As you've all no doubt read by now, the 2009 Nobel in Physics was awarded to Charles K. Kao, for the development of truly low loss fiber optics (a technology that you're all using right now, unless the internet backbone in your country consists of smoke signals or semaphore flags), and Willard Boyle + George Smith for the invention of the CCD (charge-coupled device, which is the basis for all digital cameras, and has revolutionized spectroscopy).
The CCD portion makes a tremendous amount of sense. CCDs work by using local gates on a doped semiconductor wafer to capture charge generated by the absorption of light. The charge is then shifted to an amplifier and the resulting voltage pulses are converted into a digital signal that can be interpreted by a computer. The description given in the supporting document (pdf) on the Nobel website is very good. CCDs have revolutionized astronomy and spectroscopy as well as photography, and the physics that must be understood and controlled in order to get these things to work well is quite rich (not just the charge generation process, but the solid state physics of screening, transport, and carrier trapping).
The fiber optic portion is more tricky, since many people have worked on the development of fiber optic communications. Still, Kao had the insight that the real limitation on light propagation in fiber came from particular types of impurities, understood the physics of those impurities, guided a program toward clean material, and had the vision to see where this could all lead.
Certainly there will be grumbling from some that these are <sneer>engineering</sneer> accomplishments rather than essential physics, as if having a practical impact with your science that leads to technology and helps society is somehow dirty, second-rate, or a sign of intellectual inferiority. That is a terrible attitude, and I'm not just saying that because my bachelor's degree is in engineering. Trust me: some engineers have just as much raw intellectual horsepower as high energy theoretical physicists. Finding intellectual fulfillment in engineering is not some corruption of pure science - it's just how some very smart people prefer to spend their time. Oh, by the way, the actual will of Alfred Nobel refers to accomplishments that "shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind", and specifically mentions "the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention [my emphasis] within the field of physics".
Finally, this provides yet another data point on just how transformative Bell Labs (and other remarkable industrial R&D labs, including IBM, GE, and others) really was in the physical sciences. The withering of long-term industrial research will be felt for a long, long time to come.