It’s time for my annual list of technology products that I love and use every day. This is the (wow) fifth year I’ve done this. Here are my previous lists: 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006. The scope of the list has changed over time. In 2006 it was just about websites. Now the list includes other web services, some desktop software and even a few gadgets.
These aren’t necessarily newly launched products (see Daniel Raffel’s post yesterday for a solid list of great new products). This is a simple list of the tech products that are an integral part of my day – work or play. Some have withstood the test of time and I just can’t live without. Others are newcomers that have captured my imagination.
I use most of them every day, or nearly every day, and I would not be as productive or happy without all of them. There are now 24 products on the list.
Just three of these products have been on the list all five years: TechMeme, Skype and WordPress. As I said last year, TechMeme continues to be the news aggregator I check multiple times per day to keep up on tech news (although Google News is becoming more important over time). Skype is the instant messaging and VoIP platform that I use most often at work and with friends. And WordPress software powers all of our blogs.
I’ve added 13 new products to last year’s list: Android, Apple Magic Mouse, Dropbox, Evernote, Foursquare/Loopt/Gowalla, Google Docs, Google Voice, Kodak Zi8, MOG, Skitch and Spotify.
I’ve removed seven products from the 2009 list: 1-800-Free-411, Digg, Friendfeed, Google Reader, iPhone, MySpace Music and Zoho.
There are lot of products that I use daily that aren’t on the list for various reasons. My iMac and MacBook Pro and Droid phone, for example, aren’t on the list specifically even though all three products are exceptional. I don’t really have a browser preference, although I suspect Chrome will be on the list next year. And there are lots of websites and services, like Posterous and Amie Street, that I use regularly but just didn’t make my arbitrary cut. We also use Bit.ly extensively on the site for URL shortening, and EventBrite and Amiando for event ticketing.
Here’s my 2010 list of tech products that I love and use every day:
I gave up the iPhone this year and switched to Android mobile phones. First the MyTouch, then the Droid. I’ll soon be upgrading again. What I like best about Android is the deep integration with Google Voice, which I talk about below. These two products go hand in hand.
I first put Animoto on the list last year. The service makes beautiful slide shows of photos, and this year they added videos (here’s one I made). Their iPhone application continues to impress. This company is now profitable and my guess is someone like Apple will acquire them in the next year.
Website: animoto.com Location: New York, New York, United States Founded: August, 2006 Funding: $5M
Animoto generates custom, professional-looking slideshows from user-uploaded music and photos. Their “patent-pending Cinematic Artificial Intelligence technology and high-end motion design” drives the web app. They say the Cinematic A.I. analyzes… Learn More
Apple Magic Mouse
The Apple Magic Mouse is the best computer pointing device ever made. It functions as a normal mouse but also has multitouch on top. Once you use it you’ll never be happy with an old mouse or touchpad again.
Delicious, the social bookmarking workhorse, has been on my list every year except 2007. It’s not perfect but it’s better than anything else out there.
Website: delicious.com Location: Sunnyvale, California, United States Founded: November 1, 2003 Acquired:
December 1, 2005 by
Delicious is a social bookmarking website – the primary use of Delicious is to store your bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too. On Delicious, you can use tags to… Learn More
Dropbox is a new addition to the list this year. It’s just dead simple file syncing across all your computers, mobile devices and the cloud. It’s also a great way to privately share big files. Dropbox is now one of my must-have productivity tools. I just wish Google offered something similar so that I could have an integrated dashboard for my Google Docs files and Dropbox stuff.
Website: dropbox.com Location: San Francisco, California, United States Funding: $7.2M
Dropbox is a software product that makes it easy to securely share files with other people, sync them across multiple computers, access them from anywhere, and keep them safe.
Dropbox was founded by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi in 2007, and… Learn More
Evernote is also a new addition this year. Like Dropbox it is an amazing productivity tool that lets you capture, organize, and find information across multiple platforms. You can take notes, clip webpages, snap photos using their mobile phones, create to-dos, and record audio. All data is synchronized with the Evernote web service and made available to clients on Windows, Mac, Web, and mobile devices. Additionally, the Evernote web service performs image recognition on all incoming notes, making printed or handwritten text found within images searchable.
Website: evernote.com Location: Mountain View, California, United States Funding: $25.5M
Evernote allows users to capture, organize, and find information across multiple platforms. Users can take notes, clip webpages, snap photos using their mobile phones, create to-dos, and record audio. All data is synchronized with the Evernote web… Learn More
This is the third year in a row that Facebook has been on the list. Facebook has won the social wars, and even the biggest companies are now surrendering to them. Facebook Connect is turning into the defacto online identity solution for tens of millions of people.
Website: facebook.com Location: Palo Alto, California, United States Founded: February 1, 2004 Funding: $716M
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 350 million users.
