It’s always interesting, come the end of the year, to take a retrospective look back at the differences between what was predicted and what exactly happened. Did the market researchers guess correctly, or could they not have been more wrong? And was the “next big thing” a huge success, or a needless flash in the pan?

The Macworld reader’s poll succinctly demonstrates this very divide. Whereas in-car satellite navigation systems proved popular (with 18.2% of the votes) and the HD TV revolution (16.3%) marched boldly on, gadgets such as Smartphones(1.7%), VoIP phones(3.4%) and the Robosapien toy (a must have for Christmas, apparently, but managing only 0.4% of your votes) appear to have left many of you rather cold. And, sadly, the most popular answer to the poll “2006 was the year everyone got:” was, “Fed up waiting for things to come out.”, which gained a depressing 25.4% of the votes. It seems that the great wheels of technology simply don’t turn fast enough for many of you…

Apart from the disappointment you showed at release dates always seeming too far away (the words “PlayStation 3” and “Blu-ray” spring to mind), the most popular answer you gave was “In-Car Sat Nav”. Whether satellite navigation is qualified yet to compete with a traditional navigation system (i.e. a not-half-as-hi-tech road atlas) remains unclear though, as many magazines and newspapers performed experiments that demonstrated their unpredictable nature. When defeated, sat-nav systems at best simply took longer routes than necessary to arrive at their allotted destinations, and at worst led their hapless drivers towards brick walls and rivers. So don’t go throwing away your A to Zs just yet.

Almost as popular, and presumably more reliable, was HD TV. HD TV has at least twice the lineal resolution of standard-definition television, and, along with Freeview boxes and Sky+ (receiving 8.7% of your votes), television as we once knew it has been changed forever.

In another example of technological development becoming a part of everyday life, the websites Youtube and Myspace became household names in 2006. It seemed that everyone and their cat (and possibly even their cat’s fleas) became owners of a Myspace profile (9.8%), and in the survey a very similar number of you reported adding videos to Youtube (10.6%). There are now more than 100 million Myspace users, and the number is said to be growing at a rate of 230,000 a day. Despite being christened the worst website on the internet by for being “counter-productive” and “poorly designed”, Myspace’s domination of the social networking websites currently seems bereft of true competition.

Youtube is 1 per cent higher in the poll than Myspace, at the time of writing. The big story this year concerning the site is the acquisition by Google, which many people fear will lead to chaos for both users and owners alike. The videos uploaded to Youtube vary greatly, many of which are excerpts from copyrighted material, such as music videos, movie clips, and sometimes even full episodes of television programmes. Google is making efforts to remove unauthorised footage, but when approximately 65,000 clips are uploaded each day, it is at present an impossible task to screen each one. Google has set aside $200 million for possible lawsuits that may be filed during its first year of ownership.

The survey showed varying results when it came to handheld technology. Smartphones and VoIP phones proved generally unpopular, amounting to just over 5 per cent of the votes between them. Handheld consoles fared better, however (racking up 5.4%). Many tipped the PSP as a direct competitor to the iPod, due to the fact that as well as its game-playing facilities, the console also stores and plays music and videos. Whether it will ever truly overtake the iPod as a portable media player seems unlikely, though, due to the iPod’s constantly ballooning memory space and constantly changing designs. In my own humble opinion the DS is the better gaming device, despite its lower graphical capacity. The creative minds at Nintendo have assured that many DS games possess a wonderful playability that Sony just can’t quite match.

With the least votes of all, the Robosapien managed to amass less than 1 per cent of your votes. Perhaps Robosapien version 3 will impress you more next year, which will purportedly be able to lift weights as heavy as beer cans and throw lighter objects as far as 10 feet.

Here’s looking to 2007 …