commentary And lo, it was foretold in the fall of 2007, that a mobile telephone would lead humanity out of the New Dark Ages and into a better future free from roaming charges and buttons.
Time, which likes to anoint things, has named Apple's iPhone the "Invention of the Year," following such recent IotYs like YouTube and SpaceShipOne. The number one reason why the iPhone is Time's Invention of the Year? "It's pretty." Further: "An example: look at what happens when you put the iPhone into 'airplane' mode (i.e., no mobile phone service, Wi-Fi, etc.). A tiny little orange airplane zooms into the menu bar!" Cool!
In all seriousness, the article accompanying the award lays out several reasons why the iPhone is indeed very important to the computer industry. The relentless buzz around the iPhone, as well as the sales figures, are signs that the general public is starting to really think about what they want in a mobile computer. The iPhone has made the wireless industry sit up and realise that the bar has been raised. And it's also setting the stage for a future in which your mobile computer gradually occupies a larger part of your world.
We're a technology publication, and were we to pick a tech product of 2007, the iPhone would definitely wind up as one of the final three choices and would probably win. But Invention of the Year?
Shouldn't Time, a general-interest publication, really consider that a broader category that includes extremely important and noteworthy advances in other areas of science and technology? Breakthroughs that might one day have a far more profound effect on the planet than a consumer product?
I guess not. After all, this is a publication that named You, and your user-generated, Web 2.0, no sense of buzzword-irony selves as Person of the Year for 2006, joining other odd PofY choices such as 1966's "Twenty-five and Under," 1969's "Middle Americans," and 1975's "American Women." Sometimes, it's just easier to pick something that will make everybody happy rather than to actually put some thought into the person or the thing that helped change the world that year.
Besides, science is hard. Look at the shiny thing! Isn't that the shiniest thing you've ever seen.