In past years I’ve given this post impressive sounding titles like “The Top Ten Trends and Innovations of Two Thousand and blah blah,” and stuff like that. Sounds really zippy, doesn’t it? This year, instead of nominating myself as the official trend-spotter of the universe, I figured it’s best to call it what it is: crap. Interesting crap, stupid crap, inspiring crap and embarrassingly terrible crap. It’s kind of a pessimistic angle, but hey, you’re still reading. That’s the only thing I give a crap about.
10) The crapping out of the cable cutting revolution
In 2010 there was a big scare amongst cable providers that great multitudes of people would cancel their cable TV service in favor of streaming content from the Internet. We were mired in the depths of a recession, people were losing jobs left and right, and nifty little set-top boxes like the Apple TV 2 and the Roku were coming out to help us get by without the Real Housewives and House Hunters. Sadly, most people didn’t cut the cord. The magnetic pull of ESPN, Snooki, J Wow and The Situation was just too strong.
9) One word: Qwikster
Netflix suffered some pretty embarrassing missteps this year, namely, the creation and speedy termination of their DVD delivery service that they renamed Qwikster. While the move was unusual and regrettable, there was something about it that I appreciated. In one stroke Netflix went from this unstoppable and faceless media entity that seemed to have it all figured out, to this mom and pop operation with a CEO that spoke his mind, even though it made him look like a doofus. Many people cancelled their subscriptions, but I didn’t. I was a proud 2011 cable cutter, and Netflix was a big part of my content consumption plan. It’s easy to be a critic of the Netflix business plan, but I am still impressed. This isn’t easy turf, folks. What, you want to buy the rights to stream the third season of Punky Brewster? No problem. That will cost you 700 trillion dollars a month.
8) Two words: TouchPad
If anyone went nuts in 2011, it was Hewlett Packard. It’s too bad because they were once a very reputable computer company (in the 1980’s my father published a magazine called HP Professional). I got to test drive a TouchPad when they were first released, and to be honest, I thought it sucked. But it seemed like no one hated the TouchPad more than HP themselves. When the news hit that the TouchPad was discontinued, I was amazed. The TouchPad was dead. WebOS was dead. HP even flirted with the idea of not selling personal computers any longer. Only four people working at Engadget cared about the demise of WebOS, but the idea of HP walking away from their PC business was just plain old sad. Hopefully 2012 will be a brighter year at HP.
7) Three words: Ice Cream Sandwich
I’ve been a bit of a harsh critic of Google in the past, but the truth is that hate is just confused love. Google, I say mean things about you sometimes, but it’s only because I love you. I love your Search. I love your Analytics. I even use Chrome for some reason. In 2011 Google named their premier mobile operating system Ice Cream Sandwich. Call it a misstep. Call it goofy. Scratch your head and wonder why they didn’t go with something sophisticated and obvious like “Android 4.0.” Then remember that they call themselves “Google” and move on.
6) The Beastie Boys kicked ass
The Beastie Boys had a good year. Their album The Hot Sause Committee Part 2 came out in the Spring, and it kicked a whole lot of butt. Choice lyric: “I fly like a hawk or better yet an eagle… a seagull, I sniff suckers out like a beagle.” Adam Yauch overcame his cancer scare, and at the end of the year the Beasties were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Well deserved. Plus, I finally got Paul’s Boutique on vinyl for Christmas (thanks Mom!)
5) The market failure of Android tablets
Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but there’s no guarantee that manufacturing a facsimile will pay the bills. Man, how many Android tablets came out this year? Does anyone even know for sure? There are at least 35 or more. And it’s really confusing keeping track of all of the versions of Android loaded into these things. This tablet has Honeycomb, that tablet has Gingerbread, that crappy one over there has FroYo, and so on. There isn’t enough oxygen out there for so many tablets to survive. The Dell Streak is already dead. Let’s see who survives 2012.
4) Sony’s NEX 7n digital camera
I know, I know… my blog is kind of known as a place where the Panasonic GH2 gets most of the mirror-less camera attention. But even GH2 lovers have to give props to Sony’s killer NEX 7n. It’s got a full-sized APS-C sensor and a flat body that fits in your pocket. Interhangeable lenses, drop dead beautiful industrial design, this camera has it all. The only thing it doesn’t have is availability. The factory that produces them was wiped out by flooding in Thailand. Godspeed to all of those affected by this tragedy! Be safe, and get this camera to market.
3) More electric cars hit the road
I don’t own an electric car, but in an ideal world I would. But as we all know, the world is far from ideal. The Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt both came out in 2011, and while sales have been sluggish, it seems like they’re at least hanging in there. Admittedly, I haven’t explored the possibility of owning one of these cars. Who knows, maybe even city dwellers like myself can be outfitted with a charging station. All I know is that I really think it makes sense to go electric. In 2012 Toyota will release the all-electric Rav 4, and Tesla will put out the long awaited Model S. I mean, give me a break. How could a car be cooler than a Tesla? It can’t.
2) Apple’s iPad 2
I bought one of these things in 2011, and I haven’t really put it down all year. The only reason the iPad 2 isn’t in the #1 spot, is that it isn’t radically different from the iPad 1, which took top honors in last year’s list. Plus, making the 2 number 1 just seems like poor Feng shui.
1) The death of Jobs
Seems out of place to make this the #1 thing on a list of crap, but the loss of Steve Jobs is by far the biggest Earth shaker of the year. Watching Apple in 2011 was like witnessing an epic drama unfold. Their products just got more and more popular, they briefly became the most valuable company on the stock market, and they announced the plans for their new corporate headquarters—which looked like some sort of monolithic temple to the iPod—a physical corporate communion with God. Then, when it seemed like Apple could never outdo itself, their leader Steve Jobs died.
I follow Apple pretty closely, and I was expecting this (to some degree). But even though I saw it coming, I was still shocked when I saw the headline for the first time. I didn’t know Steve Jobs, and Steve Jobs didn’t know me, but I really enjoyed his work. One of my favorite things to do with a piece of Apple hardware was to run my fingers across it, and try to imagine how Steve helped shape the thing. What did he approve? What did he detest? What slipped by him in this generation? It’s really sad that those days are over. That’s just the fingernail end of the tip of the iceberg, but it was a fun game that is finished, and it’s sad.
Thanks for giving a shit, Steve.