest Windows operating system. With significant improvements over its predecessor (Vista) such as significantly increased performance and a revamped, more intuitive user interface, Windows 7 was able to materially outsell Vista in the first opening weeks, generating billions for the software giant.

6. Mobile Madness

The mobile space saw many things take place. Arguably, the launch of the Palm Pre was the most significant, despite Apple releasing the iPhone 3G S (and on Telus and Bell in Canada), releasing iPhone OS 3.1, reaching 90,000 apps in the App Store with billions of downloads, and the recent BlackBerry downtime.

The Palm Pre really was really the top story of 2009 because the financial future of Palm really depended on the success of the Palm Pre. The Palm Pre was launched in March 2009 and offered a completely fresh Palm operating system called Palm WebOS, with a more user friendly interface that allowed users to easily pan through multiple opened applications. Despite Palm posting a massive $95-million Q3 2009 net loss, the company was able to generate billions in revenue by selling millions of units, despite fairly disappointing sales.

7. The Apple iSlate iTablet

Apple has long been rumored to be developing a tablet PC-like computer. Today, the rumors have probably reached an all-time high, with the Apple stock price rallying up about $10 on Christmas day alone, as the company is believed to launch the iSlate device by February 2010. Apple is very secretive when it comes to new products, which is why the public doesn’t really know what the device is really all about. Will it be powered by OS X, or will it be a variant of the iPhone OS and OS X? With reports indicating the iSlate could cost up to $600, the question remains whether this product could be as successful as the iPhone or not.

8. Microsoft Yahoo Search Deal

There was a lot of buzz in 2009 about possible search deals (and an outright acquisition) between Microsoft and Yahoo. Ultimately, Microsoft first offered $33 per share for Yahoo on November 5, 2008, but Yahoo founder and CEO Jerry Yang dismissed the bid, ultimately resigning about two-weeks later from shareholder pressure (replaced by Carol Bartz). Rumors continued to swirl (and still are today) over continued interest by Microsoft to acquire at least the Yahoo search business while Google raised anti-trust concerns despite controlling about 65-percent of the global online search engine market share. The Yahoo stock is now trading at only $16 per share.

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Peggy holds a Bachelor Arts degree with honors in Economics from York University in Toronto, Canada. She is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA). She has also passed Level I of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program. She is also a realtor. Write to [email protected]
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