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The BMW Oracle Racing America's Cup yacht USA-17 sailing off of Valencia, Spain in 2010. Photo by Pedro de Arechavaleta. Wikipedia
BMW Oracle Racing's USA-17, photographed  sailing off of Valencia, Spain in 2010, won the America's Cup competition that year. Photo by Pedro de Arechavaleta.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone 4 this past June, it already was obsolete. It had been eclipsed by HTC’s EVO 4G, which runs on Sprint’s nascent 4G WiMAX network. EVO’s big leap forward centers on Sprint’s 4G network, which can deliver data such as Web pages, e-mail attachments, and music and video streams and downloads up to 10 times faster than 3G networks.

Apple’s iPhone was not the first cell phone with an integrated music player (the Samsung Uproar, 2000), nor the first with a touchscreen interface (LG Prada, 2007). And phones with touchscreens had been available for nearly a decade. The iPhone wasn’t even the first on which a user could download and install mini applications (the Palm OS–powered Handspring Treo 180, 2002). So what was so special about it?

Suddenly, a four-inch-thick “flat-screen” LCD or plasma HDTV is considered fat. In the last year or so, nearly every HDTV manufacturer has introduced a “slim” model, usually around an inch and a half thick or thinner.

It seems downright absurd to describe a four-inch-thick TV as obese and déclassé. Less than a decade ago, the dominant big-screen TVs were refrigerator-sized 20-plus-inch-deep rear projection models.

Consider the perfection that is a book. It is a product virtually unchanged for more than 600 years: completely random access and searchable; a universal and open format; not copy-protected; forward and backward compatible. It doesn’t have any special storage requirements. It can be bought, leased, or loaned in person or online. It never runs out of power.

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