Like the versions before it, the iPhone 5—"the thinnest, lightest, fastest iPhone" since, well, the last one—drove plenty of obsession among Apple fans.
A record $656 million Mega Millions drawing spurred unprecedented sales of lottery tickets.
"The Hunger Games," a film version of the 2008 young adult novel by Suzanne Collins starring Jennifer Lawrence, became an obsession for plenty of American moviegoers in 2012, grossing more than $400 million at the U.S. box office.
Pint-sized beauty pageant contestant Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson captivated America in 2012 as the TLC reality show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" took us behind the scenes of the Boo Boo family—whether we liked it or not.
"Fifty Shades of Grey," the first book in a trilogy of "Twilight"-inspired fan-fiction bondage erotica by E.L. James, became an underground reading obsession for millions of women in 2012.
One Direction, a five-member English-Irish boy band, took North America by storm, selling more than 15 million albums and inspiring more than a few comparisons to the "British Invasion" of the 1960s.
"Call Me Maybe," a catchy teen pop tune by Canadian singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen, became part of the pop culture landscape, thanks to lip-dub versions that went viral.
"Gangnam Style," a music video featuring the infectious, meme-ready dance moves of a little-known South Korean rapper named Psy, became the most-watched video in YouTube history in 2012, racking up more than 815 million views and knocking Justin Bieber off the most-viewed throne.
The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, on April 12, highlighted our collective obsession with the British passenger liner's fateful maiden voyage.
Top Stories of 2012
1. President Barack Obama earned a second term after defeating Republican challenger Mitt Romney. America's first black president vowed to finish the job he started four years ago.
2. Singer and actress Whitney Houston was found dead in a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel. Houston had overcome a public battle with drug addiction and was returning to the big screen with "Sparkle."
3. Hurricane Sandy swept through the East Coast, leaving 128 people dead and causing an estimated $71 billion in damage. The superstorm destroyed seaside amusement parks in New York and New Jersey.
4. Gas prices went on a roller-coaster ride in some parts of the country. 2012 saw some places with near-record-high prices that would dip, only to rise again.
5. George Zimmerman was charged in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman claimed he was attacked by the young man, who was wearing a hoodie. Trayvon was unarmed.
6. In one of the deadliest shootings in the U.S., a gunman opened fire in a theater in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded. The suspect, James Holmes was charged in the killings.
7. Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, was found guilty of sexually abusing young men. He not only ruined the lives of his victims, he also tarnished the storied university.
8. Joran van der Sloot was sentenced to 28 years in prison after pleading guilty to the 2010 murder of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman he met in Lima. He was a suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
9. 26 Killed in Sandy Hook Village in Newtown, Connecticut on December 18, 2012 at an Elementary school.
10. A gruesome attack by Rudy Eugene on homeless man Ronald Poppo blind and missing pieces of his face. Eugene was eventually shot and killed by a police officer. The attack appeared random.
Top Searches on Yahoo of 2012
1. President Obama, and Americans, survived a grueling election season. Across the nation, the 2012 races broke records for spending, early-voter turnout, and registration of key demographic groups.
2. A crowded smartphone market didn't sway Apple fans from the iPhone 5. Within 24 hours of its launch, the company received more than 2 million preorders, breaking its own sales records.
3. Kim Kardashian: An ongoing divorce dispute, a romance with rapper Kanye West, and the renewal of her reality show all helped propel Kim Kardashian into the ranks of the most-searched person on Yahoo!.
4. The social media savvy Kate Upton had roles in "The Heist" and "The Three Stooges" comedies, but her nonspeaking part as the cover girl for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition developed her following.
5. Kate Middleton embarked on her new royal duties in 2012, with appearances at Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee and the London Games, although a paparazzi cheap shot really got people's attention.
6. At once shocking and yet not unexpected, legendary singer Whitney Houston was found dead at age 48 from an accidental drowning in a hotel bathtub. An autopsy later found drugs in her system.
7. Held in London this year, the Olympics drew millions to its long-favored sports (gymnastics, diving) as well as new ones (women's boxing). Social media also became a part of the event, for better and worse.
8. Political polls became not only a Web habit, but also the story themselves, as established pollsters' methodologies were questioned and algo-geek Nate Silver performed a statistical sweep.
9. A Top 10 denizen from 2005-2008, Lindsay Lohan has seen a turnaround of sorts this year, although not without some setbacks.
