Dec 30, 2009
Picks of the decade
* Speedy surfing
Internet usage has exploded, with more than 1.7 billion people using the Internet. An estimated 350 million are broadband or high-speed Internet users, allowing for seamless surfing, voice calls over the Internet and fast downloading of music and videos.
* Google it
The search engine began in 1996 as a research project, became a household name in the 2000s, and is now the most used of its kind on the Web. Google also offers services such as free-to-user e-mail, online mapping, social networking and video-sharing services. It runs thousands of servers across the world, processing millions of search requests each day.
The free, open-source encyclopaedia has 14 million articles in various languages, written by volunteers all over the world. Launched in 2001, it is the largest and most widely used body of general reference online.
Unveiled in 2001, Apple's portable music player pioneered downloadable music, as well as Web services to supply music and multimedia, paving the way for the touchscreen iPhone and e-books such as the Kindle.
* Digital images
With digital cameras getting smaller and cheaper while producing ever more detailed images, they have far overtaken film cameras in popularity. Photos and videos can be seen and uploaded immediately, all the better to post them online to share with the world.
* Computers on the run
Smartphones, basically mobile phones with the brains and brawn of computers, are prized by users on the move. There were more than 450 million mobile Internet users this year, according to global marketing intelligence firm IDC.
* Shopping was never better
Online shopping and auction sites such as eBay allow people to buy and sell virtually anything worldwide. More than 624 million Internet users will have bought something online this year, spending nearly US$8 trillion (S$11 trillion).
* You're a star
YouTube, founded in 2005 by friends who wanted to share videos with pals, has transformed into a viral video website with 58 million people posting amateur movie clips. Popular videos receive millions of hits and thousands of comments.
* Going social
Blogs took the Net by storm, with people from all walks of life contributing news, comments and diaries via their own Web logs. Networking site Facebook, formed five years ago, now has 350 million users worldwide who add friends, send messages and update their profiles on the site. Twitter, a micro-blogging site which restricts messages to 140 characters or fewer, has garnered 40 million followers since it was launched.
Martin Koh/ Sherry Tang