4. Firefox Rising: Netscape came back to challenge Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser in 2004, this time in the form of Firefox, the browser application built by the Mozilla Foundation and based partly on the original Netscape engine. Since the release of its version 1.0 last month, more than 10 million copies of the free application have been downloaded, putting a small dent in Internet Explorer's otherwise commanding lead and prompting raves from tech reviewers.
3. Open Sesame:The success of Firefox gave the open-source movement additional clout over the last year, but it was the continued mainstreaming of Linux that made headlines over and over again in 2004, as governments, big businesses (Intel and IBM!) and regular home users increasingly took steps away from proprietary software. Microsoft, as the world's dominant software firm, has the most to lose from the rise of Linux. In September, the company wrote in an SEC filing that open source software is a growing threat and noted "IBM's endorsement of Linux has accelerated its acceptance as an alternative. ... Linux's competitive position has also benefited from the large number of compatible applications now produced by many leading commercial software developers as well as non-commercial software developers."
Tsunami Prompts Online Outpouring (washingtonpost.com, Jan 3, 2005)
Shooting for Video Game Success (washingtonpost.com, Dec 21, 2004)
The Incredible Edible iPod (washingtonpost.com, Dec 20, 2004)
Santa's Bag of Tech Mergers (washingtonpost.com, Dec 17, 2004)
iPod: The Gift That Keeps on Going (washingtonpost.com, Dec 16, 2004)
More Past Issues
2. Blogs Get Real: Web logs have become so mainstream that Merriam-Webster reported that the word "blog" was the most looked-up word of 2004. Blogs started ages ago in Internet time, but what was new in 2004 was the attention they finally got from traditional media outlets. Blogs were put under the spotlight during the Republican and Democratic national conventions, but it was on Election Day that they perhaps had their biggest impact, when numerous bloggers posted early election exit poll data. "Are blogs journalism?" was a big question of 2004. Perhaps the question in future years is whether journalism itself evolves into endless blogging. Tech giants are certainly betting that the blog revolution is here to stay, with Microsoft rolling out its own blogging software. Nick Denton's Gawker Media empire, which includes the popular Wonkette, is surely a sign that the profit potential is there.
1. The Search For Dominance: Google's wildly successful IPO helped shine the light again on the search engine industry and its potential to attract advertisers and profits. And it was Google that set the pace for the search-engine wars time and again in 2004. In the spring, the company unveiled a beta version of its Gmail e-mail service -- offering users 1 gigabyte of free storage. That move alone quickly forced Yahoo and Microsoft to up the paltry storage limits they already offered to their e-mail users. Google then offered up its own desktop search tool, beating Microsoft out of the gates. So if Google established a big lead in 2004, that means it has a target on its back in 2005. Watch the company's stock price as Microsoft digs deep into its bank account to catch up, and don't forget all those little start-ups in Silicon Valley. Somewhere out there could be the next Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
Your Top 10 Takes?
Drop me a note with your nominations for 2004's biggest tech trends. I will publish selected reader comments after the holiday break. Please include your full name, city and state.
Thanks for putting Filter on your bookmark list and for your e-mail feedback. I'll be taking the next two weeks off. But Filter will be back online Jan. 3, with my colleague Robert MacMillan filling in; I'll be back online on Jan. 5. To get your Filter fix until then, check out the archives.
Have a safe, happy holiday. Enjoy your eggnog, don't linger under the mistletoe too long and see you online in 2005! Happy New Year!
Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com.