Foursquare, Loopt and Gowalla
These three startups (Foursquare, Loopt and Gowalla), among others, are battling to control mobile social networking. They all have variations of the check-in model, where users are encouraged to note where they are for their friends to see. Foursquare has all the early adopter momentum, But Loopt has millions of users and Gowalla has a compelling product. All three are likely to win.
Website: loopt.com Location: Mountain View, California, United States Founded: January 1, 2005 Funding: $13.3M
Loopt is a mobile social mapping application. Using cell phones and mobile devices, it displays the locations of a user’s friends along with their presence status (available, away, etc) visually on maps or on lists. Based on GPS and related data,… Learn More
Website: gowalla.com Location: Austin, Texas, United States Founded: August 28, 2007 Funding: $10.3M
Gowalla, also known as Alamofire, creates games and game-like experiences for the social web.
Gowalla is a location-based social networking game launched as a public beta in March 2009. Gowalla uses a large catalog of virtual goods to encourage… Learn More
This is the fourth year in a row for Gmail. It’s the best webmail out there, and I appreciate the free imap support and forwarding. Enough said.
This is a new addition for me this year. I never bothered installing Office on my new laptop, and find that Google Docs has all the functionality I need, plus easy sharing with others and storage in the cloud. I may never install Office again. I previously had Zoho on the list, a competitor, and removed it only because I find that centralizing as many services as possible at Google makes things easier for me as a user.
Company: Website: docs.google.com Launch Date: October, 2006
Google Docs is Google’s free web-based word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation application. The online app allows users to easily share documents and collaboratively work on them in real-time.
On March 31st, 2008, the Google Docs team… Learn More
This has been a big year for Google Voice, previously called Grand Central. The mobile apps let Google Voice completely take over Android phones. I’ve ported my mobile number to Google Voice and now any time someone calls that number I can direct it to any phone I like based on where I am, who’s calling and when. It has changed my life, and I will never use a mobile phone that doesn’t have deep integration with the service.
Company: Website: google.com/googlevoice/about.html
Google Voice is a free Internet service that uses VoIP technology to link phone numbers together. GrandCentral was relaunched as Google Voice on March 11, 2009 with new features, including voicemail transcriptions and SMS managing.
Users of… Learn More
This is the second year in a row for Hulu. I’d love for them to add a paid model and let me watch HBO shows or pay per view new release movies. And I wish they could secure rights to archived libraries of shows, but even as it currently exists, Hulu is a great entertainment service.
This digital video camera beats the pants off the current Flip models. The best feature is the ability to add a microphone. Flip doesn’t have this, and the audio quality is often terrible. The Zi8 is a full generation ahead.
Location: Rochester, New York, United States
With the slogan “you press the button, we do the rest,” George Eastman put the first simple camera into the hands of a world of consumers in 1888. In so doing, he made a cumbersome and complicated process easy to use and accessible to nearly… Learn More
MOG, Pandora and Spotify
MOG and Spotify are new this year. Pandora has been on every year except 2008, and with hindsight I should have added them that year, too. These are three streaming music services that are awesome. MOG, which is $5/month, is the best music experience on the Internet. Spotify, a desktop streaming service that hasn’t launched in the U.S. yet, lacks the radio and social features of MOG but is currently free. And we hear it will launch on a limited basis in the U.S. very shortly. Pandora is still a very cool place to just sign in and listen to music that I love quickly and easily.
Website: mog.com Location: Berkeley, California, United States Founded: June 1, 2005 Funding: $12M
MOG is a place for people to publish thoughts about music, as well as a place to share the names of the songs they play on their computers (using a downloadable program called MOG-O-MATIC that runs in the background and automatically detects songs no… Learn More
Website: Pandora.com Location: Oakland, California, United States Founded: January 1, 2000 Funding: $56.3M
Born out of a love for music with 99% of its employees at one time or another working as musicians, Pandora is truly a company wholly dedicated to music. With a database of more than 600 thousand songs, each digitally annotated with musical… Learn More
Scribd and Docstoc
Scribd and Docstoc, two services that let you upload office files like PDFs and Word documents and then embed them on sites, are very useful to bloggers like us. When we have a document that we want to share with readers, we use one of these services and embed it into the post. Both services were also on the list last year.
Website: docstoc.com Location: Santa Monica , California, United States Founded: August 1, 2007 Funding: $4M
Docstoc is the premier online community to find and share professional documents. Docstoc provides the platform for users and businesses to upload and share their documents with all the world, and serves as a vast repository of documents in variety… Learn More
Website: scribd.com Location: San Francisco, California, United States Founded: March, 2007 Funding: $12.8M
Scribd is a social publishing site where people upload and share creative writing and various documents, regardless of file format. The company claims more than 55 million unique users to the network each month and well-known users such as Barack… Learn More
I’ve been using Skitch for years. It’s Mac software that makes basic image manipulation a breeze – sort of a very light version of Photoshop. For 90% of our images, Skitch works just fine. It’s easy to add text, resize and crop images, etc. And it automatically uploads them to the website for you, too.
