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The iPhone Winning “Invention of the Year” is an Embarrassment

Posted November 2, 2007 7:00 AM by Gregory Ng
Categories: News Opinions 

imageInvention of the year. Take some time and dwell on that statement for a moment. Not invention of the month. Not invention of the week. Not gadget of the year. Invention of the year!

Time Magazine has named the iPhone their Invention of the Year. The iPhone that we all love, beat out “entries that spanned the areas of green technology, molecular science, robotics and military uses.

I love the iPhone and I think it is an amazing product that will start a change in the way people interact, use, and work with mobile devices. It may have been amazing but invention of the year it is not.

Time Magazine will lead us to believe that their 5 reasons that make the iPhone its invention of the year is enough to forget every other amazing product out there. Their rationale hangs on the following reasons:

1. The iPhone is pretty
2. It’s touchy-feely
3. It will make other phones better
4. It’s not a phone, it’s a platform
5. It is but the ghost of iPhones yet to come.

Now compare that to some other new invention from the past year. All of these are semi-finalists in the “Top 25 Inventions of 2007 Revealed by The Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge”:

-SimpleShot: The SimpleShot is a medical device capable of mixing a drug in powder-form and a diluting solution in a single syringe.

-Diesel Exhaust Purification System: The Diesel Exhaust Purification System forces diesel engines to re-breathe their own exhaust, reducing the amount of pollution they create.

-X-Finger: The X-Finger is a functional artificial finger designed for finger amputees that enables patients to perform tasks such as typing, working and playing a musical instrument.

-ImpactShield(TM): The ImpactShield(TM) is a high-strength fabric that stretches over a window to provide a protective shield in hurricanes.

-Enertia(R) Building System: The Enertia Building System is designed to be a fast, economical and green system for building houses. The structural material captures, stores and distributes solar and geothermal energy without the need for fuel or electricity.

The iPhone may be “pretty” but it certainly does not reduce pollution, protect people from hurricanes, distributes solar energy, or allow an amputee to have a finger.

This is not to say the iPhone isn’t amazing but to give it Time Magazine’s Invention of the Year is truly an embarrassment to the magazine. Because the real reason the iPhone beat out all of these inventions (as well as countless others worldwide) is simple. The iPhone sells magazines. So #6 on Time Magazine’s list for why the iPhone is the Invention of the year should read:

6. Putting the iPhone on the cover means we sell more magazines.


  1. I wonder how much Apple slipped them under the table for this one.

    Posted by Jeff on November 2, 2007 10:36 AM
  2. Time paid off?  Conspiracies abound in the USA! Frightening and sad really.

    The article here is excellent.  I’m sure Apple is rather embarrassed by this also.

    Posted by Paul on November 2, 2007 10:48 AM
  3. It will take time for this to demonstrate, but the iPhone really deserves this recognition. It is the first “wearable computer” for the masses. Yes, but none that grabbed center stage. While it is limited in scope today, future versions of the iPhone will grow to demonstrate its full potential. Watch the story unfold as Apple continues to redefine computing as we know it. Whether or not you like Apple and its products matters not, their history of changing markets is clear:

    Apple’s Mac was the first personal computer to capture the imagination of the masses.

    Apple’s iPod was the first MP3 music player to capture the imagination of the masses.

    Apple’s iPhone is the first “wearable computer” that has captured the imagination of the masses.

    Disclosure: I own Apple stock.

    Posted by Dave on November 2, 2007 11:02 AM
  4. I dont know if the iPhone should be THE Invention of the Year BUT it should be in the top 10.
    WHY because of their use of effective full touch gestures in a graphics model that allows touch gestures to control hi res & scalable graphics such as for Safari.

    This combination should usher in the real (useful) hand held ompuuting future,

    PS I am an engineer who has worked in and around this field for 35 yrs.

    Posted by wolff on November 2, 2007 11:39 AM
  5. Very strange that a product copied off the better design of the HTC touch would win, without even a mention of the other more desireable alternative.

    Posted by Rick on November 2, 2007 1:42 PM
  6. The reason why Time picked the iPhone as invention of the year because it revolutionized the mobile telephony market unlike any other product. It literally turned the market on its head and got the carriers to bow to Apple’s needs which is unheard of. So my subjective response to the article you posted is that you are the one who wants hits to your website so you put up an article bashing the iPhone and in that you have succeeded. Congratulations, your a moron.

    Posted by Ohanes on November 2, 2007 2:21 PM
  7. Ohanes,

    Please read the article more closely next time. I was not bashing the iPhone. i love the iPhone. I am bashing Time Magazine who decided voting the iPhone as THE invention of the year.

    You wrote: “revolutionized the mobile telephony market unlike any other product. It literally turned the market on its head and got the carriers to bow to Apples needs which is unheard of. “

    Couldn’t agree more. But what criteria does TIME use to determine the iPhone is better than inventions that save people’s lives? Or saves the environment?

