2012 – The tech year in numbers

31 Dec 2012

In a year when all sorts of records tumbled in the technology sector, we take a look back through 2012 at some of the major facts and figures which made this year one of the most memorable.


Strong sales of Apple’s iPhone 5 have propelled iOS back to the No 1 spot in the US, according to research from Kantar in November. Apple has 48.1pc share of US smartphone sales compared with Google’s Android, which has a 46.7pc share.

However, 75pc (more than 120m units) of phones shipped globally in Q3 were running Android, according to IDC

Android now has a 72.4pc market share of smartphone users, according to Gartner’s Q3 2012 report up nearly 20pc on last year.

Mobile OS Units sold Market percent
Android 122,480.0 72.4
iOS 23,550.3 13.9
RIM 8,946.8 5.3
Bada 5,054.7 3.0
Symbian 4,404.9 2.6
Microsoft 4,058.2 2.4
Others 683.7 0.4
Total 169,178.6 100.0pc

The report also indicates that Samsung shipped nearly 98m units in Q3 while Apple had sold 23.5m. Combined, both vendors control 46.5pc of the smartphone market.

IDC predict that fourth-quarter shipments of smartphones will reach 362m units with a market value of US$169.2bn, while global smartphone sales will reach 1bn units next year, according to Gartner.


In October, Google’s third-quarter results were accidentally leaked, causing the share price falling 13pc, wiping more than US$20bn off the company’s value in one day. Similarly, in December, Apple saw US$34.9bn wiped off its market cap in one day, dropping it to US$506bn, down from the US$705bn it peaked at in September

Facebook went public in May of this year, debuting with a share price of US$38, peaking at US$45.

However, shares plummeted to as low as US$19.69 as the expiry of a ban that prevents pre-IPO investors from trading saw investors sell off 156.7m out of 271m shares in one day.

What was initially projected as a US$1bn purchase for Facebook, Instagram’s sale was officially given as US$715m by Facebook’s 10-Q filing

Digital entertainment giant Disney acquired Lucasfilm for US$4bn in October. The deal includes all of the company’s subsidiaries, including Lucasfilm Animation and its video games arm LucasArts. It has also been revealed that a new Star Wars movie is in production.

On the back of their smartphone successes, Samsung and Apple posted bumper profits in their October reports. Registering US$7.4bn and US$8.2bn respectively.

It was also a good year for LinkedIn, as it saw revenues climb 81pc to US$252m in Q3 but major tech companies Sony and Microsoft had a year to forget. The Japanese multinational took a hit of US316m in August while the US Software company posted its first loss since going public to the tune of US$192m.

Meanwhile, Ireland has proven itself to be a global powerhouse for the medical-technology sector, as the export performance of the sector grew 10pc in the first half of 2012 to €3.9bn.


More than 72 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube every minute in 2012, with more than 800m unique user visits and more than 4bn hours of video watched each month.

Global browser usage (November 2012)

Chrome: 35.72pc

Internet Explorer: 31.23pc

Firefox: 22.37pc

Safari: 7.83pc

Opera: 1.39pc

Google was the most visited website in the world during 2012 according to Alexa, with Facebook and YouTube completing the top 3. However the three interchanged throughout 2012, with Google falling to third place in July of this year.

Chrome grew in popularity once again in 2012, with an 8.5pc increase in market share (27pc to 35pc) over the year, finally overtaking Internet Explorer as the most-used browser.

Most (69pc) of internet users are going online via mobile devices, with mobile apps fuelling this increase, a study of consumers in Europe, Latin America, and South Africa conducted by Accenture suggests. Mobile Web Watch 2012 also reveals consumers are using multiple devices to connect to the internet, including smartphones (61pc), netbooks (37pc), and tablets (22pc).

In July, WikiLeaks published ‘The Syria Files’, the group’s largest publication to date. More than 2.4m documents pertaining to the Syrian government were released.

PSY’s Gangnam Style broke all manner of viral records in 2012. The video became the fifth-fastest video to reach 1m views on YouTube, reaching the milestone in 52 days. However, the video’s popularity exploded in Western countries after this, going on to become the most watched video ever on YouTube.

In June, the video ‘Making the bus monitor cry’ amassed more than 3m views on YouTube in less than a week. A donation page was set up on Indiegogo to raise US$5,000 for the woman to take a break, reaching more than US$400,000 in one day.

China has the most active online users in the world, with more than 538m people online, according to the Chinese Government’s China Internet Network Information Center.


Microsoft reported in November that it had sold 40m Windows 8 licences in the first month.

Google Maps received its biggest update yet in 2012, with Street View updating more than 402,336 kilometres (250,000 miles) of roads around the world.

A report by Distimo has pointed out that the top 300 apps in the Windows Store have an average download of 200,000 a day, which is more than the top 300 apps in the Mac App Store, which are at around 80,000 daily downloads.

More than 100m users upgraded to iOS 6 after launch. But according to analysts at data research firm Strategy Analytics, 283m in total could upgrade. Which means 183m have avoided doing so, the low uptake is being blamed largely on Apple Maps.

