The Numbers Behind Some of 2012’s Biggest Technology Stories
A few of the top technology stories of 2012 stand out for the big numbers they generated. Here are some of the events and trends that were especially dramatic in scale.
Between the May 18 IPO and early October, meanwhile, the social network added 100 million more users, bringing its total to a billion, dwarfing the other big networks. Twitter, for comparison, recently announced that it now has 200 million active users.
Smartphones and Tablets
Global smartphone shipments will increase by 45.1 percent this year over last, forecasts market research firm IDC, to 717.5 million units (out of 1.7 billion total mobile phones). A big portion of that growth happened in China, which IDC expects to account for 26.5 percent of the global smartphone market, rising from 18.3 percent last year and surpassing the U.S. as the world’s biggest market.
Android was by far the dominant operating system on smartphones shipped in 2012, claiming 68.3 percent of the market, says IDC.
The tablet market also greatly expanded in 2012. Gartner projects 136 million shipments in 2012—up from 55 million in 2011. Apple still dominates this area, but competitors like Samsung and Amazon are having increasing success.
Overall, IDC says smartphones and tablets will represent 70 percent of the 1.2 billion “smart connected devices” shipped in 2012, with desktop and portable PCs combining for the remaining 30 percent.
As of November, 13 percent of all Internet traffic was headed to or from mobile devices.
Big data might have been the biggest technology-related buzzword of 2012. The amount of digital information created or replicated grew to 2.8 zettabytes (a zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes), up from 1.8 zettabytes in 2011, according to IDC. That’s obviously a big amount of data. But to be “big data” it has to be useful, and IDC says that in 2012, only 23 percent of all the information created or replicated in 2012 would be useful “if it were tagged and analyzed,” and that “only 3 percent of the potentially useful data is tagged, and even less analyzed.” Of the potentially useful data, nearly half is surveillance footage.