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Year in review: From iPhone to Kindle

Apple,, and Vizio take a plunge into the consumer electronics world.

    Gadgets and TVs

    From the iPhone to the Kindle

    By Erica Ogg
    Staff Writer, CNET
    Published: December 17, 2007, 11:00 AM PST
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    This year was bookended by two very high-profile gadget announcements--the iPhone (of course), and the Kindle e-book reader from

    While Apple's phone is a runaway success, Amazon still has to prove that its stab at the electronic book market will resonate better with readers than past attempts in the industry.

    The breathless anticipation leading up to the iPhone launch was unlike anything ever seen in the consumer electronics industry, as Apple entered an entirely new (to it, at least) segment of the hardware business. Conversely, Apple's set-top box, AppleTV, failed to find as many excited fans.

    A gadget that didn't get released also had the gadget world buzzing. The Foleo, created by Palm founder Jeff Hawkins, was intended to be a mini laptop purely for sending e-mail, but the company pulled the plug on the device, or at least the first version of it, before it even had a chance to get in front of consumers.

    Combined with Palm's failure to make any significant updates to its Treo smart phone or its respected Palm OS, the Foleo's premature cancellation caused many in the tech world to wonder whether Palm had hit "rock bottom."

    The next-generation DVD battle intensified this year. Though it appeared that Blu-ray was winning the war with consumers, the sudden defection of Paramount Studios and DreamWorks Animation to the HD DVD camp caused quite a stir and included accusations that the studios were convinced to lend their support with monetary compensation.

    As both sides cranked up their marketing machines, prices on both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc players dropped significantly. LG Electronics introduced a combo player intended to offer consumers a compromise, but its price--more than the cost of buying one HD DVD player and one Blu-ray--. And it turns out that many home video watchers are just fine watching plain old DVDs.

    Though consumers haven't bought into the idea of high-definition discs wholesale yet, they have been eager to jump on the HDTV bandwagon. Sales of flat-panel sets soared this year as prices dropped fast--too fast for some manufacturers and retailers.

    One TV manufacturer in particular took the industry by storm this year: California-based Vizio clawed its way into the lead as the biggest supplier of LCD TVs in the U.S. in the second quarter. In doing so, it shoved aside electronics heavyweights like Samsung, Sharp, and Sony, due in large part to its strategy of selling through club stores such as Sam's Club and Costco.

    LCD manufacturers' ability to produce panels cheaply and scale them quickly led to the rise of liquid crystal as the display of choice by most consumers. But near the end of 2007, it appeared plasma was staging a comeback. Renewed research on the technology and cheaper technology could lead to a fresh round of interest in plasma TVs in the next year.

    2007 Highlights

    LG to sell first Blu-ray/HD DVD combo

    Electronics maker unveils the Super Multi Blue, the first player that can play discs from the competing formats.

    January 7, 2007

    Finally, Apple answers call for iPhone

    After years of speculation, Apple reveals its iPod mobile phone, as well as a home networking device, at Macworld.

    January 9, 2007

    Apple aiming for TV breakthrough

    Tech companies haven't had much success in the living room. Can the iPod maker do any better with its Apple TV?

    March 12, 2007

    Is Foleo Palm's folly?

    Device billed as "new category of mobile device" is actually an underpowered laptop best for reading e-mail, analysts say.

    May 30, 2007

    Private equity firm buys into Palm

    Elevation Partners invests $325 million in struggling maker of handhelds and adds a former Apple exec to Palm's board.

    June 4, 2007

    iPhone supply lives to sell another day

    Customers lined up in droves, some for days, but plenty of the phones are still available for the taking.

    June 29, 2007

    Some iPhone customers put on hold

    As iPhone supply finally starts to dwindle, reports emerge of problems with the device's activation process.

    July 1, 2007

    Rock bottom for Palm and Hawkins?

    Decision to cancel the Foleo is a mark on the otherwise stellar career of Palm founder Jeff Hawkins.

    September 4, 2007

    The secret of Vizio's success

    Start-up's strategy of low prices and discount retail wins out, as it tops all LCD TV makers in the second quarter.

    August 20, 2007

    iPod gets touchy, with price cut

    Apple CEO Steve Jobs announces several new iPods, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a dramatic price drop on the iPhone.

    September 5, 2007

    Sling founder 'stoked' about sale to EchoStar

    Co-founder and CEO of Sling Media speaks to CNET about what the sale means to the company.

    September 25, 2007

    Amazon to debut Kindle e-book reader Monday

    After rumors and delays, online retailer is set to break into the hardware business with a high-profile launch.

    November 15, 2007

    Additional Headlines

    Nokia to buy Navteq for $8.1 billion

    For handset makers, it's all about location

    Chilly forecast for wireless HD video

    Best Buy TVs now all digital

    Plasma revenues take first year-over-year dip

    IT pros battle clock and code in time change

    Wireless USB gadgets trickle into marketplace

    Taking Web video to the TV

    Digital camera tries video sharing for dummies

    Will e-books ever be a best seller?