Technology is a Gamble – Get over It

Technology is a GambleWe 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?

Photo: moparx

4 comments On Technology is a Gamble – Get over It

  • Good article, it always puzzles me why people get so angry over technology. I’m personally thankful that technology moves so fast, it makes it fun 🙂

    As for your final question “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?”. Let me have a think and see if I can come up with 5:

    1) [b]Vista:[/b] I was VERY excited about Vista and was quite a vocal proponent of it before the final version arrived on he shelves. Sadly, it was a disappointment and it took till Windows 7 for me to get the Vista experience I wanted.

    2) [b]iPad:[/b] I got a 3rd gen iPad when it came out, the screen made it very tempting, and to this day I say it is the best screen I have ever used. Sadly the rest of the device leaves much to be desired. I was after a true flexible device, where multitasking was seamless, and with great portability. Well, I don’t like the UI, there sure are a few ways of switching between apps, but it isn’t efficient when it comes to maximizing the way you work with it. In many ways my Android phone is better at switching between apps! It is also rather heavy, it may be magazine sized, but it isn’t comfortable to hold for that long. Ultimately I ended up using my very old ultra-portable laptop more than the iPad. This is a shame as the iPad was meant to replace the ageing laptop, in the end the iPad simply got relegated to games for the kids and browsing the Web in front of the TV.

    3) [b]Nokia N95:[/b] I never wanted a phone more than this. On paper it looked like it could do everything! Sadly the usability wasn’t there, it always felt more like an experimental prototype than a finished product. Very poor indeed.

    4) [b]Nintendo N64:[/b] Whilst there was nothing wrong with the N64, in fact it was a great console. It came at a time when other console manufacturers were switching to CDs, and it meant that the games for the N64 were considerably more expensive.

    5) … No, I can’t come up with a 5th 🙂

  • This would be a great article to bring to my next technology meeting – which happens to be today! I believe that many people, schools and businesses use this as an excuse to not buy new devices or develop new programs.

    By the way – I asked you a couple months ago to use your PUGS acronym (punctuation, usage, grammar and spelling) – it is working great! All I have to do now is type those four letters and most of my students know exactly what is expected!

  • Life is short, so loving that technology is moving fast.

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