This year saw endless battles in the smartphone arena as well as more corporate trauma than you could fit in a Gordon Gecko story. Who hit the highs as the gloves came off in the battle royale of mobile sales? We take a look at the stories that caused stocks to surge and plummet, users to throw their sets into the river and rush to the stores to upgrade, plus those human interest pieces that make the world seem a better place.


10. The iPredictable Phone

Let's get the obvious contender out the way first. Thanks to a drunken escapade, Apple's iPhone 4 was common public knowledge by the time of its launch back in June. Still, with a corking 960x640 pixel display, a front camera for FaceTime calls, a gyroscopic sensor and more power, it offered a big leap in performance, as Steve Jobs promised.

Plus, you could still do the odd phone call on it. Apparently all iPhone 5 testers will have the device slaved to their owner via a radiolink bomb and if they are separated by more than 20 feet, boom! As for the reception issue, it at least taught Apple that when you're at the top of mountain, the press will throw any molehill they can get at you.

9. When Windows Came Calling

Windows Phone 7 is, it was generally agreed, Microsoft's all-in hand at the last chance saloon's mobile table. Fortunately, in the previews up to release, it seemed to have some pretty good cards with a unique interface, lots of heavy-hitting partners and the power of Microsoft's Office platform behind it.

But, the world is moving at such a pace that few seem overly worried about Microsoft Office compatibility these days. And, is that interface cool or quirky? While it looked like a lackluster start to sales, it is very early days for the WP7 family. If a sizable section of industry does decide to migrate to WP7 devices, it won't be for some time and, in the world of long phone contracts, it'll be a while before we really know how WP7 is doing.

8. Giving it the Bird

And now for something completely different. The must-have app for any mobile brand this year was.... a game where you throw birds at pigs! Millions of Android users downloaded Angry Birds as soon as it hit the store, it was the biggest selling app of year for the iPhone and is in demand on every other platform. So popular are these creatures, they are now available as Plushy toys too.

The face of mobile in 2010 isn't Steve Jobs, but a furious feathered friend

This proves that a) all those executives demanding new smartphones only want to play Angry Birds and b) a good idea that is executed well can make you a fortune in the mobile markets. So, what's your plan for gaming success? And no you can't have Hooligan Hedgehogs because that's mine!

7. Since When Did Updates Become Events?

I'm a little confused on this one. Since when did something that fixed an issue with your phone become something to celebrate? iOS 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, Android 2.1, 2.2 Froyo, 2.3 Gingerbread and Windows Phone 7 updates planned for next year are getting the same level of attention as a four-member The Beatles reunion gig would.

Sure, I like the idea of new features that these updates often bring, but I'm a little concerned that one day we will have to run around waving our phones like pom-poms in a Flash Mob to actually get hold of them.

6. Taking the Tablet

The iPad, and now a herd of Android tablets, stormed into view in 2010. We have all read about the success of Apple's device and anticipate much activity in 2011, but pity the poor netbook makers who have seen their sales slump in a matter of months.

For us users though, the iPad is great news. You can actually work on it, show presentations, be productive -- be on the Web anywhere and not strain your vertebrae carrying it around. A decent range of apps are available now, including WordPress and EPiServer CMS. So, you can be sure big and Web business have taken notice and can expect most apps, web apps and systems to be fully tabletized pretty soon.

5. A Bit of Plastic

In this wave of technology, it is always great to see the little guy getting some of the crumbs and we'd take this opportunity to welcome Glif. This neat bit of plastic acts as a multi-axis stand and a tripod mount. It can sit proudly alongside all those cunning iPad case/stands, the sporty iPhone/iPod covers and endless other bits of plastic that make buying Christmas presents for the lucky friend who has everything that little bit easier.


4. Celebrating Sales Figures

I get the idea that a company likes to announce its sales figures, this helps boost (or otherwise) the stock price. But for smartphones, when the figures leak out of various research houses, quarterly reports or store updates -- a feeding frenzy of media and fan-boy related angst explodes all over tech sites.

If all that effort was put towards another goal, say world peace or whale saving, I think humanity would be a great deal further forward than it is. Tech sites, just put the chart on the front of your site and then go and do something good for the world.


3. Proper Games on a Phone

This won't actually launch until next year, but for all those high-powered executives bemoaning the fact that you can't play proper games on your phone, here is the answer. The PSP Phone (aka Sony Ericsson Zeus Z1) wouldn't be on this list at all if it weren't for Gizmodo grabbing some decent video of it in action.

Alas, its games-playing prowess is an enigma right now, but with the PlayStation brand tacked on, it had better offer something pretty special. So, how long will it take for other makers to come up with phones that have replaceable keyboard/gamepad sliders on their models? 

2. History, Today

Why stick to the present when you can dwell in the past. The best two mobile stories, brought to us via the magical medium of cinematography, actually date back to early last century, when what look like perfectly usable mobile devices were doing the rounds in grainy black and white.

Sure, everything wasn't quite what the eye wanted you to believe, but these stories prick the pompous bubble of mobile media rather neatly and remind us that whenever anyone says their gadget is "revolutionary", they have some way to go to prove it.

1. Mom and Pop, Friends and Family

Okay, the previous nine entries you can put in any order you like, but we think the most important innovation in mobile this year was the entry of, well, just about anyone. If seeing your parents trying to be friends on Facebook struck you with dread, this might not be a good thing.

But, for everyone else, video chat is helping bring people closer, improved mobile coverage around the world makes the distance between loved ones seem shorter and, at this seasonal time, its never been easier to keep in touch. The plummeting prices of smartphones and variety of contracts mean that anyone can afford one, we're all welcome.

Would your parents and grandparents have been able to handle all this technology in the intervening years when mobile phones stopped being just phones, but weren't quite smart? We've seen two-year olds and 102-year olds enjoying the pleasures of communicating through mobile and it has never been easier.