Time Magazine’s Invention of the Year: Apple iPhone

Earlier we carried a summary of an Associated Press article that reported Time Magazine would name Apple’s iPhone “Invention of the Year.” Now, Time’s article has come online:

Lev Grossman reports for Time, “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. Why? Five reasons:”

1. The iPhone is pretty: [It’s] part of what makes the iPhone usable in a world of useless gadgets. It speaks your language. In the world of technology, surface really is depth.

2. It’s touchy-feely: Apple’s engineers used the touchscreen to innovate past the graphical user interface (which Apple helped pioneer with the Macintosh in the 1980s) to create a whole new kind of interface, a tactile one that gives users the illusion of actually physically manipulating data with their hands—flipping through album covers, clicking links, stretching and shrinking photographs with their fingers.
This is, as engineers say, nontrivial.

3. It will make other phones better: [Apple CEO Steve Jobs] negotiate the deal with AT&T to carry the iPhone [that] gave Apple unprecedented freedom to build the iPhone to its own specifications. Now other phone makers are jealous. They’re demanding the same freedoms. That means better, more innovative phones for all.

4. It’s not a phone, it’s a platform: [Apple’s OS X-based] iPhone [is] more than just a gadget. It’s a genuine handheld, walk-around computer, the first device that really deserves the name.

5. It is but the ghost of iPhones yet to come: The iPhone has sold enough units—more than 1.4 million at press time—that it’ll be around for a while, and with all that room to develop and its infinitely updatable, all-software interface, the iPhone is built to evolve.

Full article here.


  1. Invention? Hardly. But Apple has reinvented the category of the cell phone. BTW thanks to Apple for replacing my broken iPhone with a brand spanking new one. They could have just given me a loaner and fixed it.

  2. We all know what Ballmer said, but what Palm’s CEO? “They’re not going to just walk in.”

    You’re right, Mister Ed (Colligan, if I’m not mistaken). Apple showed up at your place in broad daylight, kicked the door in, backed up a truck and emptied the joint, then bodily picked you up, turned you upside down and shook you until all the loose change hit the floor, then took that, too.

    Oh, and then they made you smooch both cheeks before they exited, stage left. It’s called INNOVATION, bee-yotch! Adapt or die.

    As far as “Invention of the Year”, I knew that during Steve’s MWSF Keynote on January 9th, didn’t you? How much more anticlimactic can you get?

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  3. Good point, Olmecmystic.

    Here’s more on that Colligan injection from web archives:

    Responding to questions from New York Times correspondent John Markoff at a Churchill Club breakfast gathering Thursday morning, Colligan laughed off the idea that any company — including the wildly popular Apple Computer — could easily win customers in the finicky smart-phone sector.
    “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

    It must be getting hairy for Palm these days.

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