It is hard to sum up the technology landscape in 2011, but the word which dominates our minds is "shock". So here in no particular order (except for one) are what we found to be the biggest developments of a turbulent 12 months.
Microsoft Partners With Nokia
Just one month had passed before one of the biggest shocks of the year: Microsoft's exclusive agreement to put Windows Phone on all Nokia smartphones. No figure for the deal was formally announced, but industry talk puts it at an initial £1bn with numerous clauses that could see this figure skyrocket. The price was understandable given the risk is all on Nokia's side having found its feet too late and it could easily become one of the biggest stories of 2012 with persistent rumours Microsoft will simply buy Nokia's phone division in the coming months.
A deal would make sense for all sides with Nokia absolving itself of its troubled unit and returning to its networking history and Microsoft finally evolving its business model to challenge Apple's hardware/software unity. Our money is on a deal being done and Finland not worrying too much.
Google Buys Motorola
Microsoft wasn't the only company suggesting it has long term hardware ambitions. In August out of the blue Google bought Motorola for $12.5bn. Like Microsoft the Android owner insisted the buy had nothing to do with starting its own handset line, but Google hasn't been slow in showing manufacturers "how to do it" in the past. With the company's frustrations growing at the ubiquity of Android skins we wouldn't be surprised to see continue an iPhone-esque strategy of releasing at least one flagship handset on an annual basis.
Of course the real motivation for the purchase was said to be patents and with Motorola having over 17,000 we wouldn't doubt that. The deal saw Google both strengthen its legal stance and protect partners while gaining new hardware capabilities at the same time. A smart deal by a smart company.