Oh, 2010. It was glorious, but thank the almighty prancing unicorn in the sky that it’s over. It was the year of the iPad, really. Steve Jobs took to the stage of Moscone Center, sat down, and proceeded to show the world how he wanted us to interact with the Internet — several million consumers followed suit immediately. But there was so much more, too! Of course, not everyone had as good year as Apple. Or Roku. Or Amazon. Some companies and products didn’t fare so well and they’re probably looking to the riches that will (hopefully) be made in 2011.
Look at Android tablets, netbooks, cable companies and even Windows Home server, Google TV, and the TV show Lost. All losers in the game of Life, 2010 Edition. But no worries. 2011 is tomorrow and the Internet is a kind soul who’s quick to forget past blunders as long as future ventures result positively. It’s just too bad that what happened in 2010 will likely happen in 2011. It’s going to be more of the same. Sorry if I’m the one to tell you this; that’s the way it works ’round here.
Apple retail is booming. Apple Stores worldwide saw 75 million visitors cross their thresholds in 2010. That’s more guests in a year than Disneyland gets in five. A table full of metallic objects is all it takes to lure people in. Free admission is nice as well.
Apple’s fourth quarter was a blockbuster of sorts for Steve Jobs and his company. New records all around: 14.1 million iPhones sold (Antennagate wha?), 4.19M iPads, 3.89M Macs — and Fabolous recorded the Steve Jobs single (NSFW). A rockstar year indeed.
Follow this rabbit hole a bit deeper and we might see that consumers were the real loser here. But let’s not. Those consumers should have known better. We’re talking about first-gen tablets from companies that didn’t exist the week prior running an OS that was never designed for the form factor. Serves them right.
But 2011 might write a kinder story for Android tablets. Samsung supposedly sold 1 million Galaxy Tabs so far in 2010 and the other big CE players will likely out their offerings at CES 2011 (Motorola’s Xoom will likely be the one to beat). As long as Google can rework the user interface to make it a bit more tablet friendly and several high resolution apps designed just for larger screens become must-haves, Android tablets might find its footing. Well, that said, Android tablets will sell even if they’re repackaged hedgehog poo because clearly anything is better than a tablet with an Apple logo on the backside to some buyers.
WP7 was Microsoft’s big thing this year and hopefully Christmas bonuses around the Redmond campus will reflect how smooth everything is going so far. Reviews were fair to the system, not finding anything of a truly deal-breaking nature. It just seems to work and yes, this is a Microsoft product. Feels awesome to say that.
Big media embraced the World Wide Web a few clicks back, but so far, the industry as a whole is uncomfortable with the whole notion of Internet on TVs. Google TV is treading water because of this fight and Boxee Box would be cut off at the knees if the big media fat cats so decide.
It’s a shame, too. All we want as consumers is a legitimate alternative to cable and the Internet seems perfect for that role. In many ways it is, and these new media set top boxes skin the Internet so it’s a bit more friendly 10 feet away. But it doesn’t matter. You as the consumer might as well roll over and play dead. It’s the safest thing to do anyway. Committing to any of these boxes in 2010 sets your 2011 to be filled with agony and frustration as your living room turns into a scene from 300.
Then, slowly at first, different apps, or in Roku-speak, channels, made their way on to the platform. Now there are over 100 channels with most of the major streaming services present: Netflix, Hulu Plus, MLB.TV, Amazon Video On Demand, Pandora, and lots more. Indie producers can even make their own channel with the help of Ooyala.
Roku was in the right place and time this year though. The lucky ducks managed to have updated Roku models prepped and ready to launch this fall. It just so happens that Apple also introduced an updated Apple TV, which was special enough to get the Internet’s attention for few a minutes back in September. The new Roku boxes then launched just two weeks later and undercut the Apple TV on price while boasting a richer feature set. Since then, the little streamer is a fan favorite and is constantly recommended by pundits and every day consumers over the Apple TV and more recently, the Boxee Box.
Apple, for one, now bundles OS X on a flash drive for its latest MacBook Air. That’s the event that got the silly headline. Spotify didn’t make its way to US shores yet; Rdio did, though. New people are finding the fantastic Grooveshark service every day. Even the most basic passenger vehicles now have 3.5mm inputs and, in the case of the inexpensive Ford Fiesta, Bluetooth streaming local and internet content from services like Pandora is found its way downmarket to the sub-$20k car market.
The list of high points reads like a corporate fairy tale: Received significant financial investments from Toyota and Panasonic. The company introduced a new model for themselves and Toyota while managing to nearly doubled its stock value since going public almost six months ago. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, even found time to talk to Steven Colbert. Companies always try to top their previous year and 2010 set 2011′s bar damn high for Tesla.
