We see it all the time. You or someone you know will go out and buy a gadget only to have it rendered obsolete a week later when a new version is announced. Of course, that version isn’t set to ship for a month or two after the initial unveiling, so taking your recent purchase back to the store and exchanging it for a new one isn’t exactly possible. Instead, you’re left with yesterday’s model while everyone else around you appears to be carrying around the latest and greatest.
Let’s face it: Technology is a gamble. It has been a gamble all along. You never really know if something is going to work for you until you bring it home and spend some time with it. Even operating systems like Windows or OS X are continually evolving as users discover pros and cons throughout their time with them. A phone might do everything you could want and more, but it isn’t until you take it home that you realize the reception under your roof isn’t exactly what you expected.
Technology is constantly evolving. Even when you pick up a product on the day it comes out, there’s a very good chance that the next generation of that technology is already in the advanced stages of development. Product roadmaps commonly extend five years, and the general consumer has no idea exactly what the next version of a product may hold.
This evolution isn’t always as immediately apparent. Windows 8, for example, is a gamble in and of itself by Microsoft to predict what the average user experience will be like in the next five years. By taking a step in that direction, Microsoft hopes to be ahead of the curve. The downside for consumers comes when they, too, take part in that bet by buying into products with Windows 8 pre-installed. There is no guarantee that these changes will take hold and progress. It’s possible that Microsoft might backtrack and go a different direction should its customer base push back.
When Apple decided to ditch its G5 processors in favor of Intel products, there was a large component of Apple’s community that pushed back on it very heavily. In the end, this gamble paid off very well for Apple because it meant that the Mac could run a variety of operating systems well beyond OS X. Many customers buy a Mac just to put Windows or Linux on it, after all.
Companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft are all players in a giant poker game. Sometimes they win, and sometimes they lose. We are placing bets for or against these companies with our purchases. They might have a lucky hand and a great product, but that doesn’t mean the next one will be any better.
Where Does the Anger Come From?
One thing I’ve certainly noticed over the years is the extreme amount of anger coming from the general population surrounding technology. It seems really easy to forget that we’re talking about mobile phones and laptops when folks are so eager to spout obscenities and make note of someone’s intelligence (or perceived lack thereof) based on their buying decisions.
If I wasn’t battle hardened over the years (I’m at about 1,000 articles on LockerGnome alone), I would be afraid to share my opinion about the new iPhone or an Android update because it would almost certainly be met with declarations of judgment on my intelligence.
Look folks, I talk to the engineers who develop these products regularly. These engineers work really hard to meet the demands of their respective multinational corporations, and trust me when I say that talent is high no matter where you go. There are brilliant engineers working on Android, just as there are brilliant ones working on iOS devices. The value of the products comes down to decisions made by the board and committees that serve it.
Every company fails from time to time. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at .Mac or Windows Vista. Not every product made by your favorite company is going to be perfection. You’re taking a gamble with every dollar you spend. I know I have my regrets. I jumped on board the Clear bandwagon and even gave up my mobile phone in favor of VoIP and a mobile hotspot. That’s one gamble that didn’t pay off at all.
Have you ever made a bad gamble with technology? Have you ever backed or otherwise supported devices and/or software that turned out to be a little less than impressive after having used them for a while?