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TIME has picked its winner for the most revolutionary invention of the year and its not a cancer drug, its the iPhone.

Every year, TIME 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 DailyTech readers as the year of iBrick, TIME 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 -- iBricking, iFires, environmental concerns, and 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, as reported by DailyTech.  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 recent quarter, 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 TIME 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 TIME's pick?  Will Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs be TIME'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 FlyTech Dragonfly, 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)



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Perspective
By masher2 (blog) on 11/6/2007 12:15:37 PM , Rating: 6
One can't reasonably knock the choice of iPhone without forwarding your own candidates for invention of the year. What do you think bests it? Post your replies here.

I own an iPhone. I also own a box full of old smartphones (and other hi-tech gadgets) that are nearly unuseable due to poor ergonomics, feature-bloated menus, unintuitive controls, and other problems. What use is a feature if you need a refresher course from the manual every time you want to use it? My own clock radio requires a minimum of 6 button presses on five different buttons (in specific order, no less) just to change the alarm time...and only one of those buttons is labelled anything to do with "alarm" or "time". All my commonly-used functions on my old smartphone were buried in sub-sub-sub menus so convoluted I rarely used it for anything but simply making calls.

The iPhone is a step forward in intuitive useability, in a way that nearly impossibly to explain to someone whose never had one. Had a cure for cancer been invented this year, I'd have been rooting for that instead....but in its stead, I don't see a problem with the choice of the iPhone.




RE: Perspective
By TomZ on 11/6/2007 12:27:18 PM , Rating: 3
My nomination for invention of the year: iPhone Marketing. Forget the product - it's the marketing that is innovative.


RE: Perspective
By PWNettle on 11/6/2007 5:03:08 PM , Rating: 3
I'd agree.

Selling an easier to use gadget that nobody needs is hardly that amazing. But convincing the sheep that they need it is something else.


RE: Perspective
By T4RTER S4UCE on 11/6/07, Rating: 0
RE: Perspective
By cheetah2k on 11/7/2007 12:03:56 AM , Rating: 2
With all the anger and battles being fought between users (such as myself) and the iPhone Dev Teams vs Locked Apple firmware, if Jobs made the iPhone unlocked, he could also win the Nobel Peace Prize....


RE: Perspective
By scrapsma54 on 11/7/2007 5:38:48 PM , Rating: 2
Its that kind of talk that got Al gore the nobel peice prize when he didn't even peaceably solve anything.

Every bit of the iPhone is just a gimick, everything that came standard on it has been out for 10 years in a small innovative package called the Palm pilot. It did not have the fancy colors, the jazzed up animations, or wifi for that matter. But what evolved from it had the stuff that was necessary and included. So look at it this way every time a compatible technology was developed palm jumped on that bandwagon. Palm is more open ended than apple. Innovative, definitely not. Cool factor? 9 out of 10.

Open moko should get the Innovation because its perhaps the first phone with open source.


RE: Perspective
By scrapsma54 on 11/7/2007 5:50:49 PM , Rating: 2
scratch that,
The tesla roadster should get it.


RE: Perspective
By chick0n on 11/12/07, Rating: 0
RE: Perspective
By jtesoro on 11/13/2007 12:41:51 AM , Rating: 2
To quote yourself whenever someone says anything even remotely negative about Vista, have you actually used it?

While I find the choice of Time curious myself, it's also very curious that actual users seem to be very happy with the device. Everyone keeps saying that it's just a phone, the touch screen is nothing new, it's only fancy graphics, and that a ton of other devices can do the same thing, etc. etc.

Valid points all, but at the same time it's able to sell well, get it's users happy and strongly influence the industry. I'm not sure if that's enough to merit the award (and I'm sure there are other products that had similar effects), but dismissing it as purely marketing doesn't sound right to me.


RE: Perspective
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/6/2007 12:41:18 PM , Rating: 2
Gee and here I was thinking quantum computing was 2007's invention of the year :)


RE: Perspective
By Lightning III on 11/6/2007 12:49:35 PM , Rating: 5
I liked the recycling of waste silicon wafers into solar panels

by IBM


RE: Perspective
By masher2 (blog) on 11/6/2007 1:00:06 PM , Rating: 2
But quantum computing has been around since the early 1990s, with innovations and advances seen every year since. 2007 has, barring D-Wave's media circus event, has't been an especially outstanding year on the front.


