Meet the TIME Invention of the Year: The iPhone
November 6, 2007 11:02 AM
TIME has picked its winner for the most revolutionary invention of the year and its not a cancer drug, its the iPhone.
magazine picks a person of the year and an invention of the year. This year it went for a democratic process for the
invention of the year
via web-based voting.
The results will likely be controversial. The invention of the year is the...iPhone. While 2007, may be known to many
as the year of iBrick,
writer Lev Grossman glosses over the negatives and lavishes praise upon the iPhone.
"Yes, there's been a lot of hype written about the iPhone, and a lot of guff too. So much so that it seems weird to add more, after Danny Fanboy and Bobby McBlogger have had their day. But when that day is over, Apple's iPhone is still the best thing invented this year," states Grossman.
Grossman is eager to overlook Apple's less favorable press, which is not even explicitly mentioned in his article --
class action lawsuits
. Instead he focuses on why he thinks the iPhone is the most revolutionary thing invented in 2007.
His first reason is that "It is pretty". That is literally his first reason, no you did not read wrong. Grossman argues that beauty is something that is frequently lost in the field of electronics. He describes the iPhones functions saying, "An example: look at what happens when you put the iPhone into ‘airplane’ mode (i.e., no cell service, WiFi, etc.). A tiny little orange airplane zooms into the menu bar! Cute, you might say. But cute little touches like that are part of what makes the iPhone usable in a world of useless gadgets."
The second reason Grossman gives is because it is "touchy-feely." Grossman states that Apple did not invent or even reinvent the touch screen, but rather knew what to do with it. To some extent few can argue this point with him -- even Apple's harshest critics would mostly agree the fully touch driven interface is at least somewhat original.
Grossman goes on to state that the iPhone will make other phones better. It will do so by encouraging phones to adopt AT&T/Apple-esque contracts. Grossman skips over any negatives to the consumer and enthusiastically hails these contracts as providing the hardware developer (in this case Apple) with unprecedented freedom, which he feels leads to great products (like the iPhone).
Grossman also argues that it is a platform that will be built upon. He points to the applications already running on it, such as Google Maps. He also points out that third party applications will be coming in 2008,
. He fails to mention, though, that if you currently try to fill your iPhone with third party applications and you update your firmware update, you will be the owner of a new iBrick.
Finally Grossman points out that the iPhone is only the first of many phones to come. The iPhone, having sold 1.4 million units during Apple's
, has had sufficient success to warrant hardware refreshes akin to the iPod. Grossman points out, accurately, how far the iPod has evolved from its early clunky ancestors.
So there you have it -- your
invention of the year is neither a new medical treatment nor a new space engine or plane -- the invention of the year is Apple's controversial iPhone. Will the public agree with
's pick? Will Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs be
's man of the year? Will they even care? The answers are still up in the air. However the real debate lies among the technophiles and the consumers, who ultimately decide whether the iPhone is the most revolutionary invention of 2008, or just a closed-system replete with draconian restraints. The future success of the iPhone rests on their decision.
(For those interested, one of the cooler runners-up was WowWee's remote control
, weighing it at about 1 oz. and as the world's first commercially available ornithopter. It is available for only a scant $50 USD and features a flight time of 6 minutes on a 20 min charge)
"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs
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