Thursday, January 28, 2010

The important role of pretentious jerks

Ok everybody. Calm down. It's been a whole day since the apple keynote in which the much denied apple 'tablet' was revealed to thousands of turtleneck-clad art students and other people who had nothing to do in the middle of a Wednesday. For those of you not in the know, check here for a quick run-down of what the thing does and here for a quick list of what it doesn't.
So now that we're all briefed on what this is all about, lets get down to the inevitable 'mac vs pc' debate. Everyone who works on design and anything to do with art please go to that side of the room. And everyone who does 'actual' work (programming, troubleshooting, anything non-artsy) please go to that side.
Everyone else who doesn't really care, stay where you are so we can talk. Ok good. Now listen, this thing is just a thing. It's a big iPhone or a little computer. Die-hard Mac fans or their opposite number will not be persuaded to think different [hah!] just because of some article on a blog. However I do have a few things to say on the subject of innovation, imitation, and the law of diminishing returns.

Here's the way this whole thing works.
1. __________ comes out with a new product that no one has really made before.
1.a) It's expensive because no one has made it before.
1.b) It lacks a number of features because its new and no one has made it before.
1.c) People who get one of the first ones feel fancy for having one first.
2. The product does really really well and makes loads of money for ______.
3. Other companies design and release their own versions of the product to cash in on the craze.
3.a) Their product is often cheaper.
3.b) Their product often has many if not all of the features the first one was lacking.
3.c) Their product is sneered at by the people who felt good for being first, but now feel kind of stupid for paying twice as much for half the product 6 months earlier.
4. Everyone gets on with life.

There. That's it. Yes Mac came out with a very futuristic looking 3G capable netbook. Yes its expensive. Yes it's cool looking. Yes it lacks a bunch of features my $300 netbook from last year has. And Yes we will probably see a whole slew of innovators and imitators in the next year or so. But thats just the way things go.
The same thing happened with the iPod. The same thing happened with the iPhone. The fact that I have a Sansa MP3 player and an HTC G1 are testimony to these facts.
Early innovators and first developers never get it right on the first try, and they're always more expensive than their innovating imitators. So please, shut up about the stupid iPad. It's a nifty take on an existing concept, and we'll see a lot more done with it as time goes on.

You may now go back to hating each other based on your preferred hardware for watching porn and checking Facebook.

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