Top Tech Industry News Stories of 2011 -- So Far

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Egypt shuts down. Egypt's shutdown of the Internet and cell phone networks in an effort to diffuse protests against the government not only burned free speech advocates around the world, but it cost the country's economy at least $90 million, according to one report. It also raised the specter of an Internet "kill switch" being put into the U.S. President's hands.

Google go-round. Google announced in January that it was shaking up top management, with longtime CEO Eric Schmidt becoming executive chairman and co-founder Larry Page taking hold of the CEO reins all in the name of streamlining the company's top-level decision making. It's hard to argue that Schmidt, in coming to Google from Novell in 2001, didn't make one of the greatest career moves in the history of history.

Verizon+Apple, at last. Following month after excruciating month of rumors, Verizon and Apple finally got together in January and announced that the iPhone would be coming to Verizon's network in February. Surveys backed up the notion that there was much pent up demand for the iPhone on an network other than AT&T's, which has been criticized by many for dropping too many iPhone calls. The Daily Show host Jon Stewart said the news put an end out our long national iPhone nightmare.

Steve Jobs takes leave. While almost everything seems to be going right for Apple, the health of its CEO Steve Jobs has been a constant concern. Jobs announced in January that he would be taking a leave of absence for medical reasons and that COO Tim Cook would be handling day-to-day operations in his stead.

Microsoft, Muglia part ways. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer ousted Bob Muglia as head of the company's Server and Tools Business, Windows Server 2008 generally gets high marks from customers, but Microsoft is still trying to prove itself in the virtualization and cloud markets, and it was the cloud computing area in particular where Ballmer focused in explaining the move. In February, Microsoft named Muglia's replacement: Satya Nadella, who led the company's technical efforts to launch its Bing search engine.

Apple's latest app store. It turns out that the appeal of app stores isn't just for smartphone and tablet computer users. Apple's Mac App Store hit the 1 million download mark on its first day upon opening in January. The opening wasn't without hitches, as a piracy vulnerability was spotted early on. Meanwhile, Apple hit the 10 billion app download mark on its earlier App Store about a week after the Mac App Store opened.

LTE everywhere. AT&T at CES formally announced its plans to launch LTE services during the summer of 2011. AT&T also announced that it would be launching around 20 different "4G devices" this year, although many of those devices will actually run on its 3G HSPA+ wireless network. Much like rival carrier T-Mobile, AT&T refers to both the LTE and HSPA+ wireless standards as "4G" technologies even though HSPA+ is most widely considered a faster and more reliable version of the 3G GSM-based HSPA standard. Separately, Verizon at CES showed off 10 LTE devices it would be selling in the first half of 2011. This followed Verizon's launch of LTE networks in December, 2010.

CES tablet-mania: The Apple iPad assault ramped up at the annual CES gadgetfest in Las Vegas in January as Acer, Dell, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, NEC and others introduced Windows or Android tablet computers. RIM showed off its PlayBook tablet, Google previewed its tablet-optimized Android 3.0 software and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talked up his company's mobile plans, including ARM support for Windows.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

This story, "Top Tech Industry News Stories of 2011 -- So Far" was originally published by Network World.

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