RE: Perspective
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/6/2007 1:20:01 PM , Rating: 5
I think, in some ways, that was the point I was trying to make. Real inventions and discoveries come along with almost no hype or exposure at all.

I can generally find at least one topic per day that's more revolutionary than the iPhone, but few people outside of DailyTech or the hardcore science community have ever heard of them.

Yesterday:
http://www.dailytech.com/New+Medical+Laser+Turns+V...
Sunday:
http://www.dailytech.com/Carnegie+Mellon+Tartan+Ra...
Saturday:
http://www.dailytech.com/University+Creates+Geneti...

A laser that kills viruses but spares healthy cells, a car that drove itself through a mock town, and mice that are genetically predisposed to aggression and strength.

And that was JUST the last 3 days. The iPhone, which almost does everything my HTC does, wins invention of the year? Way to step up to the ball TIME!


RE: Perspective
By TomZ on 11/6/2007 1:40:17 PM , Rating: 2
This post deserves a +6 rating, IMO. TIME = clueless. Wish I had a +6 magic wand.


RE: Perspective
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/6/2007 1:56:31 PM , Rating: 2
TIME is becoming more of a circus with very little substance anymore. CNN and New York Times are there too.


RE: Perspective
By djkrypplephite on 11/7/2007 12:57:11 AM , Rating: 2
You forgot MSNBC.


RE: Perspective
By Scorpion on 11/8/2007 4:08:04 PM , Rating: 1
You forgot the Barnum & Bailey Vegas-like daily pinnacle of "Circus" news that is Faux News. Their entire focus is on the most sensational, dramatic, entirely throw away news peices. I turn on CNNs Your World and hear about Musharif's controversy in leading a Pakistany democratic society, then I switch to Fox and see them break into an LA free way chase which they continuously cover for the next hour.


RE: Perspective
By Etsp on 11/6/2007 2:33:02 PM , Rating: 2
I think kristopher happens to be the only one with the power to give a +6...so regardless of merit, it would involve him uprating his own post, and it would be near impossible to objectively say that his own post deserves it. I do agree however, that it does deserve it.


RE: Perspective
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/6/2007 2:39:56 PM , Rating: 2
LOL :) I modded up Masher instead.


RE: Perspective
By OblivionMage on 11/6/2007 7:41:08 PM , Rating: 2
So that is how posts get +6!


RE: Perspective
By masher2 (blog) on 11/6/2007 3:58:05 PM , Rating: 2
> "a laser that kills viruses but spares healthy cells..."

Let's take just this one example. It's a development that holds promise...but will it ever be useful for anything but disinfecting donated blood? I don't see it ever being able to remove viruses from the human body at large, and actually curing HIV, for instance. So its total effect on society is going to be rather small.

For anyone overly concerned about TIME's choice of invention of the year, remember its no different than their "man of the year" award-- which went to both Adolph Hitler and Iosef Stalin. It's given to the invention (or man) who most influenced change...for better or for worse.


RE: Perspective
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/6/2007 4:11:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
... but will it ever be useful for anything but disinfecting donated blood?

Like that isn't huge enough?!!

Though I suspect this could definitely be used in the same manner as a dialysis machine, given refinement.


RE: Perspective
By masher2 (blog) on 11/6/2007 4:28:27 PM , Rating: 2
> "Like that isn't huge enough?!!"

By itself-- no,. Most people go their entire lives without needing a blood transfusion. For those that do, we *already* have policies in place that mean the likelihood of catching a deadly disease from a transfusion is vanishingly small. This invention may (one day) reduce that chance even further. But naming it a huge influence on everyday life is reaching.

One day perhaps it might be useful for treating a few certain blood-borne diseases. One day. Maybe. If so, then I'll be up there rooting for TIME to have it on the cover. But right now, its a long-range hypothetical. Not an invention influencing people and society right now.


RE: Perspective
By xsilver on 11/7/2007 6:43:15 PM , Rating: 3
Apparently 9 out of 10 people in their lifetime will need blood at some point. Although only 3% of the population actually donates blood.


RE: Perspective
By clovell on 11/8/2007 3:03:39 PM , Rating: 2
Most people also go their whole lives without getting cancer.


RE: Perspective
By Pythias on 11/10/2007 12:53:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Most people go their entire lives without needing a blood transfusion.


Nobody NEEDs a frigging cell phone at all. Whats your point?


