A Lot of Apple at the Core of 2007's Best Products

Rob Enderle

We had a wild and crazy year in 2007 and there were many amazing products, ranging from phones to Web sites to in-car technologies -- and some really cool PCs, too.


Apple was a major part of this year. Often, if it wasn't an Apple product grabbing the headlines, it was a product that could have been designed by Apple. This sets up the 2008 battle between MacWorld and CES nicely, which we'll talk about later in the week.


iPhone: The iPhone stole CES, which will be trying to get its audience back this year. The phone is arguably the best complex generation-one product ever brought to market and showcases what can happen if you get product design, user interface and marketing right.


Microsoft Sync: Microsoft's competitive offering to the iPod, Sync, was solid and well marketed. It also showcases what can happen when you get product design, user interface and marketing right -- you can add partnering, because Ford hasn't been the drag on the image of this product that AT&T has been for Apple.


Google: 2007 was really Google's year. The simplicity and performance of its search tool, coupled with aggressive moves to improve its long-term competitiveness, brings Google onto my list of companies and products that should be recognized for doing excellent work.


VMware: Here was a company that defined virtualization and became the buzzword for nearly the entire tech industry. Its IPO was overshadowed only by Google's in an earlier year. In 2008, it will face Microsoft, but in 2007 it was at the top of its heap.


Nintendo Wii: This was an example of simply getting back to basics and applying the iPod lesson of focused product, competitive price and broader market target to the console gaming market. Nintendo had been dead last and helped knock Sony from first to last with this offering.


Amazon Kindle: The first eBook that really looked at what Apple had done with iPod and iTunes. Amazon updated it for current wireless technology and created a sellout product. While the hardware could use one more turn, the back end was near flawless and actually better than iTunes was initially.


HP MediaSmart Server: The first IT-level product that was home ready. As powerful as an enterprise server, as easy to use as an iPod, this product showcased what could be done if two companies collaborated well and was one of the top-selling products in its launch month.


HP Blackbird: In a year of mergers, this product was strong proof that you can take two very different companies and create something amazing. More advanced and more attractively priced than similar exclusive offerings, this gaming PC put the gaming segment on notice that HP was going to make a run for dominance.


Dell XPS One: A more completely designed product than the also very nice looking Gateway One, the Dell XPS One combined product design and marketing into an Apple quality package only slightly tarnished by the cloud that surrounds every Vista offering. It was the first product to truly step up and make a solid hit at a segment that Apple has traditionally owned.


Port 25: Microsoft's Web site targeting the Open Source market, which has traditionally avoided Microsoft products like the plague. Having as big an impact inside Microsoft as outside, this is a showcase of how to deal with a community honestly. It helped make Microsoft competitive where that company was not.


Disney.com: Arguably the best-focused web site in the world. Showcasing a brilliant blend of multimedia technologies and consistent user experience while embracing the Disney brand, it should be a template for anyone doing a focused Web site. Its "Pirates of the Caribbean" property, in particular, sets the standard for how to create a gaming environment for kids that is both fun and safe. The Fairy site, though, had me thinking about how much fun it would be to put weapons on Fairies, something we are unlikely to see at Disney.


Facebook: At the beginning of the year, I didn't know anyone on Facebook. By the end, virtually everyone I knew was on it. This was a massive year for this company. It picked Microsoft as the White Knight -- an unusual role for that company -- to hold off Google, which probably says a lot about all three companies' futures. Nice transition into a platform provider where properties that otherwise would be competing can instead become partners.


Wrapping Up


This was a crazy year, which sets the stage for an even more incredible 2008, when we are likely to see even more amazing things happen at an even greater pace.


We'll turn our eyes to next year, CES and MacWorld next where the first battles of 2008 will be fought.

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