December 23, 2009, 6:40 AM — In 2009, the computers got smaller, the databases got bigger, and HTML's dominance grew. None of these trends are new, and some of these changes are as old as computers themselves, but the magnitudes are greater or smaller than ever before. Here are the winners and losers we spotted on the software development landscape in 2009. For the programmers, alas, many of the year's ups had downsides.
Winner: Smartphones Smartphones took over the center of gravity for many consumer applications. The Apple iPhone appears to be the most successful product launch in computing history, and its vibrant app marketplace continues to be the biggest attention sponge for all of us. While many apps are pretty dumb and developers can't think of enough bad words for Apple's Vader-esque grip on the marketplace, it's clear that the pocket-sized computers will be the hottest focus for developers. Google's Android, Palm's webOS, and Nokia's Symbian hope to compete by being a bit more open, but no one knows if this will overcome Apple's commanding lead. The real secret may lie in WebKit-focused Web applications because the same open source browser implementation is running on many of the best smartphones.
[ You can't say InfoWorld's Neil McAllister didn't warn you, or maybe you can. See McAllister's "2009 software development predictions put to the test." ]
Loser: Desktops Desktops aren't gone, but they are certainly forgotten. If it weren't for their luxurious screen real estate and plus-sized keyboards that allow you to type more than one or two words per hour, no one would use them at all. Game makers are fleeing to the consoles, office applications are turning to the Web, and Google is deciding whether we will spend more of our time with a Google Android smartphone or a Google Chrome OS smartbook. Even bloggers are turning to the thumb-friendly 140-character limit at Twitter. Did we ever use PCs for anything else?