Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The rise of Good enough products

As an avid technology geek, I love new toys. I like the way that companies constantly push the boundaries on computing, newer, faster, smaller etc. One thing I notice is that the leading edge the price seems to stay the same, or in some cases (high-end home storage solutions) go up incrementally as the power of the solution goes up Qnap's new iSCSI is an excellent example. There is an interesting additional feature of the new, shiny plastic age, the trailing edge's constantly cheapening low cost, sort of like the good products. These good for the price products are the spam of the physical world and while sometimes they offer some joy for the hackers to tear apart and remix into everyday life, more often it is just functional enough for the price to pass for a product that you actually would want. The Kirf phones are an excellent example of the close but not quite products that I am talking about. Many PMP's out of our friendly Asian neighbors that mimic, mime and sometimes even manage to upstage the large electronics brands also fall into this category. None of the linked ones are as versatile as the product that they mimic (or as available in the case of some Korea or China only ones) but for the money $73usd for the 7in Media Player (usd/cny rate may vary) that is probably better than the Media Center Portables I bought, it certainly supports more formats than MC portables ever did. In some ways I applaude Apple's limited product line in so far as it limits product spam. They only offer a few models of each item at a given time, which gives them pretty nice flexablity on inventory and manufacture. I am not sure that every company could sustain with their own OS and be viable, software mono-culture has more perks than detractions (virus's be damned).

I suppose the "me too", almost the same spec with virtually no product differentiation products are getting under my skin because they are not driving invention just copying. They are the reason that I ran a 700mhz PIII until the HD died just recently, as the main day to day use computer. It was good enough. It ran xp fine, I could play youtube on it and do most of my day to day usage needs on it. Hell I ran a JEOS ubuntu django server on it for a while, I used it to stream music with ORB, and ripped dvd's. It was the primary storage for the majority of my Raw vob's when I started to convert all of our movies for my wife's iPod. It wasn't fast, and I had 4 other machines working on it at the same time, but it did the work well enough. I as able to decrypt 1 movie for every 1.5 I did on a P4 3.2ghz with a sata drive. 700mhz vs 3.2ghz and the faster was only able to complete a real world task 1.5x's faster. Sometimes good enough is good enough, I just wish that the Japanese product churn strategy had not become the modous operandi for the electronics industry. We see new models so fast that corporate IT's standardization model falls apart in the 3-5 year ownership cycle, and consumers are unable to decide what is the best product becuase every model is turned over in less than a year. There isn't time to find the flaws before you have a new model out that replaces the old model.

In example of this I have a Dlink DGL-4500 router that is very nice. It has a firmware bug that makes it so after you disable the wireless you cannot save any more settings without a factory reset. This is a 1 year old router with a 5+ month old bug, that I doubt is going to be fixed. Dlink sees the customers that may be lost as a casulty, and has moved on to newer DIR model routers. Early adopters be damned. I am mostly happy with the product, but frustrated that the way I intended to use this router adversely affects its ability to function.

No comments:

Post a Comment