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A look back at the cutting-edge tech of 2010 -- and how it's shaped the decade since

"Rubin Chave" (19/01/2020)


id="article-body" class="row" section="article-body"> The event and the device that started a decade: Steve Jobs announces the first iPad in January, 2010.

James Martin/CNET This story is part of The 2010s: A Decade in Review, a series on the memes, people, products, movies and so much more that have influenced the 2010s. In real time, the pace of change in the technology world often feels glacial: "How do we still not have AR glasses and days-long battery life on our smartphones yet?" But step back and look at things over a five-year span, and some stark differences quickly emerge. Pull out to a full decade, and the changes are even more dramatic.

That's why a look back at 2010 technology is so interesting. We had things like smartphones, Facebook and streaming video services then, but none of them were near the mainstream ubiquity that they are today. Meanwhile, other brands that are gone altogether -- Blockbuster Video, BlackBerry, Nokia and Palm, to name a few -- were still at the top of their game.

So before you fire up Fortnite, scroll through your TikTok feed or download a new show on Disney Plus, take a look back at what the state of consumer technology was like back in 2010. Let's remember how we got here -- and realize that many of your apps, services and products you're using today may well be a fuzzy memory come 2030.

iPad and the tablet revolution (that wasn't)
The 2010 tech scene started with a boom called iPad. Apple's encore to the iPhone was widely rumored to be a tablet, and CES 2010 was all about rival manufacturers trying to prove they could beat Apple to the punch with prototypes of anything that wasn't a traditional laptop, whether they were called slates or even "smartbooks." (Microsoft, let's remember, had been pushing Windows-based "tablet computers" with stylus input since about 2005.) But later in January, Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed off the real thing on stage, and the iPad was born.

Amazon hoped to steal some of the iPad's thunder with the Kindle Fire, a smaller, much cheaper tablet stocked with Amazon services and content.

Eric Mack/CNET Ironically, much of the tech press wasn't terribly excited once the iPad was revealed -- "Meh, this is just a big iPhone," they said. And yes, the name was originally ridiculed. But once the $499 product hit in April, the public was in love -- "Hey, this is basically a big iPhone!" The tablet market went on to explode with a raft of iPad wannabes, with everything from the Amazon Kindle Fire, Google Nexus 7 and Microsoft Surface popping up in subsequent two years after the iPad's debut. In fact, the big Windows 8 overhaul -- later codified by Windows Vista -- was effectively Microsoft trying to go all-in on a touch-first operating system. Neither were beloved by users, to say the least.

Despite the fact that the iPad went on to outsell the Mac for several quarters, however, neither Apple's tablet nor those of its rivals managed to kill off the laptop. Instead, laptops ended up incorporating many of the iPad's features. At least that's the case in the PC realm, where Windows laptops have since embraced the touchscreen with far more innovative designs, including detachable keyboards and flip-around screens. But until you can leave the laptop at home and only take an iPad on your next work trip -- still an impossibility for all but the most die-hard iPad fan -- the iPad will still feel like it hasn't quite reached its full potential.

After its prototype iPhone 4 went missing, Apple had a mess on its hands.

Luke Westaway/CNET iPhone 4: Retina screen, Gizmodo leak and Antennagate
If you think phone releases have become boring and predictable, then you don't remember the iPhone 4. Only three years old in 2010, the iPhone was the smartphone trendsetter that all others were trying to beat. When the fourth model arrived in June (back when iPhones were still introduced at that month's WWDC show), the big new features were the selfie camera and the Retina screen -- so high-resolution you couldn't really see the pixels. But, oh, was that screen tiny -- just 3.5 inches diagonally, the size of a credit card (the iPhone 8, the oldest version Apple still sells, has a 4.7-inch display).

