The economy may be tanking, but innovation is alive and well.
When it came to products, incremental improvements were the name of the game this year. Phones got faster (iPhone 3G anyone?), notebooks turned into netbooks and pocket cameras went from recording standard-definition video to HD.
Not all of the technological developments on Wired's top 10 list are related to the media, but those that are will be having an enormous impact over the next couple of years.
One example is the flexible display:
This year, the research moved from the realm of science fiction to plausible reality. With help from the U.S. Army, Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center has created a prototype for soldiers, and hopes to have the devices in field trials in the next three years. Startups like Plastic Logic and E-Ink have been developing similar technologies.
Meanwhile, Hewlett Packard announced a manufacturing breakthrough that allows the thin-film transistor arrays to be fabricated on flexible plastic materials, enabling manufacturers to "print" displays on big, newsprintlike rolls. Samsung showed off a mobile phone prototype with a flexible display that folds like a book.
Another major development is the creation of the previously purely theoretical memristor:
The discovery will make it possible to develop computer systems that remember what's stored in memory when they are turned off. That means computers that don't need to be booted up and systems that are far more energy efficient than the current crop. Researchers also hope the memristor can help develop a new kind of computer memory that can supplement or ultimately replace dynamic random access memory, or DRAM — the type of memory used in personal computers.
And of course there's also the explosion in mobile operating system platforms:
Until this year, mobile app developers lacked an easy way to get their software into the hands of consumers, forcing them to make deals with finicky and power-hungry carriers if they wanted to get any distribution at all. Apple's App Store changed all that. It made creating and distributing mobile applications for cellphone users easy — jumpstarting the mobile-app development market and creating clones such as the Android Market. It even forced Research in Motion to offer a BlackBerry Application Storefront. For thousands of programmers, the cellphone is the new PC.
Those who learn to make full use of these new technologies will thrive and build an amazing new media ecosystem. Those who don't will go out of business. Bring it on.