Who will come out on top?
This year sowed the seeds of an exciting tech war to come, a clash of four titans: Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook.
Based on 2011, my money's on Amazon, partly because the Kindle Fire is an amazing media device with an amazing price tag, but also because I would argue that the other three empires started to decline this year.
With the death of Steve Jobs, Apple lost its chief imaginologist and creator, an unbeatable one-man corporate force. I have little faith it can keep up the pace of the past 10 years without him.
Google switched its corporate strategy to bank on a social network, technology that saw its peak in the last decade. Google+ was accurately summarized by Facebook guy Mark Zuckerberg as Google "trying to build its own little Facebook."
G+ is a fine service, but it's nothing to hang a company on. At best, it's a sidestep for the traditionally forward-thinking search corporation. And that Google is funnelling all of its products, users and energy into Google+ is a sure sign it's committed to this detour.
Challenges to its domination are plentiful, and I've yet to see what Facebook plans to do to combat them apart from continuing its efforts to expand. That approach will not work; this year saw growth slow in parts of North America.
While each of these companies messes around with grand expansion and social networking (remember Apple's Ping?), low-profile Amazon is smartly preparing for the future with cloud computing. Presently, its cloud computing infrastructure can't be beat, and that part of the business will only become more lucrative.
Meanwhile, in Canada...
While the four horsemen of the internet fight it out in America, the Canadian tech business is a different battle altogether.
Here, the warring corporations aren't traditional tech companies but newspaper publishers.
Torstar, the corporate overlord of the Toronto Star, has been in an acquiring mood this year. It's been evaluating any small online company that could bolster its media properties, and even buying a few, like fashion site The Kit. It's also developing other online interests. Torstar rolled out Jaunt, a travel coupon site; ShopCatch, a grocery coupon product; and OurFaves, a Yelp-aping review site.
Via Metroland, it also signed a massive deal with Polar Mobile to produce some 500 apps - the largest mobile deal in Canadian history. Torstar also owns media operations company Olive Media, which can push advertising over all these properties.
Postmedia is also getting in on the ground floor with new technology. Its big acquisition is Sprouter, a favourite of mine, which, appropriately, showcases growing online businesses.
This was all going on while the country's tech mainstay, Research in Motion, spent the year fighting itself. Its PlayBook was a pathetic entry into the tablet market, its leadership got even more befuddled, and service outages gave everyone an excuse to spit in its face.
Can 2012 be any worse?