And then it had another mess after the iPhone 4's release with antennagate.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET The iPhone 4 was the last iPhone to be introduced as an AT&T exclusive (the Verizon-compatible iPhone 4 landed in February 2011). And it was first the iPhone with a big design overhaul, eschewing the soft, rounded corners of earlier iterations for a flat sided, all-metal rim that doubled as the antenna. Of course, that big design change wasn't a surprise, because Gizmodo had leaked the iPhone design weeks in advance. (The gadget site had purchased the phone for $5,000 after a prototype had been left in a bar in Redwood City by an Apple engineer.)

While the antenna rim of the iPhone 4 may have been a unique design, it contributed to the biggest iPhone scandal of them all: "Antennagate." Within weeks of the release, complaints that reception was adversely affected by how users gripped the phone -- effectively "blocking" the edge antenna -- were rampant enough that Consumer Reports could not recommend the phone. Eventually, Jobs cut short his summer vacation to hold a press conference, during which he grudgingly offered consumers a free bumper case, รับทําเว็บ joomla which largely ameliorated the issue. (This was days after he suggested to an iPhone owner via email that he should "just avoid holding it that way.")

The first Android phone, the HTC Dream (aka the T-Mobile G1) was just over a year old.

Sarah Tew/CNET Android really arrives
The iPhone was the handset to beat in 2010, but Android was coming on strong in the two years since its debut model, the T-Mobile G1/HTC Dream, was first released. Google's operating system tripled its share of smartphone shipments, jumping from 10% in May to 33% by year's end. 

HTC and Motorola were the top brands in the nascent Android world, with models like the Evo 4G and Droid X, respectively. But in a sign of things to come, newcomer Samsung first embraced the Android platform in 2010, releasing the first Galaxy S phone. Actually, it was the first four Galaxy S phones, because this was still the bad old days of carrier exclusives. One of those models, Sprint's Galaxy Epic 4G, had a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and was compatible with Sprint's 4G WiMax network -- an LTE rival that never caught on, and helped doom Sprint to its perennial fourth place among US wireless carriers. 

The Samsung Epic 4G was one of the first Galaxy S phones, and the only one with a slide-out keyboard with real keys.

Kent German/CNET Of course, it would take a few years for Samsung to begin dominating the smartphone market -- its first Galaxy Note "phablet" phone was still a year away. But Google would acquire Moto in 2012 for $12.5 billion dollars -- only to flip the bulk of it over to Lenovo less than two years later for under a quarter of that amount. But the brand lives on with solid budget models and even an impressive new foldable Razr that resurrects the classic brand. HTC, meanwhile, has turned its focus on virtual reality, opting to sell a chunk of its phone engineering expertise to Google. 

Windows Phone never acquired the app universe necessary for success, but its tile-based design was appealing.

Josh Miller/CNET Microsoft reinvents with Windows Phone
As Android was on the rise in 2010, Microsoft was struggling uphill with its Windows Phone operating system. Redmond was trying to recapture the glory days of Windows Mobile, which had actually been a major player in the previous decade on devices like the Motorola Q and Samsung Blackjack before getting crowded out by iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia's Symbian. 

Debuting in February, Windows Phone 7 was the beginning of a journey that would eventually take Microsoft to its "live tiles" system, a different take on mobile interaction that didn't just ape the grid of icons found on iPhones and Android phones. Microsoft would eventually pull the plug on Windows Phone in 2017, but it's returning to the phone market in 2020 with the foldable -- and Android-powered! -- Surface Duo.  

Though sleeker than previous BlackBerry models, the Bold was still the domain of worker bees.

Nicole Lee/CNET A still ripe BlackBerry
Indeed, the big dogs of the phone world of 2010 were still BlackBerry and Nokia. BlackBerry's hard QWERTY keyboards were still the industry standard for "work" phones with models like the BlackBerry Bold, while the company was fighting the iPhone in the consumer space with models like the Pearl 3G and the touchscreen Storm. Unfortunately for the Canadian giant, its market share would only head southward as the decade progressed. It lives on as a zombie "in name only" licensed brand of Chinese manufacturer TCL.