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5 key moments in mobile 2013

5 key moments in mobile 2013

The speed with which the mobile space continues to change remains frighteningly fast.

2013 has seen all the major players take major strides forward, while once giant brands have struggled to remain relevant in the face of the ongoing onslaught of Google, Samsung and Apple.

This time last year, smartphone fingerprint sensors were little more than a series of rumours on tech blogs, BlackBerry was preparing to release BB10 and Nokia was dreaming of a resurgence.

Today, all those stories have shifted massively. Here, we’ve picked out our five key moments of the year in mobile. Read on and see if you agree.

1 Google and LG duke it out over Nexus 4 hold-ups

lg nexus 4 official

The year started with Google’s then new Nexus 4 stuck in limbo. The device, made by LG, had received critical adoration when it was first released in December 2012.

But by the New Year, things had turned sour.

Stock was virtually non-existent and the two companies began a period of sniping about who was to blame.

First, Google’s UK boss Dan Cobley took to Google+ to slam LG for a lack of inventory.

He said: “Supplies from the manufacturer are scarce and erratic, and our communication has been flawed. I can offer an unreserved apology for our service and communication failures in this process."

That led LG France’s chief, Cathy Robin, to spit back: “Google has presented forecasts calculated according to their previous sales history of Nexus. But they have been less [in] demand.”

Despite the backbiting, and a series of rumours that LG and Google had ended their partnership, the Korean mobile maker help deliver the Nexus 5 in October.

Thankfully, the new device hasn’t suffered the same stock problems as its predecessor.

2 Samsung goes mad in New York

samsung galaxy s4 launch 2

The run up to Samsung’s Galaxy S4 launch event was almost Apple-esque in its fervour.

The company hired out Radio City in New York, buying vast swathes of ad space in Times Square to help build excitement.

But while there was no questioning the S4’s prowess, Samsung raised plenty of eyebrows with an utterly bizarre presentation that was a million miles from the straight-laced, ‘guys in Oxford shirts and khakis’ approach favoured by their rivals in Cupertino.

Taking a Broadway theme, the event was by turns tacky and sexist, especially when suggesting the S4’s non-touch gesture tech was perfect for housewives who didn’t have time to stop doing their nails or put down their drinks.

It was so badly miscalculated that for days afterwards, all anyone could talk about was how spectacularly wrong Samsung had got it.

When it revealed its Note 3 later in the year in Berlin, the sexism was thankfully gone, the company clearly aware it had made a spectacular error in NYC.

3 Apple overhauls iOS at last

ios 7 multi-tasking

By the start of 2013, iOS was beginning to look and feel very tired.

Commentators complained that its design had barely changed since the iPhone’s launch in 2007, while users were being wowed by far nattier software designs coming out of Google, Samsung and HTC.

But with Apple having booted its iOS chief, Scott Forstall, in late 2012, and charging its star hardware designer Jony Ive with overhauling the platform, change was afoot.

When iOS 7 was first seen at WWDC in June, it was a revelation. Cleaner, simpler and yet still packing the same breezy user experience, it immediately piqued interest in what many perceived as Apple’s ailing product line.

When it launched to the public in September, it was an instant hit, despite some high profile problems with motion sickness caused by Ive’s animations. 200 million users upgraded in the first five days alone.

4 Microsoft snaps up Nokia in multi-billion dollar deal

nokia lumia 525

Nokia’s fortunes were looking up in September 2013, with sales of its Lumia smartphones rising and the company seemingly on an even keel after years of backsliding and poor results.

But at the start of the month, it was revealed that the Nokia board had accepted a massive £4.6 billion takeover bid from Microsoft for its devices and services businesses, as well as licensing the Finnish firms mapping platform.

Talk of a deal had been floating around ever since Nokia ditched Symbian and chose to use Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS in its smartphones, back in 2011.

But this move, since approved by Nokia shareholders, meant that Microsoft would finally be able to start selling its own-brand devices from 2014.

Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed the coming together would give his firm the chance of taking on Apple and Google. That remains to be seen.

5 BlackBerry puts itself up for sale...and then pulls back from the brink

BlackBerry 10 announcement

BlackBerry’s year started off well, with the company unveiling its BB10 software and new Z10 device to a warm critical reception in January.

The thing is, critical praise doesn’t always turn into commercial success.

With the Z10 a flop and BB10 seen as years too late to affect iOS and Android’s dominance, BlackBerry put itself up for sale in August. It even had a deal hammered out with its principle shareholder, Fairfax Financial. The end was nigh.

That was until November, when the company amazingly pulled itself off of the market, sacked CEO Thorsten Heins and appointed renowned tech troubleshooter John Chen in his place.

He’s already booted out a number of execs, with more redundancies to come. BBM’s successful launch on iPhone and Android, though, will give the Canadian company hope that 2014 will be much, much better.

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