IEEE Spectrum: Technology Winners & Losers 2009

In the January 2009 issue of IEEE Spectrum: WINNERS & LOSERS 2009, The Year’s Best and Worst of Technology. The articles are available in HTML and PDF formats.

Lists are fun, but sometimes they’re just a little too easy: Bill Gates is rich, Harvard’s a fine school, and China’s economy is hot. Tell us something we don’t know.

This year’s Winners & Losers issue, our sixth, aims to do just that. We judge a range of projects so near to commercialization that we might be proved wrong in real time. That would mean eating crow, but you risk it if you hope to grow a backbone strong enough to hold up your head. Most people in our business refuse to run that risk; instead, they pontificate on what’s already happened. They find all sorts of reasons why, in retrospect, something succeeded or failed.

We use information in the public record and the insights we gather from people close to the research itself. We make sure every project has commercial ambitions, that it’s in a late stage of development, and that it faces milestones in the coming year. That way, if we turn out to be wrong, you’ll remember our mistake and call us on it. When we truly can’t decide whether a project’s a winner or loser, we put it in a category we call You Tell Us. We’ve posted it on our Web site so that you can vote on it, thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

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