Ladies and gentlemen, there can be no mistake – that time of year is once again upon us. Unexpected snowfalls amuse the young and frustrate the old, city centres teem with throngs of busy shoppers, and television listings start to look oddly familiar with their mix of Disney, Bond, Capra and, of course, The Great Escape. Yes, the festive period is now well underway…

It is also the time for reflection, as thoughts turn to the imminent passing of 2010 from present moment into something far less tangible. In a few more weeks we will once again switch our attention to the future, projecting our wishes and plans into the blank canvas of 2011, but for now we will roll 2010 around our mouth for just a moment longer, savouring and contemplating it one last time before moving on.

This I think is really what all those end of year ‘best/worst/funniest/etc’ lists are all about (that, and the need to produce something for a deadline) – and so, in the spirit of the season, we here are etonDIGITAL are also pondering the year that is soon to disappear irrevocably into the hazy mists of time.

All in all, we’ve had another busy 12 months which have seen the completion of various projects, large and small, from TallyFox to Synapse, BoxTop technologies to the new AnaIvanovic.com and plenty more. Our team has continued to expand – we now have twenty-five developers – and the growth of the company has also been reflected in the launch of a lovely new homepage which, like its predecessor, has featured in numerous online galleries.

On the blog too, there’s been plenty of lively discussions and a variety of topics covered. In terms of companies, the major players on our minds were, perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple and Facebook. Apple continued to go from strength to strength with their iPad launch, officially bringing tablet computing into the mainstream (developers take note!) and signalling an ominous future ahead for the net-book. They even somehow survived a slightly below-par performance with dodgy iPhone 4 aerials, to see iTunes take the spotlight as the year drew to a close and an absolute shedload of Beatles singles and albums were purchased by patient fans who’d waited years for the band to finally arrive on the platform.

Meanwhile Facebook continued to develop at a significant pace – seeing the expansion of its mobile functionality with location-based app, Places, and then overtaking the 500 million user mark so quickly that the 600 m hurdle seems an imminent certainty, while Zuckerberg himself  claimed Time magazine’s person of the year award just last week. Also worth mentioning was the staggering infiltration of Facebook across the rest of the web – namely aided by their eponymous ‘Like’ button, which we quickly learned was pretty good news for boosting traffic.

Not that there hasn’t been the odd scandal – the data portability disputes with Google continued, and were evident in a controversial Chrome app which briefly allowed contacts to be ported from Facebook – before it mysteriously disappeared. Then there was the alpha launch of privacy conscious rival Diaspora, though perhaps this was really more of a curiosity rather than a game-changer as they say…

In addition we had the high profile announcement of Facebook messages, not far after Google abandoned a similar project, Wave, which also sought to streamline the various strands of internet text-based communication into one universal medium. Aside from its abandoning of the Wave project, Google also endured a few other torrid episodes, including some unfortunate PR by way of incidents in Italy and China especially, before they eventually pulled their operation in the latter territory.

However, it wasn’t all bad for Google – in fact it was mostly all good apart from those few issues mentioned above. In the smartphone market they continued to show significant growth in their market share (aided by lots of free apps), and we learned that you could now make your own app with the developer kit without ever needing to write a single line of code. On the subject of apps, we offered some showcases of a few top specimens out there, not only for Android, but also for Blackberry.

Elsewhere we watched as Internet Explorer continued to be the butt of many a nerdy joke – before finally hitting back with IE9 – seemingly a genuinely promising browser, and the first IE in a while to not get slated immediately by reviewers. Bing however came out slightly worse for wear after Google briefly experimented with coloured backgrounds for their search function, so another case of ‘swings and roundabouts’ for Microsoft. Likewise, in the world of gadgets, Amazon’s Kindle finally started to boast highly enviable sales stats (‘Apple-esque’ I might even venture) in large part due to an iPad-desire-quashing price tag of only 109 GBP.

Finally, some pretty significant developments for the IT and tech industry in the UK were announced, namely in the form of the UK digital economy bill during the summer and, more recently, with Ed Vaizey’s overhaul of the rules governing ISP’s right to manipulate bandwidth on a site by site basis.

And so on… there was plenty more which got the discussion going on the blog, from social media and marketing, to SEO and 404 pages and pros and cons of PHP which I won’t go into in full; suffice it so say that our archive has it all so have a gander if you fancy catching up with some more comments and analysis of the year’s developments. All that remains for me to say is simply to wish all our clients and partners a lovely Christmas and all the best for the coming year :)