Top 10 objectively biggest tech stories of 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 4:43PM ET
by Megan McCarthy     Permalink

Unlike other news sites, our impartial and omniscient news relevance engine enables us to produce a purely objective top story list for the year. Ok, ok, that's not strictly true, in fact manual editing was even phased in recently. But the following choices for the most captivating tech stories of 2008, derived by sorting through our internal headline ranking data, paint a clear and telling picture of the past year in technology.

Microsoft: The story at the top of the Techmeme's charts for 2008 was Microsoft's ultimately futile attempt to purchase Yahoo. The initial shock of Microsoft's $44B offer - not to mention the ungodly hour which the news was released - caused a seismic wave to pierce the heart of Sunnyvale and startle everyone from San Francisco to Seattle.
Two more stories that would have made the top 10 were updates to the "Microhoo" saga, so we're including them here instead:
Wall Street Journal: It took nine days for Yahoo to officially rebuff Microsoft's initial acquisition overtures, but Yahoo's rejection on February 9th was far from the final word. The less-than-solid "no" proved to be the early stages of a dithering courtship.
Official Google Blog: Yahoo's first defensive move after Microsoft's surprise takeover bid was to shore up its resources by partnering with Google for a search advertisement deal. In the end, Google was game, but the FCC wasn't.
Apple: Just a few weeks ago, Apple decided to bow out of an industry conference MacWorld, like many of its peers and colleagues. The vaunted gathering which launched the iPhone, the Apple TV, and a rainbow's worth of iPods would be sans official support of the Cupertino fruit company starting in 2010. The shocking aspect, buried in Apple's PR statement: Apple CEO Steve Jobs would pass over the upcoming MacWorld keynote, sending a lowly exec - mortal Phil Schiller - instead.
Philipp Lenssen / Google Blogoscoped: Browser wars are back! Or so people thought in early September, when Google launched Chrome, its secret project to topple Microsoft's exploit-addled Internet Explorer. Huh, here's a twist: perhaps it's Firefox, the browser developed by Mozilla, Google's neighbor and dependant, which is really in Chrome's sights. (How do you react when your benefactor switches from patron to competitor?) Oh, but nevermind the competition, this thing is slick, lightning-fast, and, brand-new. Wait, whaddya mean it's only for Windows?
Apple Developer Connection: Everyone loves the iPhone. But better than owning an iPhone is profiting from other people who have them. In early October, Apple revised its developer terms to rescind a cumbersome non-disclosure agreement, allowing curious coders to share their findings amongst each other. A win-win for both Apple, who placated its popular App Store suppliers, and developers, who concentrated their brains and created successful masterpieces like iFart.
John Markoff / New York Times: With every developer and her sister getting into Apple's iPhone App Store game, might as well expect tech's giants to play along, right? In mid-November, Google did just that, releasing its Voice Search as an application.
Charlie Demerjian / Inquirer: Sometimes a rumor just is too good to pass by, or too outrageous not to debunk, and that's what happened with a mid-October report about Google buying games-maker Valve, creators of Half-Life and Counter-Strike. It turned out to be false, but not before a lot of questions were raised.
Wall Street Journal: Downloaders rejoice! The nefarious RIAA decided in the midst of the holiday season to drop its policy of suing the pants off of people for peer-to-peer sharing of songs.
Michael Arrington / TechCrunch: Social discovery site Digg was Silicon Valley's most eligible startup of 2008. Rumors of an acquisition first surfaced in March and heated up again over the summer, but ultimately fizzled out. In the fall, Digg raised a $28.7M Series C round and kept its independence for at least one more year.
Mike Nash / Windows Vista Team Blog: Microsoft's upcoming OS - its apology for the disappointing Vista? - was officially announced in mid-October. After lackluster launches from operating systems with cutesy names like Vista and Me, the wise simplicity of Windows 7 being named, well, Windows 7, was enough to propel this story up the charts.
Jesusdiaz / Gizmodo: The most anticipated gadget of 2008 was, hands down, the iPhone 3G. Apple stayed mum on the gadget upgrade, officially announcing the shiny new toy at a WWDC speech in June. But rumors and eager early adopters clamored for any news they could find.

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