Are we too focussed on hardware gimmicks?

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John Gruber said something interesting on the latest Talk Show when he described the Google Pixel. He said that he could happily live with it if it ran iOS and that it was by far the best Android device he had used to date. The problem for him was that it ran Android.

And that is the important part…

I could use many of the later Android phones if they ran iOS and be perfectly happy, possibly even more so with some models. I could use a Windows PC if it ran macOS and would be happy. My iMac is a beautifully design product, but I look at the screen all way, not the aluminium.

If I discount the internal components in iPhones and Macs, which are arguably superior to much of the competition, the only real difference is the software and that is something the tech industry does not talk about to much, and with good reason.

Phone and computer manufacturers need to continually update their products to make money, but the reality is that this does not bring huge benefits for the user. The iPhone 7 is the perfect example; better camera (fake bokeh), faster processor, new home button mechanism, black paint etc etc. None of this makes much difference to the user and the reality is that an iPhone 6S is 95% as good for 60% of the price. The same is true for countless Android devices and now Macs and PCs.

I’m not saying that there are no advantages and that the improvements are not required, but I am saying that the hardware changes are no verging on being mere novelty in exchange for a lot of money when the reality is that most people will stay with the device they like because of the software.

I know very few people who would not move from iOS to Android because they don’t like the phones on offer. The choice is too wide for there not to be a device almost everyone would want if they wanted to leave iOS. However, they want to stay with the iPhone because of iOS and not because it pretends to be a low-end DSLR.

The same applies to Mac and Windows users. Despite the fact that the scope of pricing and availability is wider here, the majority stay because of the OS they use and know so well.

I just think that the likes of Apple and Microsoft could do more with the software and not revert to hardware gimmicks to catch our attention, and of course our money.



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3 replies

  1. There was and probably still is some very good advice when buying a computer of any sort, desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Figure out roughly what you want to do with it and then look for what will do that well. In other words, figure out the software first and then get the hardware that will handle it.

    I’ve found that almost all non-gaming software is either available on the Mac or has an equivalent. I’m sure there are some very high-end applications that don’t have equivalents but at that point you’re probably looking at a single purpose machine. Gaming is a different story. And all I can say is that I’m happy my iMac runs BootCamp so well. But I do prefer running games under MacOS where possible.

  2. My girlfriend is about to start a new job on the side, and she needs a laptop, Windows. And the first thing I said to her is, find out what you need to use it for exactly, and then we can start looking. The right tool, for the right job at the right price.

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