Every year a new crop of gadgets, goods and groupies are put out into the consumer universe with hopes of hitting the jackpot and becoming the year's most buzzed about product.
This year AOL put together a list of the 15 "Hottest Products of 2007," a list that ranges from the technological to tween trends to the tasty.
Squeaking in at No. 15 is the 3-D virtual world "Second Life." While this online community officially launched in 2003, it was not until early this year that it hit the mainstream, when virtual businesses on the site began reporting real money earnings. "Second Life" claims to have more than 10 million "residents" on its site — many of whom are linked to political campaigns or retail stores making real revenue in the cyberworld. "Second Life" even brought the word "avatar" into homes across the United States and around the world.
No. 14 is the Nikon Coolpix S51c. It may look like just another digital camera, but not only does Nikon's Coolpix sport a sleek, compact design and take flawless photos, but it tackles one of today's digital photographers' biggest problems: getting the pictures from your camera's memory card to your computer desktop. In short, Nikon has taken your digital camera wireless. Nikon has had wireless cameras on the market since 2005, but has ironed out the kinks with its current model so now photographers can beam or e-mail their photos to their Flickr accounts or to a personal Nikon photo bank without the hassle of wires or download time.
The 13th hottest product of 2007 is Webkinz. Dubbed "the most annoying trend since Beanie Babies, which were the most annoying trend since Cabbage Patch Kids," by Blogging Stock's Jonathan Berr, Webkinz are part stuffed animal and part computer game. Each furry pet comes with a unique code that allows you to enter the online community of Webkinz World where children can not only care for their virtual pet, but can also play games and invite friends over to their Webkinz's virtual house to play.
Coming in at No. 12 on the list is Research in Motion's (RIM) Blackberry 8800. The newest smartphone from Blackberry on the block, the 8800 not only provides users with phone, e-mail, organizer, Web browsing and instant messaging, but also Global Positioning System, a media player for video clips, expandable memory for all of your files and a high-capacity battery. For many, the 8800 series is the reason so many "crackberry" users can't seem to kick the habit. Their addiction helped boost RIM's stock 150 percent this last year. As for RIM executives, they're hoping 2008 is a repeat of 2007.
Just shy of the Top 10 was Freedom-2, a company that's cashing in on erasing the permanent. Freedom-2 is a tattoo company, whose research was sponsored by Brown University, that has invented a new tattoo technology using biodegradable dyes that can be dissolved in one semipainful tattoo-removal treatment. Good news for those of us considering getting tattoos, too little too late for those who got inked pre-2007.
No. 10 on AOL's list was this year's biggest and most buzzed about airplane — the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. With a capacity of 210-330 passengers on its three different models, the Boeing Dreamliner has unmatched fuel efficiency — using 20 percent less fuel than similarly sized airplanes on comparable trip lengths. Also, 50 percent of the Dreamliner's primary structure is made from composite materials. Since the plane's unveiling in July, the company has received almost 750 plane orders and is expected to deliver the first of its fleet in late 2008.
Tween sensation Hannah Montana came in at No. 9. The enormous popularity of Montana, played by singer Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter Miley Cyrus, has exceeded even Disney's expectations of the brand. With a hit TV show, sold-out concerts, a clothing line, toys and an upcoming movie, Hannah Montana is, without a doubt, the hottest "celeb-u-product" for America's 13-and-younger set.
"Halo 3," a video game developed for the Xbox 360 console, is AOL's No. 8 pick this year. Opening-day sales of this video game topped $170 million Sept. 25. But that number quickly faded as the sales total climbed to $300 million in its first week of availability. "Halo 3" broke the record for the highest-grossing opening day in entertainment history. That title was previously held by "Spiderman-3," which grossed $60 million at the box office in May 2007.
Google Maps earned the No. 7 spot with the launch of two new upgrades this year. In April, Google released a program that allowed people to make their own maps "mashups" — or as they it, "My Maps." May 2007 saw the incarnation of Street View, a program that gave users a 360-degree view of every street in several major U.S. cities. The precision and clarity of their street-view images raised privacy concerns, which only added to the buzz, and made voyeurs of all of us.
The Tesla Roadster's pre-launch buzz catapulted it to No. 6. This sports car boasts a 0-60 time of less than four seconds, but speed is not its chief appeal. The Roadster is a fully electric vehicle. Although the Roadster prototype was unveiled in 2006, delays in the car's production have pushed back its debut to early 2008. Interested? Apparently, so is everyone else. But good luck getting your hands on one, it's already sold out.
No. 5 on the list is Vitamin Water, an energy drink for the health conscious. With support from celebrities such as 50 Cent, Kelly Clarkson, David Ortiz and Shaquille O'Neal, Glacéau brand, which Coca-Cola bought in 2007 for $4.2 billion, became a pioneer in its field of "advanced water."
Sling Media's Slingbox slid in to AOL's No 4 spot with it's anytime, anywhere usage. This trapezoid-shaped box allows consumers to compress and transfer live TV, satellite or DVR from their home to their computers or smartphones from anywhere in the world, all without requiring their home computers to be running. Thus making your favorite TV shows available when and where you want them.
Coming in at No. 3 is the Nintendo Wii. Selling more than 13 millions units this year alone, the Wii has raised the bar among gaming consoles. The direct successor to the Nintendo GameCube, the Wii has a sleek design and groundbreaking game-play capabilities that have inspired intense devotion among its fans. The only problem now is getting your hands on one.
Coke Zero is the No. 2 pick on AOL's hottest of 2007 list. First launched in 2005, Coke Zero did not catch fire until the company took an edgier, younger approach to marketing the soda. This no sugar, no calorie, Coke Classic imitation has given Coca-Cola its biggest jolt in more than two decades. While other staples, such as Coke Classic, are losing market share, Zero's sales are up 34 percent from this time last year, giving Coca-Cola its highest stock price in seven years.
And, finally, there was the No. 1 product of 2007. It garnered a little bit of attention, you may have heard of it: the iPhone. Buzz around Apple's foray into the cell phone universe began to build from the moment its CEO, Steve Jobs, announced its release in January. Upon the phone's arrival in June, people stood in line for days just to get their hands on one. It's safe to say people went crazy for the iPhone. In the six months since the phone's release, at least 1.5 million models have been sold.
Apple has already changed the way people listen to music and given mobile communication a makeover. As for the highly anticipated products that may end up on the AOL's list next year, it's too early to call.