Special: 2008: The Wrapup

Posted on December 30, 2008

2008:The WrapupAlthough 2007 brough us the iPhone, Leopard, and the Apple TV, among other things, 2008 was a bit of a holding pattern for Apple. As such, we aren’t going to do our month-by-month or quarter-by-quarter wrapup, but instead our top 5 favorite things of 2008.

First, it is worth mentioning that 2008 did bring some pain, with many hurt by the economic crisis going on. Many Apple-related web sites faded from existence or just stopped updating, as web advertising made it harder to be profitable. Furthermore, we just wanted to acknowledge the passing of Stan Flack and his web site, MacMinute earlier this year. His site was the gold standard for “just the news” and he always made sure that every entry was professional and as neutral as possible.

On to the list…

Jonathan Ive#5: Jonathan Ive

Apple’s British-born designer, responsible for the iMac, Aluminum PowerBook G4, MacBook Pro, iPod, and iPhone among other things, got some stage time in October with the introduction of the new unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro. However, he also was behind the development of the MacBook Air, which was indeed a huge change in design for notebooks. Keep the new designs coming!


#4: Microsoft

I'm a PCWindows Vista is amusing, isn’t it? Although it came out last year, Microsoft was desperately trying to fix up the image of its operating system this year with a variety of ads including ones with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld to some that were a direct response to Apple’s own ads. The ads featured a John Hodgman lookalike stating, “I’m a PC…and I’ve been turned into a stereotype,” and then feature numerous people proclaiming that they’re “a PC” while doing various “cool” things. You probably saw these ads enough to remember, but it did seem a bit funny considering who’s got the bigger market share (hint: the software company in Washington).

After that, we were treated to numerous other attempts at being relevant, including commercials tricking people into thinking Windows Vista was this cool, new operating system, known as Windows Mojave, when it was revealed that it was just Vista. Did we mention that 2008 was also the year that “putting lipstick on a pig” was a big comment in the political realm? It seems Microsoft thought they’d get in on the fun, too.

Finally, it was revealed that Windows 7 is right around the corner. Besides stealing borrowing some ideas from OS X, it’s supposed to be less cluttered and a little bit less obnoxious than Vista…we hope.

#3: Honesty

Although it seems that there’s all sorts of random scandals in business news these days, 2008 was a time when Apple actually chose to acknowledge some issues with their products (as many know, it’s often something that’s kept quiet until it actually needs a recall). This year, the iPhone’s tiny “Ultracompact” AC adapter was faulty and recalled. Also, an issue that was nagging some with the MacBook Pro because of faulty NVIDIA chips was taken care of, too. Nobody even needed a bailout.

#2: The iPod touch

iPod touch 2GThe iPod touch, longtime awkward sibling of the iPhone was given some major improvements in 2008. First, in January, Apple gave the iPod touch some additional applications (existing users had to pay a fee), making it a bit more comparable to the iPhone. Then, the iPod touch received the same software as the iPhone, complete with iTunes downloads and App Store downloads. This led to developers creating all sorts of specialized tools to use with the iPod touch, without requiring AT&T’s network, as was the case with the iPhone. Now everyone could have an iPod that also doubled as a souped-up PDA. The iPhone is killing the Treo, while the iPod touch is killing the other Palms. Apple has also positioned it as a mobile gaming platform—is the PSP doomed next?

Of course, the missing piece to make the iPod touch more like an iPhone was some sort of voice communication function. In September, Apple released an updated, sleeker iPod touch with a built-in speaker, and the ability to use a microphone through the headphone jack (similar to the iPhone). If anything, the iPod touch has become the iPhone for those who don’t need a data network from their phone provider. It’s only missing a camera.

Green#1: The Environment

The whole “being green is cool” thing aside, the fact that Apple is making a conscious effort to have greener products is a really good thing. Some things include removing mercury from LCD displays, eliminating polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), removing chlorine and bromine completely, removing arsenic from display glass, and transitioning to LED-based backlighting for displays. Apple also beefed up recycling and made their products just a bit more recyclable. Finally, the computers are more energy efficient, such as the iMac, which draws about 67 watts.

No matter how you slice it, 2008 was the best year for Mac users since, well 2007. Now that Apple has improved many products and is transitioning to new technologies such as DisplayPort, removing FireWire, and Snow Leopard, 2008 might be a hard act to follow, but with the rumors that are circulating about, 2009’s looking pretty good.

See you next year.

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