RE: Perspective
By glennerd7 on 11/6/2007 6:00:48 PM , Rating: 2
I think most of us are missing the point here. TIME is most likely looking at a consumer level product that effects us right now. A lot of the previously mentioned "inventions" are out of consumer reach and still in a test environment. I myself do have an iPhone and think it is great "invention" that converges many products into one. Also, how many times do you catch yourself thinking, "Why couldn't I have invented that?" Most of the time what you think of is a product with a very simple twist on something else that can become revolutionary.


RE: Perspective
By Pythias on 11/10/2007 12:51:21 PM , Rating: 2
...and cell phones have been around at least as long.


RE: Perspective
By Proteusza on 11/6/2007 1:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
Quantum Computing = Meh, I'd rather watch J Lo on my iPhone.

Jokes.

Its a very succesfuly mass market device, but I dont think it qualifies as an invention. I mean, sure its good, and very intuitive, I'm not denying that.

What I'm saying, is that for something to be an invention, it should be something new. The iPhone is not a new concept - its a cellphone with a touch screen and a media player. Apple didnt do anything new, they just improved upon it.


RE: Perspective
By Lightning III on 11/6/07, Rating: 0
RE: Perspective
By TomZ on 11/6/2007 2:26:45 PM , Rating: 1
Even the thought makes me feel sick to my stomach.

I think that in just a few years, Gore will be recognized as the charlatan that he is, once more of the research and debate comes out.


RE: Perspective
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/6/2007 2:56:09 PM , Rating: 3
No. When that happens he will claim that his public awareness and preventative measures taken around the globe have averted a crisis of epic proportions. He will win the Nobel Prize again that year.


RE: Perspective
By Lightning III on 11/6/07, Rating: 0
RE: Perspective
By TomZ on 11/6/2007 5:12:27 PM , Rating: 2
It's really got nothing to do with being "pollution loving" - it's because Gore uses FUD as a tool to further his environmental goals. To "asherites" (or others interested in the truth) FUD is bad, but hey, if you're okay with it, go ahead and follow his preachings. But accept that you will have to accept the label of "gorite" in return.


RE: Perspective
By SavagePotato on 11/6/2007 6:43:26 PM , Rating: 2
I hope being a gorite doesn't involve similar behaviors to being a gorean, but with 100% more al Gore.

If you wanted to get sick to your stomach, think on that comparison for a while.


RE: Perspective
By Hacp on 11/9/2007 11:53:21 PM , Rating: 2
What is the neo-conservative movement? It is a movement that emphasizes outliers, misinformation, and pseudo-science in order to "debate" about scientific issues that are harmful to the interest of the wealthy and powerful.
One example would be Bush's claim that further research was needed when confronted with Global Warming. Yet, he didn't look back on his precious missile defense system even when a majority of scientists claimed that further technological breakthroughs needed to be made in order to even begin thinking about a missile defense system.


RE: Perspective
By Chris Peredun on 11/6/2007 1:33:59 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
One can't reasonably knock the choice of iPhone without forwarding your own candidates for invention of the year. What do you think bests it? Post your replies here.


A hybrid steam-combustion engine that yields up to 40% more efficiency:
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,2...

A small-scale printing press capable of making a book in three minutes for three dollars:
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,2...

A process that used bacteria to convert A, B, and AB blood into O (universal donor):
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,2...

Of course, none of them have a touch-screen, and I'm sure they're not nearly "pretty" enough for Mr. Grossman.


RE: Perspective
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/6/2007 1:40:27 PM , Rating: 3
Incredible about the universal donor -- first time I read that.


RE: Perspective
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/6/2007 1:53:09 PM , Rating: 3
Indeed. Now that is some real advancement. iPhone is a hype machine, nothing more.


RE: Perspective
By pauldovi on 11/6/2007 10:39:17 PM , Rating: 2
I am a pilot and an engineering student so of course I am going to say the 787. :D


RE: Perspective
By borowki on 11/7/2007 12:47:45 PM , Rating: 2
The HPV vaccine.


RE: Perspective
By SilthDraeth on 11/7/2007 6:28:59 PM , Rating: 2
Got any Verizon 6700s in that box?


RE: Perspective
By boredg on 11/14/2007 2:27:23 AM , Rating: 2
Now, I know that this is still not a 'product', but I think it is a HUGE breakthrough, and should be considered. The laser propulsion engine.
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=8889


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