Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad

Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad

Summary: The year's most significant new technology was a disruptive product made by Apple.

TOPICS: Apple, iPad, Mobility

The year's most significant new technology was a disruptive product made by Apple.

This year, the editors of TIME Magazine chose for its Person of the Year award a young, enterprising 27-year old male who built a social networking website that has 500 million users and now has a net worth of $30 billion.

Man, that's so 2006.

I mean, was 2010 so crappy that the only real choice was between an obnoxious, ethically-challenged egotistic Web 2.0 billionaire Wunderkind or an Information Technology terrorist pretending to be a journalist and Internet activist? Couldn't they come up with someone who did something legitimately decent for the planet?

I'm sorry TIME, but you could have done better.

Frankly, I'm personally having trouble coming up with a person that should be awarded Man or Woman of the Year. However, I can certainly come up with people. On that list I'd probably include the trapped Chilean miners who endured 60 days of subterranean hell, and the engineers and workers who worked tirelessly to get them out.

Or the many thousands of rescue and aid workers that flew into Haiti to help salvage a nation destroyed by a devastating earthquake. Or even the workers at British Petroleum and other contractors and offshore drilling specialists who toiled countless hours to cap the Gulf oil spill, in the face of public outrage and thankless scrutiny.

If there were ever people that truly deserved to be on the cover of that magazine, it would be them.

But at the end of the day, ZDNet is a technology website. And if I had to name a single technology that made the greatest impact in 2010, it was without a doubt Apple's iPad.

The iPad? So shouldn't Man of the Year be Steve Jobs?

Well, no. I mean, Steve is a very important ingredient in the iPad's creation and overall vision. Much of the iPad's DNA has to be credited to him, without question. But we can't give him credit for its engineering and design -- that distinction must go to the corps of Apple software and hardware engineers that created what is almost certainly going to be the product which changes the face of computing for the next two decades.

Also Read: Special Coverage, Apple iPad (ZDNet)

When the iPad was first introduced to the public in late January, there was immediate derision of the product by naysayers that felt that it was nothing more than an oversized iPhone or iPod Touch. The mainstream technology press questioned whether or not the product would even catch on.

They were proven wrong.

Very. Very. Very. Wrong.

In the 4th quarter of 2010 alone, Apple sold 4.2 million iPads, with estimated yearly sales topping 9 million units worldwide. The holiday shopping season isn't over yet, so it might go as high as even 10 or 12 million to finish off CY 2010.

The iPad is, without any doubt, the most successful product that Apple has launched since the iPhone or even the iPod. In terms of cultural significance and impact to the technology industry, it has in one short year changed the way we view the entire future of personal computing.

Instead of being tied to our desks in order to access our critical productivity applications, we now have the ability to enjoy a full, rich Internet browsing experience from the couch or from our bedside. We can enjoy rich multimedia applications, read books, play games, all from one easy-to-use, effectively maintenance-free 26-ounce hand-held device.

The iPad was certainly not the first computing tablet and nor did the idea originate at Apple or in Steve Jobs' mind. Its legacy started in popular Science Fiction novels and television shows such as Star Trek, and it represents the combined achievement from over 40 years of advancements in computing and miniaturization, which will ultimately lead towards a transparent and ubiquitous computing experience which I call "The Screen".

But we must give the credit where the credit is due. Apple and its engineers have changed the game. Forever.

Also Read: Apple iPad, We've Reached Star Trek-nology (Tech Broiler)

The iPad is certainly a very transformative, disruptive technology. It has in such a short period of time caused every single company in our industry to completely re-think the end-user computing experience and how to best enable their applications and infrastructure to support it and other "thin" technologies that are similar to it or compete with it altogether.

These include the current and forthcoming Android Tablets, Windows 7 and HP Palm Slates, RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook and also Google's Chrome OS netbooks and tablets.

It has not only changed the technology industry, but it has also changed how media will be consumed, be it web sites, books and other traditional print media such as newspapers and magazines. It is a giant leap forward in bringing about a truly paperless society where access to information is instantaneous and from everywhere, as long as you have the means to afford it.

2010 will be remembered by many as difficult year, with numerous challenges that everyone had to face, be it economically, sociologically, politically and emotionally. But in our industry it will be marked by the introduction of the device that changed everything -- the iPad.

Was 2010 the Year of the iPad? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Apple, iPad, Mobility


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • iPad is just an oversized iPod Touch

    Bring on the Windows 7 Slates!!
    • YES do!!! Then we shall see how well they sell:)

      That is what I wonder at least.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • Great

      Windows power tablets have been a great success so far;-)

      I was expecting MS Kinectic, the product described by their CEO as the big MS announcement for 2010. If only it worked well the highlight from the usd10 billion annual R&D spend would have been worth it.
      Richard Flude
    • yeah.. their pathetic sales numbers will be good for comedic

      @NonZealot.. thanks for reminding me though.. better get some popcorn to eat as I gleefully watch these antiquated product hidden inside shinny new wrappers go down in flames.. LOL..

      in case you've been under a rock the past year.. it's already settled.. people don't want to deal with the all the BS of yesteryears tech.. this isn't the Flintstones.. it's 2010..
    • RE: Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad

      @NonZealot I was given a Windows 7 slate yesterday. Review forthcoming.