10. Jennifer Lopez: After a nine-year absence, Jennifer Lopez reappeared in Top Searches in 2011, when the singer-actress became a judge on "American Idol." This year included a new movie, tour, album, and beau.
Top Scandals of 2012
1. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was forced into legal action when a French magazine published photos of her sunbathing on holiday.
2. The battle over the Michael Jackson estate and custody of his children (pictured L-R: Prince, Blanket and Paris) raged all summer, with siblings Jermaine and Janet trying to make peace with their mother, Katherine.
3. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency came forward with strong accusations against Lance Armstrong, who lost millions when sponsors dropped him.
4. General David Petraeus resigned from his post as CIA director after an investigation revealed an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
5. Sean Payton and Gregg Williams were both suspended by the NFL after accusations that the New Orleans Saints instituted a bounty program to reward injuring opponents.
6. Bobby Petrino was fired as Arkansas' football coach after a motorcycle accident involving his 25-year-old mistress, who was also a university employee.
7. Nearly a dozen Secret Service agents were fired or resigned after an investigation showed wide-spread use of prostitutes in Colombia.
8. The BBC came under scrutiny when it was discovered they refused to air an investigation into the late Jimmy Savile, a popular network personality who has been implicated in decades of child molestation.
9. A new commander was put in place of the Lackland Air Force base after an investigation revealed supervisors were guilty of sexual harassment and rape of female trainees.
10. Stocks for JPMorgan Chase & Co. saw stocks drop in value nearly 20 billion, after the company disclosed its losses. Its stocks soon rebounded back to normal levels by autumn.
Space News Was BIG In 2012
Curiosity, an SUV-sized science lab on wheels, inched its way across the surface of Mars as it beamed pictures back to Earth of the red planet's horizon, rocks, and craters, and even a few of itself.
An annular solar eclipse, during which the moon and the sun are directly aligned, occurred in May 2012. Six months later, a total eclipse of the sun was seen by millions throughout parts of the Earth.
Felix Baumgartner, an extreme athlete, took a major and record-breaking plunge. He jumped from the edge of the Earth's atmosphere—23 miles above—and landed safely after deploying a parachute after the free fall.
After more than 130 missions, the four remaining space shuttles of NASA's fleet found their way to their final resting places after being flown, placed on transport vehicles, and then hauled through streets to museums and science centers.
A pioneering astronaut and the first person to step onto the moon, Neil Armstrong will be remembered for leaving his footprints on the lunar surface and inspiring future generations to take larger leaps in space exploration.
Private space agency SpaceX took over part of the workload of servicing the International Space Station. In October, a SpaceX rocket docked and delivered a load of cargo and scientific experiments to the orbiting space station.
The solar system's second planet paced across the face of the sun while millions around the globe watched. The rare event named the "Transit of Venus" happens usually only once in a lifetime, and once helped early astronomers map the distance between the Earth and sun.
In August of 2012, there were two full moons. The unusual second full moon in a month on Aug. 31 was a spectacularly cool so-called blue moon.
Celebrities Who Struggled
Lindsay Lohan. Since the beginning of 2012, the actress has been accused of striking a man with her car in NYC (she was arrested in the September incident, but not charged), getting into two separate fights several days apart at The Standard Hotel in West Hollywood, and crashing her car into a big rig. She also was investigated by police in a $100K jewelry theft at her friend’s home, claimed she was attacked by a man she brought back to her NYC hotel room (cops later said there was no evidence of that), and most recently, is in jeopardy of having her probation revoked, accused of lying to police about that June crash. And that’s just the major stuff! She also showed up late to film a guest spot on “Glee” and did not know her lines, fell into such a deep sleep on the set of “Liz & Dick” that paramedics had to be called to the scene, claimed people were overreacting about Hurricane Sandy before it struck, and canceled her interview with Barbara Walters at the last minute.
Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted that he had fathered a son with his family’s longtime housekeeper.
Amanda Bynes, in April, got arrested on charges of DUI, accused of striking a police cruiser following a night of partying in West Hollywood, Calif.
Donald Trump, In October, Trump turned his sights on Barack Obama, whom he has long-accused of not really being American. He challenged the president to release his college transcripts, which would contain his passport information, in exchange for Trump donating $5 million to the charity of Obama’s choice.