In my usual lunchtime Digg reading, I came by a link to the BusinessWeek Most Important Products of 2007. Given the number of cars, it’s apparent that this is a very consumer-oriented listing. But I was a bit surprised - the first four products were all from Apple - the iPhone, MacBook Pro, OS X Leopard, and Apple TV. While some of these are definitely interesting, I really don’t think that any other than the iPhone could be considered truly important or groundbreaking. OS X Leopard and the MacBook Pro may be wonderful for Mac users, but they’re not really anything “new” in the sense of ideas - they’re just updated versions with more/better features. Given the amount of hype that surrounded it, it was clear that the iPhone would be on this list. And I will admit that, despite my moral objections to it (bricking phones that innocent users unlocked), the iPhone is very nicely done. But it’s not anything truly NEW. It’s a step in progression. There were phones with cameras, phones that were thin, phones with touchscreens, and phones that played MP3s. Apple just pulled all - and some extra - into a very nice package.
So what else was mentioned? The Dell XPS One, some Mac-ish all-in-one Media Center PC. It puts everything my computer has in one OEM package, and adds on Windows Media Center, just to make sure it won’t do everything you want. And it even puts the entire computer inside a monitor-sized enclosure, so if you crack the LCD, you have to send the whole thing back to Dell. Don’t even ask me how the Braun Pulsonic electric razor made it onto this list. Or a 30” Gateway LCD monitor. Yes, it’s a big monitor. And it has a TV tuner. That makes it one of the most important products of the year? Of course, there’s also a 60” Pioneer LCD TV, the Tivo HD DVR, and the Motorola Razr2. All jazzed-up versions of old ideas. And I’m not even going to mention Windows Vista, arguably Microsoft’s biggest flop (other than Windows ME), which appears on the list - though they do mention, “While many users hate it, there’s little question that the operating system is selling extremely well.”. They mention that Microsoft said, in October, that it had shipped 88 million copies of Vista. While I don’t totally doubt that figure, it doesn’t take into account the users who bought a Dell with Vista and then dumped it for Ubuntu. Or even the (I imagine rather large) number of users, like many of my friends, who bought that new computer with Vista and immediately loaded their old XP Pro disk.
So, after all of that nitpicking, what do I think is missing?
- The desktop processor revolution, with 64-bit systems becoming quite common.
- The Intel and AMD dual- and quad-core CPUs being put in consumer machines.
- Intel VT hardware virtualization technology.
- The Asus eeePC (well, this is still to be determined)
- Motorola cellphones moving to Linux (as well as other companies)
- The portion of the 700-MHz spectrum set for auction by the FCC. (well, not a consumer product, but it could revolutionize mobile communications if it falls into the right hands).