You should know where this is going. Netbooks are dead because no one wants them. This year, though, there was a legitimate alternative for couch surfing in both the iPad and ultra-portable notebooks with new, lower prices. Sales dropped to an all-time low even though the little notebooks keep getting more powerful.
The new take on gaming might not be the end-all solution. In many ways, both the Kinect and Move do not satisfy the so-called hardcore gaming crowd. Everyone else though will enjoy the novelty for what it is while Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo toil away at the next generation when things will really get interesting.
For now though, at least some gamers will get off their mom’s couch and burn a few calories while gaming. Nintendo started the movement (you’re welcome) but, Microsoft and Sony rebooted the public’s interest in motion controls by showing in their own ways what could be done on a powerful system. Just watch out for grandpa.
Well, sort of. Sure, pay TV companies are having a hard time holding on to subscribers, but that’s only going to mean prices will probably stagnate or worse, will be raised to compensate for the lose of income. Comcast has to pay the power bill on their massive video wall in their swanky new-ish skyscraper somehow.
But where are these people getting their content? Not one report surfaced that showed the cable cutting movement has any real traction, and big media basically controls the future of living room streaming devices anyway. Pay TV needs a savior or a disruptor. Someone will probably have to paint their face blue and white and stand in front of a horde of angry subscribers to really make a difference.
The redesigned Kindle Amazon announced in August went on to be the retailer’s turned out to be Amazon’s best-selling item of all time — a feat achieved in only five months. Amazon didn’t reveal the exact sales numbers but when something outsells Harry Potter and his band of ungodly brethren, it’s gotta be a lot.
The product seemed — at least to us tech-savvy know-it-alls — as the Wave of the future. It was going to be the product that finally brought Internet video to the living room in a proper and Google-ish manner. But that didn’t happen.
Big media immediately went on the defensive and blocked the Android system from accessing their online content. Then the units launched to strong negative criticism. I found it “half-baked” with major features not scheduled to launch until months later. Currently the system is stalled-out with even major CES announcements reportable shelved until Google can work out…something.
The philosophy is right and it never hurts to have Sony pimping your platform. But without the blessing of media networks and content providers, Google TV will never see Android-type success.
But one dreary October afternoon, I made my way to Ford’s Dearborn test track to drive a 800HP, $475,000 Iconic AC Roadster. I didn’t get out of second gear and spun-out the half-million dollar supercar while simultaneously eating several traffic cones with the car in front of a group of journalists and Ford staffers, but it was still the highlight of my year.
Was it Microsoft’s fault? Perhaps, there was nasty rumors even prior to the platform’s launch. But Verizon needs to shoulder some of the blame too for requiring the phones to carry the same $30 data package as proper smartphones even though the Kins were nothing more next-gen feature phones. So the Kin One and Kin Two were shuttered and most of us thought for good.
But nope, they came back in November. Only this time they’re priced properly alongside other bargin phones and only require a feature phone data plan of $10 per month. Still, that 48 day period is awful funny.
The Walking Dead. Easily the best new show of the year but it could be even better.
Android fans finally have multiple quality handsets to choose from. The Droid X, Droid 2, Droid Pro…Well, they have multiple quality Motorola handsets to choose from at least. And the Samsung Galaxy S.
HP bought Palm and managed to stir up a fair amount of Internet buzz concerning both the HP Slate 500 and upcoming Palmpad. Now, if Internet buzz actually related to hard sales numbers HP could start popping corks.
Netflix kept their ball rolling, made it onto more hardware platforms and introduced a streaming-only plan. All that’s left is Android. Guess you have to save something to do in 2011.
Several states flexed their rights and decided that Four Loko was a bit too much for their citizens. John demonstrated live why the drink was hit by the banhammer.
Nintendo jumped aboard the 3D party train with the 3DS — at least, they announced it. We’ll see it in 2011.
Steam finally launched on OS X and introduced the proud race to Half-Life 2 and 2004.
The Engineer class in TF2 was converted into a defensive class to one of the strongest offensive options in the game.
3TB hard drives. [period] As in, 3TB hard drives are awesome.
RIM attempted an Apple maneuver with the upcoming Playbook but failed. It’s fine that the company wanted to steal a bit of the the iPad’s thunder and so they decided to reveal the Playbook slate before it was ready to ship. But a bit too early. Like six months early. The Blackberry Torch and OS 6 weren’t quite the game-changers RIM wanted them to be, either.
Well, who didn’t see this coming? Notion Ink still hasn’t shipped the Adam. Pre-ordering started but was marred by many troubling issues. Maybe they’ll get it out the door in 2011.
Microsoft decided that the most important feature of Windows Home Server wasn’t really the most important feature after all. Microsoft clearly knows best.
This year’s hot FPS games were just rehashes of last year’s piss-poor releases.
Lost. Just Lost. It lost.
No one is buying standalone GPS units anymore. I wonder why?