The technology industry bounced back from a recession year in 2009 with a slew of new products and innovations in 2010. Much of the attention was focused on mobile devices and cloud computing, and the technology world's largest players were driving many of its biggest innovations.
I've put together a list of five companies that I think have been most important innovators this year. Three of them are among the largest publicly-traded technology companies on the planet - Microsoft, Apple, and Cisco - and the other two are titans of the Internet - Google and Amazon.
Some may ask why Amazon is on this list since the company is best known as an Internet retailer, but I'd list them as a tech company because their real business is e-commerce technology and the company is also rapidly becoming a cloud computing juggernaut with Amazon Web Services and a device and software maker with the rise of the Kindle.
Here's how I would rate the most important tech innovators of the year. Apple gets the top spot mostly on the power of the iPad, which despite being overhyped, still pushed the tech world forward with a new take on the tablet computer that has attracted the masses. Cisco gets number two because it continues to effectively transform itself from an Internet pipe plumber into a powerhouse of modern communications that consistently pushes digital collaboration forward.
Which of these five do think did the most to push the tech world forward in 2010? Vote in the poll and then jump into the discussion to explain your reasoning, or to tell why you would nominate a different candidate instead.
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Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).