Skype is on the list every year and will probably stay there, even under new management. I’d give up email before I gave up Skype. I use it almost exclusively for instant messaging, and a big percentage of my voice calls are over the service. I love doing video chat with friends oversees, too.
Website: skype.com Location: London, United Kingdom Founded: August 1, 2003 Acquired:
September 12, 2005 by
Skype is a peer-to-peer Internet telephony service that is free for Skype-to-Skype calls. The service also allows Skype users to call mobiles and landlines, and vice-versa. Skype has special charge plans for non-Skype-to-Skype calls. Skype is… Learn More
TechMeme is another service that has been on the list all five years. It is the definitely news aggregator for technology news, and a huge asset to our community.
Website: techmeme.com Location: Menlo Park, California, United States Founded: October 16, 2004
Launched in 2005 as Tech.Memeorandum.com, the site that is considered by many as the blogosphere’s daily tech newspaper was later renamed Techmeme (pronounced “tech-meam”). Stories often hit Techmeme days before the New York Times and other… Learn More
TripIt is a simple travel service that is absolutely awesome, and returns to the list this year. You forward confirmation emails from flights, hotels, etc. to the service and it creates an itinerary automatically. You can then access it via a mobile device.
Website: tripit.com Location: San Francisco, California, United States Founded: October 1, 2006 Funding: $6.1M
TripIt is an intelligent travel organizer that helps travelers manage their plans so that their trips go more smoothly. Travelers simply forward their purchase confirmation emails to TripIt and TripIt automatically creates master itineraries with… Learn More
Twitter is fast becoming as essential marketing tool for TechCrunch, and I’m addicted to it personally. This is the third year I’ve added Twitter. For mobile use, I love the Seesmic Android application.
All our blogs run on WordPress’ open source software, and we use other services of the company, Automattic, that runs the project (Akismet for spam, polldaddy for polls). It has been on the list all five years, and we are thankful for such cool, and free, software.
Website: automattic.com Location: San Francisco, California, United States Founded: July 1, 2005 Funding: $30.6M
Automattic is a web development and blogware company which can attribute much of its success to its popular blog platform WordPress.com, an adaptation of the open source WordPress project. The company was founded by 20-something… Learn More
Yammer, a Twitter-like service for companies to use internally, won TechCrunch50 in 2008 and is an essential productivity tool at TechCrunch. We long ago moved to the paid version of the service, and we’ve never looked back.
Website: yammer.com Location: San Francisco, California, United States Founded: September 10, 2008 Funding: $5M
Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: “What are you working on?”
As employees answer that question, a feed is created in one central location… Learn More
This is the fourth year in a row for YouTube. It’s always good for a two minute entertainment diversion from work, and we use it exclusively to host our own video content.
Inspired by the Techcrunch post I’ll add my list
Like Mike I use this every day. It has become an indispensable tool. Unlike Mike I don’t have an Android phone (the ones I’ve seen have too much lag — can’t tell if the OS needs optimization or just bigger CPUs in the phones). Google had a native Blackberry Google voice app and I’ve been using that lately with a lot of success. Before that I used a combination of the Google Voice web site and my Nokia phone. Clunky but effective.
Nokia Booklet 3G
This fall I gathered up some old gadgets and gear and sold them on Gazelle (www.gazelle.com). I used the proceeds to invest in a netbook, specifically the new Nokia Booklet 3G. A lot of the review were negative on the Nokia, mostly about the performance with Windows 7. I didn’t think it was that bad, but I mostly used it to run Gmail with the Chrome browser. Running Word, Powerpoint or Outlook on it would be hell I’m sure. That said where the Nokia shines is in portability, connectivity (the 3G modem for AT&T works great) and battery life where I’m consistently seeing 8+ hours before needing to reach for the charger. While I still use my Mac for photos (Picasa), presentations (Powerpoint) and heavier work the Nokia has become my everyday email+social media+web browsing go to machine.
One of the first things I did with my new Nokia netbook is install Ubuntu 9.10. While I’ve never been a Linux geek and have for most of the last few years been a big Mac OS X fan, I’ve been really pleased with Ubuntu. It installed on the Nokia without a hitch and everything worked out of the box. There were a few small issues that I figured out after some Google searches and forum reading. It’s much faster than Windows 7 Starter edition. Not sure it’s for everyone but don’t be afraid to try it. It’s become my default OS on the Nokia.
(just about any) Tumi bag
I have two Tumi laptop bags, a rollaboard suitcase and a folding suitcase from Tumi. They still look as good as when I got them despite *lots* of travel and have really survived everything I’ve put into and taking out of them.