Google Play store hit the magical milestone of 25bn downloads in September of this year. The store houses more than 675,000 apps and games.

CoderDojo, which turned one this year, joined forces with Hays Recruitment to find 1,000 new mentors and 100 companies to provide facilities for dojos. There are now 104 dojos happening every Saturday afternoon (41 in Ireland) in cities from Dublin to Florence, and Tokyo, LA, New York, London and Chicago. New ones are sprouting up in Jamaica and Africa. On any given Saturday, an average of 6,000 kids between the ages of seven and 17 in Ireland and around the world are teaching each other how to write code.

Netflix saw a faster adoption rate in Ireland and the UK than Facebook or Twitter, hitting 1m users in seven months.

Spotify launched in Ireland this year to join 15 other countries using the service. The service offers an instant music library of more than 18m tracks and counts more than 20m monthly users.



Top 10 followed people on Google+ (13 December 2012):

1. Britney Spears – 5,356,717 followers

2. Lady Gaga – 4,996,168 followers

3. Larry Page – 4,683,848 followers

4. Snoop Dogg – 4,5759,373 followers

5. Tom Anderson – 4,150,120 followers

6. Usher – 4,138,007 followers

7. Trey Ratcliff – 4,126,537 followers

8. David Beckham – 4,117,427 followers

9. Thomas Hawk – 4,091,470 followers

10. Ashley Tisdale – 3,920,526 followers

Google claims that Google+ has more than 500m people upgraded to use Google’s social network, 235m of whom are actively interacting with the platform across the web via +1s, Gmail and search, while 135m are active in the Google+ stream.

Despite Google’s positive claims about user engagement and usage, a RJ Metrics report in May showed that only a third of the 40,000 accounts reviewed had any activity, 30pc never made a second post and the average user spent a pathetically low three minutes on the social networking site. For reference, the average Facebook user spends 405 minutes on Facebook per month.

Alternative rockers Coldplay have the most-followed page on Google+ with 3,647,927 followers (on 13 December 2012), followed closely by Angry Birds with 3,572,166 followers and ‘Google Art Project’ on 2,914,256 followers.

Google+ saw some major revamps this year, sparked by the June acquisition of website toolbar platform ‘Meebo’ for an estimated US$100m.


Barack Obama’s “Four more years” tweet on 6 November was the most retweeted in 2012 (and indeed ever), hitting more than 810,000 retweets and gathering more than 300,000 favourites by users.

Pope Benedict XVI opened a twitter account in 2012, Surpassing the 1m followers mark on December 13. His first tweet was retweeted more than 57,000 times in 24 hours.

London 2012 was the most talked about event on Twitter, with more than 150m tweets during the summer Games. The closing ceremony amassed 116,000 tweets per minute (a record at the time) and Usain Bolt was the most-discussed athlete after his 200m win, gathering 80,000 tweets per minute.

The announcement that Obama had won re-election to the White House sparked Twitter users to absolutely smash the tweets per minute record. At peak there were 327,000 tweets per minute, nearly three times the previous record.

The ‘highest’ and ‘lowest’ tweets were sent in 2012 with Japanese mountaineer Nobukazu Kuriki tweeting his way up Mount Everest; this tweet was sent at 7,500m above sea level and director James Cameron tweeted from the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 35,755 feet beneath the sea.


In October, Facebook surpassed 1bn monthly active users, with more than 1.13trn ‘Likes’, 219bn photos shared and 17bn check-ins since launch.

There were an estimated 1,424,657 breakups every day on Facebook in 2012 based on relationship status changes. On the flip side, there are 1,041,095 people every day who change their status to ‘In a relationship’.

Facebook began its crackdown on fake accounts this year, with Zynga’s Texas HoldEm Poker page losing 96,317 Likes as a result in one day. FarmVille was also a huge loser, down 45,693 Likes and pop star Justin Bieber’s page lost 17,980 Likes.

Obama continued to set social media records this year, as the photo of he and his wife, Michelle, sharing a hug on his re-election day gathered more than 2.9m Likes to become the most-liked photo ever on Facebook.

Facebook revamped its focus on small businesses, revealing that more than 300,000 business-owned pages had promoted more than 2.5m posts since June of this year.


Call of Duty: Black Ops II hit US$1bn in sales in just 15 days, beating the previous media record of 17 days held by Avatar and another Call of Duty instalment, Modern Warfare 3. The game hit US$500m in sales in the first 24 hours

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy overtook the seven Harry Potter books to become the best-selling book series on Amazon.co.uk. The books sold more than 4m copies in print and on the Kindle e-reader since going on sale in March.

Not quite up to the level of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4 gathered US$300m in global sales in its first week. This brings the total lifetime sales of the Halo franchise to beyond US$3.38bn.

Employment in the Irish-based video games industry has increased 91pc since 2009 to a current estimated total of 3,344 workers and has generated revenues of €2bn since 2001.

The new Nintendo console, the Wii U, went on sale on 18 November, reportedly selling 400,000 units in its first week.

Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft jostle for top spot. Sony announced it had sold 70m PlayStation 3 consoles, putting it level with the number of XBox 360 units Microsoft had sold worldwide.