The big story of '07? The iPhone, according to readers

Last week, we asked readers to weigh in via our QuickPoll on the top tech stories of 2007. The five choices included the new Apple Inc. iPhone; Facebook's Beacon brouhaha; Google's Android platform plans; the release of Leopard and Vista from Apple and Microsoft, respectively; and the TJX data breach.

Seems like tech news is in the hand of the beholder, as the late-June debut of the iPhone was tagged by almost 40% of those who answered our poll as the big story of the year. Given the media coverage the little device got, that makes sense. Readers were also worried about data breaches, pointing to the massive theft of data from TJX as the second biggest story; Just under 30% thought that was the big news. Behind that, 23% of survey respondents pointed to the releases of Vista and Leopard from Microsoft and Apple, respectively. Only 4.7% were concerned about Facebook's privacy issues vis-a-vis its Beacon tracking "service." And even fewer, 3.1%, pointed to the Android mobile platform unveiled in November by Google.

The lack of attention to Facebook and its seemingly pervasive attempts to track user movements online and then publicize them surprises me. When Facebook users found out what the site was up to, they were furious. Facebook eventually backed down, sort of, offering up a way for users to opt-out. But the incident was a clear reminder of how easily privacy protections on the Web can disappear. I thought that would be seen as a wake-up call for lots of online users of social networking sites. Maybe they're not focused on it, or figure their privacy has been blown for so long that worrying about its loss down the road is a non-issue.

Am I just paranoid in thinking that online privacy -- and the potential loss thereof -- will be a big issue in the years to come, whether it's from social networking sites, data thefts or government intercepts? I don't know what's worse: user disinterest, corporate greed or government instrusions. But the combination of all three isn't reassuring.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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