Key Points:

To mark the tenth anniversary of, we're rounding up some of the highs and lows of the last decade. Below we look at some of the technology innovations that have changed our lives since 1998.


Gone are those nasty dial-up days of plugging 56k modems into shaky phone lines and hoping for the best; or precariously balancing laptops while avoiding pulling the plug on the internet connection.



was first mooted in the late 90s, but has now come of age, with many homes now running wireless networks to cope with multiple devices requiring internet connections.

Free hotspots are dotted around major cities, meaning you no longer need to go far to check email.

State-owned Kordia has the country's largest wholesale

, in Auckland, but it's no free ride, with operator Tomizone charging $3 an hour or $6.50 a day for access.


Sure, it's not the only MP3 player out there, but when Apple's iPod first

, no one could have predicted the mammoth success that it has become - racking up 173 million unit sales by September last year.

It's come a long way from the humble, mono-screened beginnings, evolving from a hard drive spinner to flash-memory packing devices that range from the near-pointless Shuffle to the video-capable Nano and the flagship

, which connects to Wi-Fi networks to let users surf the net as well as play games and play with GoogleMaps.

Then there's the so-called 'Jesus phone' - the

, which adds a cellphone and next-gen internet capability to the Touch.


Need to know anything? Google it. A late arrival to the lucrative world of internet search, Google was the result of Larry Page and Sergey Brin's research project at Stamford in 1996. The company launched two years later and is currently the king of all things search, with a market share of 62.9 per cent and handling up to five billion searches each month.

The company has managed to expand into many different tech spaces with projects like its open source

and the

and voyeur's delight

, all released in 2008. It also celebrated its

last year.

Google has managed to become such a household name that we had one technologically-challenged caller to asking earnestly about the 'Google Internets'. Bless.

Digital cameras

Digital cameras have come a long, long way in the past decade. In 1999, a 2.7 megapixel digital SLR would set you back in the region of $25,000 - and that was just for the body. The staggering pricing of these early digitals made them strictly pro-only.

, and while high-end DSLRs like Nikon's D3X and Canon's D1 Mk3 will set you back close to $10,000; point-and-click, zoom-capable eight megapixel compact digital cameras cost less than $400.

Most cellphones feature a built-in camera these days, but there really is no substitute for a

for ease of use and quality of results. Bundled software has improved alongside price, and now anyone with half a brain can tackle simple photo-editing.

Flat screen HDTVs

The whopping great CRT (cathode ray tube) telly has finally gone south, courtesy of rapidly-falling prices for plasma and LCD televisions.

While early plasmas cost the thick end of $20,000 and didn't last the distance and the first LCDs were like watching YouTube video on a slow connection, these days nearly anyone can afford a

that will hang on the wall.

High-def is the new buzz-word, and if you're not watching Blu-ray discs on 1080p resolution, you're not at the cutting edge.

OLEDs are the

, but they're still extraordinarily expensive and don't have the screen real estate.

PlayStation 3

Sony's PlayStation 3 may not be top of the heap in the console gaming world when it comes to market penetration, but in terms of sheer grunt, it's untouchable.

The original PlayStation shook up a stale games market way back in 1994, to be replaced by the fat PlayStation 2 in 1999 and then again by this powerhouse in 2007, six months


Pushing the boundaries of what constitutes a games machine, its 'media centre'-like experience, packing the advanced Cell engine processor and a Blu-ray drive, is game geek paradise. The PS3 will get even more useful this year with the addition of

, which turns the console into a high-def video recorder.


The device that

, is often referred to as CrackBerry because of it incredibly addictive nature.

Its maker Research In Motion took the US by storm, and then set its sights on the rest of the world.

President Barack Obama is arguably the world's most well-known BlackBerry user, and was

when he took over office, causing panic amongst those overseeing White House IT protocols which make any traffic on the phone - email or otherwise - part of public record.

Pioneering BlackBerry, first released in 1999, has

these days, with Google's Android phones and the Apple iPhone eating into its massive market share.


By far the biggest success story of the Web 2.0 world, Facebook

in 2004 and started to change the way we run our lives online.

It was started by baby-faced Mark Zuckerberg, but is still the focus of ongoing lawsuits regarding

. Microsoft bought a small stake in Facebook, which is now estimated to be worth US$15 billion (NZ$27bn).

Part of the Facebook appeal is the ability to add applications to your profile - the most high-profile being Scrabulous, a Scrabble knock off that had half a million users playing every day. It also allows people from past lives to suddenly pop up, wanting to be your friend.

have dogged the site, with many instances of users' personal information being made freely available for anyone to see, recently including pictures of U2 frontman

. IT departments across the globe have blocked the site, which has also been criticised for taking up too much of worker's time.


Started in 2000 by Jimmy Wales, who also gave us one of the

in internet history, this free encyclopedia that anyone can contribute to has enabled a whole new level of online cooperation. Recently users of non-profit Wikipedia banded together to raise US$6 million (NZ$10 million) for its serving and upkeep.

But it hasn't all been plain sailing - with criticism often levelled at accuracy of the information in its entries. A tool called

, thinking they'd never get caught.

Google had a crack at the Wiki world too, with its equivalent

knowledge base, which hasn't attracted anywhere near the audience that the Larry and Sergey show usually enjoys.

Local loop unbundling

New Zealand is a fair way behind the eight-ball when it comes to high-speed broadband, but

is the best that's happened to improving internet access.

The Commerce Commission ruled that Telecom had to allow other telecommunications companies to put their own equipment in local exchanges, meaning voice and ADSL services could be


The result of LLU is more choice for consumers and has, over the past two years, drastically improved the quality of New Zealand broadband, as outlined in our last