      It's not an iPad and doesn't even come close to behaving or performing like one, though.
      • RE: Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad


      • I agree

        Windows 7 Slates are not at all like an iPad. After all, a Windows 7 Slate is SO much more functional than an iPod Touch.

        And for those talking about sales numbers, when will you be demanding that Apple stops selling Mac Pros? After all, Mac Pros don't sell nearly as well as iPod shuffles.
      • By the way, Jobs was **definitely** part of iPad's engineering team

        Sorry, firstly put this post in the wrong place, so now I am putting it here:

        People should remember that Jobs actually started as engineer assistant at HP and then worked for Atari successfully enough to be granted with sole, selfsufficient trips to Europe to fix various tecnhical problems with their equipment.

        And since then Jobs had more than 230 of patents applications and won patents, ranging from UI to cases -- for all things big and small.

        <b>Jobs is famous for his micromanagement in designing products, his engineering input in almost everywhere.</b> It is not just conceptual visionary thing as people some might think.
      • RE: Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad

        I'm going to wait for 2G Android pads...
    • Better get a couple of Ovgloves so you'll be ready for them, NZ.

      Those Win7 whizbangs (w/Flash, of course) should be good for about an hour of use before they either melt or the battery croaks. Have fun!
      • LOL...

        @Userama .. seriously NZ... better buy a pair of asbestos gloves... oh, and a REALLY long extension cord.. lol.. must make the docks out of space shuttle tiles i guess..
    • RE: Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad


      When a product like Kinect is launched, not just to an elite, but the general public, why is a big iPod given all the publicity. Kinect is a true leap forward, while the iPad is exactly the same as the iPod, just (wait for it) bigger! Oh and that UI is looking real old.

      9 million units worldwide - there is one born every minute ;-)
      • Kinect a leap forward??? It is old technology put on a game platform

        @tonymcs@... Motion detectors have being available for over a decade. Guess how those self adjusting cameras work. MS just put them to use in a game. Nothing to be impressed about ... particularly when is clunky.
      • Learn how to read...


        <i>"When the iPad was first introduced to the public in late January, there was immediate derision of the product by naysayers that felt that it was nothing more than an oversized iPhone or iPod Touch. The mainstream technology press questioned whether or not the product would even catch on.

        They were proven wrong.

        Very. Very. Very. Wrong."</i>

        Nuff said
      • RE: Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad

        @tonymcs@... <br>If you take heed of what the "Experts" and "Analysts" said, there should be 100 million sold world wide by now. Only 9 million sold, I call that "Fail".

        Nuff Said!
      • RE: Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad

        [i]When a product like Kinect is launched, not just to an elite, but the general public, why is a big iPod given all the publicity.[/i]

        Hey, my karaoke machine does does the same thing. It even sings.

        search &amp; destroy
      • RE: Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad


        What BS. Microsoft did a lot more than just use already existing tech. The hired experts in the field, developed tech that could be implemented cheaply which was better than anything available in academia. Remember this guy (Jonny Lee 3D Wii mote guy). He was a researcher and was hired by Microsoft see, what his blog has to say about Project Natal

        His blog is pretty cool to. All kinds of amazing projects

        Microsoft must be given credit where it is due.
      • RE: Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad

        @coachgeorge What complete nonsense. The experts said it wouldn't sell at all, original forecasts were for 2 to 3 million (max) for the year . Ten to twelve million units a failure?

        Let's compare that to global Netbook sales. Forecasts are for 30-35 million sales worldwide for all Netbooks. The Netbook market is more mature and offers a far more diverse range of products and price points. This begs the questions, how can iPad sales at 33% of Global Netbook sales be a failure when:

        1. The iPad has limited products available only in the luxury price range.
        2. The iPad is only available in limited markets around the world and has not yet been globally released.
        3. Those sales figures aren't even for a full year, more like 11 months.

        Fail? I don't think so.
    • NonZealot give it up.

      You p00ped the bed soooo bad on this one. It isn't even funny how badly you don't get it and I'm starting to believe you have reached your apex of comprehending new dynamics in consumer tech.

      But hey, keep harping on how iPad is just a big iPod. The form factor of the iPad changes everything. What it leaves in, what it leaves out changes everything. It is astounding the uses that have already been found for it and it is only beginning.

      It is not as easy as simply putting Windows on a tablet...seems to me this has already seen limited usefulness in the past.
      • RE: Technology of the Year: Apple's iPad


        ROFL, "p00ped the bed so bad"....couldn't have said it better!