MediaSmart Home Server
The MediaSmart Server redefined what could go in the home and it was, in its initial weeks, one of the top selling products in the technology segment. A massive amount of effort went into this product between HP and Microsoft showcasing the power of the partnership and creating something that wouldnt have been anywhere near as good had it come exclusively from either company.
In a way this was one of the very rare instances where a partnership between two companies created something where both sides appeared to contribute equally. On the iPhone, for instance, AT&T was often seen as the big negative with that offering and Apple had to carry most of the weight.
HP was on a roll with joint Blackbird project, though this one was between Voodoo, the gaming company they had purchased, and HP Labs.
It resulted in the first automotive quality PC ever built and the case actually was built by an automobile parts company. Uniquely able to use graphics cards from both NVIDIA and ATI, and designed to be upgraded and use water cooling, this offering turned the gaming PC segment on its ear and set up expectations for what may be a stunning gaming laptop next year.
Dell XPS One
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The 2008 IT Salary Guide
The Gateway One was the first All-In-One PC to really challenge Apple in 2007. But, while it was gorgeous it looked unfinished from the back and top and lacked the marketing to drive it to good volumes. The Dell XPS One was finished and rolled with a marketing program that showcased the product well and, if you are going to make a run at Apple, you have to have both parts or it likely wont go that well. The Dell One is probably the best full execution of a product in this class from anyone but Apple and it represents a case study on how this stuff should be done.
Microsofts Port 25 Website
In the area of embracing the competition this probably sets a record of some sort. Port 25 was Microsofts attempt to embrace the Open Source community and it actually was rather well received. More important, it became a soapbox for change inside of Microsoft and will likely have more to do with what happens strategically inside core aspects of the companys enterprise software and services strategy than any of the major product groups. An interesting lesson on how to think differently about a problem, and it nearly completely reversed the failing in-your-face strategy that preceded it.
While clearly dealing with an audience much younger than we are, Disney.Com Disney.Com set the standard on how to do a focused web site, on-line games, and related security in a market often defined by bad behavior, excessive violence and predators. Truly an object lesson on how to approach a well-defined audience and define a very intuitive web interface and on-line gaming set of properties, this is one of the most impressive web-based efforts we saw in 2007. What else is interesting is that unlike most gaming properties in the Pirates of the Caribbean class, their gaming offering runs on older hardware, which is what kids are often using in practice and showcases how much you can do without pushing hardware hard.
2007 was Facebooks year to emerge dominant in the social networking space, easily eclipsing MySpace the previous champion.
The company remained independent and picked up Microsoft as a partner, which is probably the only time Microsoft has been a White Knight. The site went down the platform path, providing an opportunity for potential competitors to more quickly get to revenue by being under the Facebook umbrella rather than competing with it. While they had some privacy issues towards the end of the year that may adversely impact them in 2008, in 2007 they were the poster child social network and appeared to do a better job preventing competition than Google did.
Setting the Stage for 2008
These were the products I thought defined 2007, and set the stage for what could be an incredibly 2008. Now all eyes turn to CES and MacWorld where the titans will clash and every effort will be made to make sure Steve Jobs doesnt steal the show again. Given the laptop, PC, and Cell Phone announcements Steve is expected to make, Im not sure Id bet against Apple doing this again.
Have a Happy New Year!