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By Douglas MacMillan
It may have been the year of the rat on the Chinese calendar, but most everywhere in the world it was the year of the smartphone. Apple (AAPL) led the charge, updating its bestselling iPhone with innovative new software and hardware, while Research In Motion (RIMM) and Google (GOOG) dipped their toes into the smartphone space with daring designs of their own.
The year in tech had its share of superb follow-ups, like the practical and hip Flip Mino camera and Mozilla's instantly popular Firefox 3. But there were plenty of spectacular surprises as well, from Google's out-of-left-field Web browser to Netflix's entrance into the hardware business.
Read on for the 20 best tech products of 2008, as selected by BusinessWeek's technology writers and editors, as well as five highly anticipated products that failed to meet expectations.