    Posted by Gregory Ng on November 2, 2007 2:52 PM
  8. RE: Those other contenders; they all sound cool, on paper.  But don’t we have yet to see the degree of impact any one of them will have in their respective fields?  And if nothing else, I think “impact” was an important criterion for their choice.  And we know the degree of impact the iPhone had, has, and will continue to have for a while in the mobile communications arena.

    If you could go back to 2001 (or even 2002), would you have been able to choose the original iPod as the “Invention of the Year”?  Probably not.  But in retrospects, that’s what it was.  Nothing in the tech industry has had as much impact on both the industry and our daily lives as the iPod in the past 6 years.  Is the iPod as “noble” as pollution reducing gizmo?  Of course not.  But if said gizmo is only going to contribute in the most minute of ways to that cause, then it is not worthy of an “invention of the year” award.

    Posted by RawheaD on November 2, 2007 3:44 PM
  9. Ohanes, incorrectly bashing and completely misinterpreting the author’s article are reasons why I sometimes hate browsing the comments sections, on my iPhone or PC or Unix machine.

    The iPhone may have revolutionized the American mobile market and paved the way for the providers to be forced to open up their systems to new innovation, but TIME is not a technology magazine. They have a responsibility to view the bigger picture, on a global scale. Saving lives, the environment, all these things affect us all. A phone that makes our lives more convenient, or fun, does not necessarily have that effect for everybody.

    Why don’t you think of one of those other inventions saving your family or relatives, or even a friend or coworker’s family or relatives?

    TIME has been around for a long time, they cover articles that stretch far and beyond our little internet world.

    And even if you don’t agree, don’t call someone a moron that has not presented any radical or even illogical opinions.

    Posted by JK on November 2, 2007 3:58 PM
  10. ... Or maybe they wanted to make their magazines a sell out to new buyers. C’mon, Time magazine isn’t investigative journalism at its finest. Its archiving Pop Culture, with dignity (just like how Chef Skinner in Ratatouille said about the Corn Puppies).

    Posted by Jofell S. Gallardo on November 2, 2007 4:14 PM
  11. Re:

    “Very strange that a product copied off the better design of the HTC touch would win, without even a mention of the other more desireable alternative.”

    I have never heard anyone mention the HTC.  Before you get all upset, I mean that literally, as regards the word “hear.”  I’ve read about the HTC online, because I’m fairly interested in this stuff.  But out in the world, among non-geeks, I never once actually heard the initials “HTC” uttered.

    I’m sure most people have actually heard the word “iPhone” uttered—and probably even the phrase “I want an iPhone.”  I know I have.

    No matter who pioneered the features, the fact is the iPhone was the first product to make the general public want them.  Lots of websites have already been designed expressly for the iPhone.  I invite you to try to fill a post-it with websites that use the words “designed for the HTC.” 

    This is going to change the world.  Time has no obligation to mention the HTC or any other smartphone in their recognition.  If someone had written an article in praise of the Wright Brothers, they’d have no obligation to mention the countless predecessors who didn’t fly.

    But the HTC can fly, you protest—it can do this, it can do that, it can do everything the iPhone can.  Even if true, that’s irrelevant.  Columbus didn’t discover America.  He made it accessible.  That was what changed the world.  Apple may or may not invented any given feature—but they made those features accessible.  The world will follow.

    Posted by Jesse Wonder Clark on November 2, 2007 4:22 PM
  12. ohanes

    “your” a moron? You’re a moron.

    Posted by pc and iphone user FTW!!!?11! on November 2, 2007 5:33 PM
  13. Its funny how ppl mention the iPhone as not being inventive b/c it was built off similiar ideas in the market.

    But nobody realizes all the inventions mentioned went threw plenty of prototypes, building off technology that came before it. 

    Do you really think the X-finger is first of its kind ever created?  What about the Diesel Exhaust Purification System?  These were all built upon other ideas just like the iPhone—minus the fanfare.

    Another poster hit it perfectly.  Its about impact.  Who cares if I made a Time Machine in my basement, but no one saw it?

    Posted by Heffer on November 2, 2007 7:04 PM
  14. Ok i admit calling the author a moron was out of line, but I stand by what I said the iPhone’s impact is far reaching, and it absolutely deserves it’s title of “Invention of the Year”.

    Posted by Ohanes on November 3, 2007 12:04 AM
  15. Why would Apple be embarrassed by this? But on the other hand, The Times should.

    Posted by Oskar Syahbana on November 3, 2007 1:20 AM
  16. Can you name a better invention this year?

    What kind of an iPhone site laments the iPhone being named invention of the year anyway?

    Oh, and by the way, yes, the iPhone will have more positive human impact than any liberal legislation passed or any movie on the global warming religion, etc.

    I’m astounded at the ignorance shown here… I’m not aware of any more sophisticated, complete, or advanced technology invented this year.

