Sunday, January 04, 2004

The Best and Worst of 2003

Well, 2004 is officially upon us, but there's still some time to look back at 2003. So, I've taken the entire year and packaged it into a short awards ceremony that's bound to leave many people out. But, that's what these "Look Back" and "Year in Review" things are all about.

Now, I'm not saying that Konfabulator is a bad application. I personally like and use it (though I can't say I've registered it). That said, it definitely didn't meet the expectations created by its own hype. Rather than being a revolution in development and the user interface, many just saw the app as a glorified way of doing things you can already do, and many others just couldn't see why it was worth $25.
Konfabulator is definitely improving, and may some day trigger that revolution that we're still waiting for. But until then, it can be known as the Most Overly-Hyped Application of the Year.

The explanation for this is short and simple. You don't have to like the brushed metal Finder, and you don't have to have a brushed metal Finder. Go download an application like cliché software's ThemeChanger or Unsanity's ShapeShifter and stop whining.

Sure, iTunes 4 for the Mac was revolutionary. Still, it lacks the simple genius that wins this honor for its PC counterpart: Let's take our best, easiest to use iApp and give Windows users a taste of what they're missing out on. When you look at it like that, the amazing iTunes Music Store seems secondary (and considering how little profit it generates even as the number one digital music store, it is kinda secondary).
On the PC, iTunes helps bridge the gap for potential switchers. If they've got their iPod and their iTunes, they just might look at an iMac or a Powerbook next time they're computer shopping. Simple, but genius.

Back when we were just speculating about Panther's features, now neglected rumor site LoopRumors reported that the new OS would feature a "System-wide metal interface." Within days, the site was claiming that people had misunderstood and that the Finder would stay aqua.
Guess what? They were right the first time around!
As we all know now, Panther features a fully brushed metal Finder. If LoopRumors hadn't recanted under pressure, they would've been the first major site to predict the big move. Kinda funny when you think about it...

Ambrosia Software's WireTap isn't a fancy application, but it's free and it's useful (what more can we ask for?). WireTap let's you record audio being played by your Mac into a .aiff file. It might be a bit light on features, but it does what it's supposed to do (and it does it pretty well). It's great for recording audio from a DVD, amongst other things.

It might have been rumored for months before Panther's WWDC unveiling, but "Piles" still can't be found in any copies of OS X. This fancy new feature was supposed to allow users to pile up their documents, but all we wound up with was Exposé and a new Finder (shucks).

Sure, there are plenty of things with worse names than AirPort Extreme, but we expect a bit more from Apple. It's better than AirPort 2 or iAirPort, but you'd think they could've come up with something - anything - better than "Extreme" to tack on the end. Hell, it sounds like a skateboarding move on the half pipe ("Dude, that was an awesome AirPort Xtreme!").

Another honor for another Apple application. "Safari" is definitely not the name we expected for an Apple web browser, but it's a good name. In fact, I'd say most people were so relieved it wasn't named "iBrowse" that they didn't care what the actual name was. Here's a resolution for Apple in 2004: Let's see more of these creative names (and please, nothing else with "Extreme" in it).

Sure, the first iTunes Music Store campaign (you know, the ones with the people singing along to their favorite songs on their iPods) was good, but this one was even better. It had funky colors, cool visuals, and better singing. These eye-catching ads helped sell iPods over the holidays and push the iTMS to number one on the online music store charts. Rumor has it that it took quite a bit of convincing to get Jobs to agree to the colored backgrounds (instead of that ol' "Switcher White" look), but it was a good move. Another great campaign by Chait Day.

and finally...

The latest, greatest Powermacs with the super-powered, 64-bit G5s is the winner of dual honors (along with dual processors) this year. The new machines were highly anticipated and even highlier rumored as the World Wide Developers Conference keynote approached (so highly rumored that it can only be described with made up words). Even with all these rumors, nobody knew the specs for the next generation of Powermacs. But then, days before the keynote, the most unlikely source let us in on a big secret. Yes, the Apple online store actually posted the specs on the Powermac page, accidentally (or so we think) revealing the top-end dual-2 GHz model.
Still, even though it was the year's biggest leak, the new Powermacs still made a huge splash at the WWDC keynote. To put it simply (and in terms of an overused cliché), we were shocked and awed (most likely due to a powerful reality distortion field around Mr. Jobs).


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