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In the first of a two-part feature, we take a look back at the events and news that made 2008 one of the most important in the channel's history. Today, Andrew Wooden take a look at the first half of the year?

2008: The Year That Was

January

As the retailers reeled from Red Alert shopping days and too much turkey, they were hit with the news that arch-enemies Dell and Tesco had joined forces to put the former’s XPS and Inspiron PCs in Tesco stores. This followed a similar deal with DSGi a few months earlier.

Speaking of DSGi, the group suffered a share drop of more than 20 per cent during January, following poor Christmas trading. Meanwhile the annual mammoth technology museum that is CES came and went. Among the numerous product launches, if one theme was to be pulled out of the show it would be the large amount of touchscreen technology being shown off – a trend which would hold particular significance later in the year with the iPhone mania.

Elsewhere in Las Vegas, the now defunct battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD raged, and swathes of firms clamoured to show off their green policies.

February

This month saw the end of the format wars, as it was revealed that Blu-ray reached two million sales in 2007 – taking a massive 79 per cent of the next-gen DVD market. Soon after HD-DVD was declared dead, as backer Toshiba threw in the towel after what seemed like decades of tussling for the top spot.

Software giant Microsoft made its first bid for Yahoo, in what would prove to be one of the most drawn out takeover bids in the tech sector’s history.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed Andy Dow was consolidating his position as channel director at Dell UK. One of his chief initial messages was that the vendor’s decision not to use distribution firms would be good for the industry as a whole, as it would promote better relations between manufacturers and retail.

March

The first PC Retail Awards smashed onto the scene in March, with over 300 dealers, distributors, and suppliers descending on London’s Café Royal for the first ceremony dedicated to the computer retail channel.

Winners on the night included Gem – which took away the Grand Prix award, Enta – which won the Sales Innovation and Sales Team: Business prizes, and YOYOTech – which claimed the Independent Retailer crown.

CeBIT launched with a new format, proving more popular than ever. Organisers Deutsche Messe managed to get 495,000 visitors through the door to ogle at the tech on show from 5,845 exhibitors. One of the most popular products on show was the new Eee PC from Asus.

However, the event was slightly marred when 180 police officers and customs officials raided the show, targeting 51 exhibitors in suspicion of audio and video function related patent violations, resulting in the seizure of 68 boxes of documents, products and advertising material.

April

After making an impressive 31 per cent yearly growth on its consumer electronic division – largely pushed by laptop sales – Tesco was making bullish claims on its presence in the computing sector in April, prompting defiant cries from the independent sector and retail chains.

UK-based consumer software stalwart GSP officially changed its name to Avanquest Software Publishing – the final stage of its incremental rebranding, which had been happening since Avanquest Software acquired the firm in May the previous year.

Following speculation from numerous internet sources, AMD officially confirmed it was to axe ten per cent of its 16,800 strong global workforce – a move the firm blamed on lower revenue expectations in ‘uncertain market conditions’.

May

Channel Expo returned for its second year under the new format at Birmingham’s NEC. Over 100 exhibitors from across the country pitched up to show off their products to the 6,500 registered visitors, with new features such as the How To Sell Theatre proving popular additions.

While the channel was in the mood for trade shows, Retail Vision kicked off in Rome in the same month, having been recently bought by Everything Channel. The event continued its tradition of tightly focused exhibitor and visitor lists, while organisers hinted to PC Retail a UK show might be on the way.

Microsoft broke radio silence on Windows 7 following predictable mass speculation on the internet. The chief piece of information at the time appeared to be the touchscreen functionality (supported by the sample images). Since then, the drip feed information appears to be slightly taking the peddle off this emphasis, but at the time numerous parallels were drawn to Apples’ iPhone interface.

June

After setting up one of the most lucrative firms in history and doing perhaps more than anyone for making IT the massively pervasive worldwide industry it is today, Bill Gates stepped down from the day-to-day running of Microsoft.

Steve Ballmer stepped up to the plate as CEO, while it was made clear Gates’ role in the future would chiefly be in an advisory capacity.

DSGi suffered a 30 per cent profit drop, leading many to jump to the attack and question its long-term viability. The retailer remained bullish however, citing a restructure plan as integral to its recovery.

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