The Annoying Commoditization of Technology
We can battle it out over Apple versus the rest of technology. And I realize we’re a political site, but I’m the editor and I’m sick so you’ll have to deal with my venting.I do prefer Apple products. I grew up with them. I find them easy to use. I do not feel the need to rip out the guts of machines and add upgrade cards, etc. They work for me. Your mileage may vary. What used to be a Cult of Apple has become a Cult of Apple Haters, with the iPad and iPhone the two singularly most popular tablet and phone devices sold. More and more it is cool to hate on Apple as more and more people actually embrace Apple, making it one of the most valuable companies on earth.What is striking to me is how Apple has refused to commoditize its products. They have their proprietary OS X system and iOS. They have a handful of devices with limited upgrades on their computers for variation. The options for the iPhone and iPad are mostly limited to cellular provider, or not, and memory. With the exception of Samsung, now in a dispute with Apple over stealing the look of Apple’s products, most of the other devices out there just seem to be flimsy. Even the copycat Samsung products are, on touch, flimsy.Then there is the rank commoditization of the electronics market that so frustrates me.
I finally got a Blu-Ray player last night, really only because I bought the original, theatrical release of Star Wars, don’t own a DVD player because of iTunes and Netflix, and decided to get one. I went to Best Buy. It took close to thirty minutes to pick out a damn device. There were the wi-fi devices and the ethernet devices. There were the devices that required a thumb drive (not included) and the ones with built in memory. Their names were EXD75000-PL and FX10000-Z, etc. WTF?!?!Why does Samsung need four models of Blu-Ray player at Best Buy that all seem to be the same? Panasonic was no better.It was the most unpleasant electronics buying experience I have had in a very long time. All I wanted was something that played a disc and connected to my TV. Instead, I came out with a wireless connecting Blu-Ray player with NetFlix built in (is there any electronic device left in which it is not?), a bunch of other crap I couldn’t care less about, and a remote control that looks like this:Why does it need two power buttons?
Meanwhile, on a trip to the AT&T store, my wife wanted to replace her iPhone because she simply cannot type on the keyboard. It has more to do with Apple’s design choice to float suggested words over the word she is typing, which drives her insane. She bought a Samsung android device with a flimsy, tear off back that seems to lose its connection with the SIM card routinely. It is difficult to navigate, takes forever to start up because it has to display both the SAMSUNG lettering then the AT&T graphic, and has so many miscellaneous options to it neither of us would ever use that cannot be hidden or moved.It has become so cheap to mass produce so much electronic, plastic crap that no thought seems to go into the actual function of the device beyond loading it up with every damn option imaginable. Advertising all the bells and whistles on the device may make for a plethora of advertising options, but it makes actual use of the device crap.