    Time got it right for once.

    And this blog should be renamed “zunephone” so the iphone bashing will fit right in.

    Posted by Joe on November 3, 2007 3:41 AM
  17. BTW, “Saving lives or the environemnt” - these are standared leftist (eg: socialist) causes… but they have nothing to do with “inventions”.

    How Politically Correct can you be that you think actual human achievement should be bashed becuase you are too ignorant to see that the iPhone will, literally, save both lives and improve the environment?

    All technological advances benefit human life and the environment (and the primary thing destroying life and the environment is government at all levels)... making peoples lives more efficient or convenient frees up time—you know, LIFESPAN—and reduces risk of exhaustion cause death or injury… replacing four devices with one decreases environmental impact (and btw: greenpeace is an anti-environment company- just give them $10 and watch them fill a landfill with spam asking for more money.)

    I’m constantly amazed at the self-loathing, and actual loathing of fellow humans shown by leftist liberals… you can’t even recognize a device that improves the human condition for what it is…

    And never mind that your loony leftist politics have no bearing on the question of whether the iphone is the best invention of the year.

    Yeah, the author of this article is a moron, as is anyone who thinks that the iphone has nothing new in it.

    Posted by Joe on November 3, 2007 3:46 AM
  18. “Im not aware of any more sophisticated, complete, or advanced technology invented this year”

    This alone shows why the Time award should be for “most covered gadget of the year” or “best marketing stunt of the year”. Apple didn’t invent anything new here, they just combined some functions (and rather outdated technologically too). It would be great if they left it there but they had to cripple some of it “because they know better”. No custom ringtones (unless one pays iTunes)? No saving of non-multimedia files in memory? No 3G? Only WebApps? Thanks to the hacking scene (where real innovations happen) most of that functionality and flexibility is brought back and following the public’s outcry,  Apple promised they will release an SDK sometime in February.

    Apple is consistently making pretty and well designed objects, knowing most of the people don’t care what’s inside as long as it looks cool. It’s this transformation of gadgets into lifestyle objects that made Nokia No.1 while pushing Ericsson out of the picture.

    Posted by JohnnyK on November 3, 2007 5:05 AM
  19. You’re so right - Apple always manage to create this media boom - Time magazine probably got paid for that.

    Posted by LinkTree on November 3, 2007 12:29 PM
  20. I seem to remember velcro winning invention of the year way back when, i dont think it reduced polution or saved any lives though, well maybe if there was a way of velcroing your mother inlaws mouth shut.
    But aside from that the statement about impact says it all, the iphone has had a direct impact on many people, lets face it we all carry cell phones, and as the iphone progresses, which it surely will, it might even become totally voice activated, which would be a great device in assisting those with amputeed fingers or arms.

    Posted by Stephen on November 3, 2007 11:01 PM
  21. @ #8 (RawheaD)  Actually when you think about it in some back road way the iPod has been good for the environment.  Think about how many less plastic CD’s are being used since the iPod has been released.  Just a thought.smile

    I might have agreed with the above article a few weeks ago before I got my iPhone but now that I have one I can tell that the possibilities are mind bending.

    Posted by mj on November 4, 2007 2:39 PM
  22. The iPhone deserves the award not because it is the “best” invention or the “most meaningful” invention, but because it is “the invention of the year”: it is the invention that had the most impact in 2007. Neither Apple nor Time should have to apologize or feel guilty for beating out those other inventions: none of those other inventions had the immediate and broadsweeping impact that the iPhone had on our world. Until reading the article, how many of them did you even know were invented? Did you know the iPhone was invented before reading the article?. Exactly.

    Disclosure: I own Apple stock (why wouldn’t you!)

    Posted by John Puentes on November 4, 2007 3:10 PM
  23. Absolutely agree to John Puentes: The article kind of has a wrong understanding of ‘invention’ - the invention aka the most innovative product has not that much too do wether it has any good impact on earth or humanity. It just means that it’s stands out of what’s been before. And the iPhone does that, so I think it’s absolutely justifiable to give this title to this gadget. And apart from that, it’s also quite ok for a magazine to award something that’s quite a bit popular at least.

    Posted by Severin Klaus on November 4, 2007 4:28 PM
  24. Regarding the iphone:

    Posted by Magnus Johansson on November 5, 2007 3:52 AM
  25. Agree 100%.

    Posted by Alex on November 5, 2007 12:31 PM
  26. yrltkrpd  jaqscxag  japbcong http://sqtgvgqj.com qprlkptg fxdxnhws

    Posted by ejgwoevw on December 12, 2007 5:56 AM
  27. there is nothing so great about an i-phone , just a ‘bubly’ menu layout thats all….
    no mms,
    no sms forwarding,
    no 3g,
    no gps,
    no video recording
    and you call it a revolutionary phone? morons!
    have a look at given link http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=index03

    Posted by ck on December 25, 2007 6:58 AM

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