This past year saw few breakthrough tech products, but it was anything but a boring year in tech.
Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA snooping and HealthCare.gov's troubles were big stories, as were Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's retirement announcement and Apple's fall from grace.
While we didn't see any new tech products comparable to the iPad or iPhone, we did see plenty of interesting new gadgets, from Google Glass to long-awaited game consoles from Sony and Microsoft.
Here's a look at some of the top news in consumer technology in 2013:
Snowden's secrets: There had been reports dating back to at least 2005 that the government was spying en masse on the communications of American citizens. But the documents released by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, showed just how far-reaching surveillance has become.
According to the Snowden revelations, the NSA has infiltrated most of the major technologies and services that consumers use on a regular basis. It gleans data from all of the major Internet companies, sometimes without their knowledge. It collects so-called metadata on U.S. citizens' communications. It monitors users' browsers and uses cellphone data to track users' locations.
The revelations have huge implications for consumer technology companies and customers. Perhaps the biggest threat is that they could Balkanize the Internet, persuading other countries that they need to either disconnect from the network or distance themselves from American users and companies.
Obamacare's rough start: It seemed a great idea: a website that would allow consumers required to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act to shop for coverage.
But the reality turned out ugly. In the days after it launched, HealthCare.gov was unavailable to most visitors. And those able to get through weren't able to do much. Even a month after launch, the site remained shaky.
After the administration put new leaders in charge, the site gradually has become more stable and sign-ups have increased. But problems have forced the administration to push back deadlines and have harmed the health-reform effort.
Apple's bruises: For more than a decade, Apple has used breakthrough products to drive fast-paced growth. Early last year, its annual sales were growing by nearly 60%.
But by the middle of 2013, Apple's overall sales growth had come to a halt as the company saw declines on many products. Even a refreshed lineup may not help; the iPhone 5c appeared to be a dud.
Apple's fortunes rebounded in the second half of the year, when its stock recovered the ground it lost earlier in 2013 and the company concluded a long-awaited deal with carrier giant China Mobile to offer the iPhone. But it still faced pressure from investors, notably Carl Icahn, who was pressuring the company to pay out more of its stockpile of cash.
Wintel in transition: We knew going into 2013 that it would be Paul Otellini's last at Intel. We didn't know it also would be Steve Ballmer's last full year at Microsoft.
Ten years ago, those companies occupied the center of the PC-dominated technology world. Today, with PC sales declining and the sales of smartphones and tablets booming, Intel and Microsoft seem to be operating at the margins.
Despite years of effort under Otellini, Intel remains a bit player in chips for smartphones and tablets. Similarly, Microsoft under Ballmer has struggled to find a market for Windows outside of traditional PCs.
It remains to be seen whether their successors will have more luck turning around their organizations. But Ballmer's departure could portend big change for his company and its millions of customers.
Game on: The move to a new generation of consoles didn't really take off until this fall's release of Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One.
With the rise of social, mobile and browser-based multiplayer games, console-based gaming may seem passe. But while consoles no longer are the primary focal point of gaming, they still draw huge crowds. Each of the new consoles likely will sell in the tens of millions. That popularity makes them highly influential. Many of the games consumers enjoy on smartphones and tablets originally were written for consoles.
What tech are you wearing? For years, futurists anticipated wearable devices — computing or communications gadgets that could be worn like clothing. Those visions have started to become reality.
Pebble offered a pioneering smartwatch that can display updates and other information from a smartphone. Google, meanwhile, started shipping Glass, its eyeglasslike computer that has the potential to replace smartphones entirely. And companies from Samsung to Epson joined the fray, introducing wearables of their own.
None of the products was an immediate hit, but they offered a hint at what the wearable future might look like.
Troy Wolverton is a technology columnist for the San Jose Mercury News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @troywolv. Read more from him at www.siliconbeat.com/ author/twolverton