08th Jan 2013
- Another iPhone, this time a little longer.
- Microsoft attempted to reinvent the wheel — and succeeded.
- Love it or leave it, Samsung's flagship handset sold the most.
- One of the best games in the FPS genre just got better.
- A faster iPad, well received.
- ...And the rise of the "mini"s.
Read on for our take on why these six are the top successes of 2012.
Apple iPhone 5
Apple launched the iPhone 5 after months of speculations and rumoured launch dates. With a longer, 4" screen (as against the earlier 3.5"), this is the lightest and thinnest iPhone to date. The width is the same, making it perfect for one-handed operation. Powered by the A6 CPU, this is the fastest iteration as well, and it runs the latest iOS 6. And it seemed like a runaway success too: Over 5 million units were sold in the US within three days of launch. In India, despite steep pricing, Apple devices have always been well received. The initial sales streak, however, was reportedly hampered by a delay in supply.
Microsoft Windows 8
Microsoft released Windows 8 for desktop computers in October. With a radically new, touchscreen-inclined UI, it was initially difficult to gauge whether the new OS would catch consumers' fancy — given a seemingly steep learning curve. However, underneath the touch interface, the trusted old desktop is available, so users get the best of both worlds. Windows 8 managed to sell 40 million licenses in a month, which is a lot better than any earlier iteration of Windows.
Samsung GALAXY S III
It's been ridiculed for its screen size ("too large for a phone"). It's been criticised for lack of innovation in design. However, the Samsung GALAXY S III remained unfazed, emerging as the most successful smartphone of 2012. Upon launch, this flagship device had one of the most powerful hardware configurations as far as smartphones are concerned. Whether or not that led to any real-world benefit is a point of argument. Another reason that it did so well is the cheaper-than-iPhone-5 price tag and the unrestrictive Android OS. A possibly important contributing factor to its success is Samsung's popularity, merely by virtue of being all over the smartphone space!
Call Of Duty: Black Ops II
COD: Black Ops II is the ninth instalment of the very successful first-person shooter video game franchise. It continues from where it left off in COD: Black Ops. Set in the year 2025 with a new Cold War between China and the US, it involves robotics, cyberwarfare, and other futuristic technology. As with its predecessors, there are single-player, multi-player, and cooperative modes. Along with the option to play in stereoscopic 3D, this is the first game in the COD franchise to feature nonlinear gameplay and allow multiple endings that depend on the choices a player makes as the game progresses. Developed for PC, Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U, the game broke the sales record of COD: Modern Warfare 3 by grossing $500 million within 24 hours — and then going on to sell 7.5 million copies by the end of November, which was three weeks since its release. In fact, it sold over a million copies on the first day of availability!
Apple iPad (4th Generation)
The iPad was already popular, with one study even showing that an overwhelming majority of internet traffic via tablets is attributed to this device alone. Though not revolutionary, Apple managed to keep things exciting with the 4th generation of this device, with a faster A6X CPU. The new processor promised performance up to two times faster than its predecessor, while maintaining the battery life of 10 hours. This iteration also brought along the 5 mp iSight camera with FaceTime HD camera, improved LTE compatibility, and the new Lightning connector. Its 9.7" Retina display sets it apart from the pack. No wonder it sold 3 million units over just one weekend!
Apple iPad mini and Samsung GALAXY S III mini
Not every one looks for larger screens on their gadgets — there is a definite consumer segment that prefers compact devices. Unlike in the smartphone arena, where phablets seemed to be the flavour of the season, Apple and Samsung launched the mini, or shrunk-down, versions of the iPad and GALAXY S III respectively to keep this segment happy.
While it is smaller than its sibling, the SGS3 mini — with a 4" Super AMOLED screen running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) — is still a powerful device with a dual-core 1 GHz CPU and 1 GB of RAM. It even looks almost identical to the SGS3 (which has a 4.8" screen), save for the smaller dimensions.
Apple didn't bring out a smaller version of the iPhone because the company considers the size apt for a cell phone. However, as they mentioned in their keynote, the iPad mini with a 7.9" screen is supposed to do everything that the larger iPad (with a 9.7" screen) does — except that this device can be held in one hand (assuming the hand is large!). It is still larger than most 7" Android tablets, and definitely more versatile due to the App Store, which is qualitatively better than app markets on other platforms.
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