TIME Magazine’s Top 10 Gadgets of 2009: #1 Motorola Droid, #4 iPhone 3GS

TIME Magazine has released their “The Top 10 Everything of 2009” lists and their “Top 10 Gadgets” list looks like this:

1. Motorola Droid: Everybody likes Android, Google’s open-source smartphone operating system. But a smartphone operating system isn’t all that satisfying without an actual kick-ass smartphone wrapped around it. Now Android has one: The Droid is a hefty beast, a metal behemoth without the gloss and finish of the iPhone, but you don’t miss it. The Droid’s touchscreen is phenomenally sharp and vivid, it has an actual physical (not great, but good enough) keyboard, and best of all, the Droid is on Verizon’s best-of-breed 3G network. It’s Android’s first credible challenge to the iPhone. Price: $300.
2. The Nook
3. Dyson Air Multiplier
4. iPhone 3GS: Take the iPhone. Make it faster. There, you’re done. Yes, the 3GS has a better camera — with video. And it has a compass and voice control. Those are all improvements over the original. But the main point of, and the best thing about, the new iPhone is speed. It has more of it. Period. Price: $200 to $300.
5. Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
6. Dell Adamo XPS
7. FinePix Real 3D W1
8. Casio G-Shock GW7900B-1
9. Beats Solo by Dr. Dre
10. Panasonic G10 Series Plasma HDTVs

TIME’s complete list of Top Ten lists for 2009 is here.

MacDailyNews Take: Congratulations, Motorola! You won one, even if no real, comprehensive reviews support TIME’s rankings.

So why, besides hit generation via shock value (imagine a TIME editor saying, “Hmm, we’ll just flip these two and voilà, tepid becomes traffic instantly!”), did TIME choose Droid over iPhone? Read on:

Last May, PsyBlog reported on a recent study by Michael I. Norton from the Harvard Business School:

Norton and colleagues first surveyed members of an online dating site… Participants were given a list of traits about another person and asked how much they would like that person. The traits were generated to be broadly representative and people were shown either 4, 6, 8 or 10 of these traits at random. The results showed that, contrary to their expectations, the more information people had about others the less they liked them… Even with a list of mostly positive traits, people tended to like the ‘person’ described by the shorter lists of traits, further supporting the idea that we like people more who we know less about.

In a nutshell, familiarity breeds contempt. Now substitute smartphones for people. We submit that TIME chose Droid not just because they’d generate more traffic via manufacturing “controversy” than by correctly choosing iPhone #1 and not based not on any meaningful usage of the Droid itself, but rather on lack of meaningful information and/or from relying upon Motorola’s glossy marketing materials. They also knocked the iPhone down below Droid due to familiarity. After all, TIME did name Apple iPhone “Invention of the Year” in November 2007, so it’s highly likely that TIME’s list-makers own iPhones (original or 3G, not 3GS, no doubt) and are just finishing up their two-year contracts. Think they’ll be switching to Droids? Don’t bet on it (if you’re already an iPhone user, you understand; if you’re an iPhone 3GS owner, you know it implicitly).

We posit this theory not only because we’ve used both and found iPhone to be superior, but because every comprehensive, independent review that we’ve seen comparing Droid to iPhone states that the iPhone is the superior device overall. For some examples, please see the related articles below.

Oh, by the way, TIME’s “Top 10 iPhone Apps 2009” list is here. TIME offers no such list for Droid.


  1. I trust TIME to provide literate, objective analysis of technology matters almost as much as I trust their coverage of political issues, which is to say not at all. The only more useless “news” rag may be Newsweek, but it’s a real horse-race to the bottom.

  2. So to summarize the accolades that got it to first place:

    – Touchscreen
    – Good Enough Keyboard
    – Verizon
    – Possible to compare to iPhone

    Talk about raising the bar!

  3. I’d posit that the Droid the the gadget of the year in TIME’s eyes because it’s the phone released in 2009 that has the best chance at offering the iPhone any kind of competition, no matter how weak that competition ends up being. In their view, the cell industry desperately needs to start putting up some kind of fight.

    I’d probably agree with that, but I’m perfectly happy letting Apple juggernaut it’s way to first place in the cell industry first.

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