Archive for giugno, 2012

Market Driven

posted by Viking
giu 27

All the products names are copyrights or trademarks registered by their own manufacturers.

Back in the good old days when computers weren’t mean to be used – and were costly enough not to be purchased – by anyone, there weren’t any design or weight issues.
Desktop computers were rugged and ugly and no one cared, as long as they were powerful enough for their job. Laptop computers were bulky and costly enough to be a professional / enterprise – only choice. Mobile phones were the same, and voice calls were really costly too.

No one really cared about design until Apple made the first iMac, a PowerPC G3 based computer that looked nice and didn’t seems a computer at all, maybe a small colored TV. With the introduction of the various following models, more and more people started buying Apple hardware. The introduction of the iPod was another successful move, selling millions of units. Then followed the iPhone, the rest is history…

Apple did a very good job, creating a large user base and a series of product related – and complimentary – with each others. Owning an iPod, an iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook and an iMac is not that uncommon, assuming a person can afford such an expense.
They ( sort of ) share the same design or style and people continue buying them. Of course competitors started to manufacture similar products with sometimes good, sometimes bad results.

As I wrote, today a device is meant also to be good to see and show to the others, in a similar way as cars and girlfriends ( or boyfriends ). People want them to be that way, because they buy them, so there’s a market for them: the evolution of the well known Supply & Demand model.
Of course common people aren’t supposed to be “power users” or “pro users”, they simply want something that works, that keep working without maintenance and that in case of trouble can be sent to a service and repair center to be fixed until it’s so old that repairing it isn’t the best choice anymore.
The problem is “power users” or “pro users” ( like, for instance, me ) don’t like this way of thinking and are starting to get tired of such products that are not customizable, not upgradable or not fixable.

Once I tried to open a 5th generation 30GB iPod ( my father bought one, and he always say he’ll not make the same mistake twice ) to replace the dead battery – pretty common after 4 / 5 years – with a new one I found on the net for as little as 10€ ( included shipping from Germany ). After cursing for over an hour trying to open that thing following various tutorials I found on the net, I gave up, but I’m still thinking why on Earth Apple’s engineers / designers didn’t simply put four little torx screws on the rear. Of course I already know the answer: because people don’t like seeing the screws, even if they’re covered by plastic or gum caps, because devices without screws sell better, because the vast majority of people are not expected to replace a battery, they’re expected to replace the whole product with a costly new one.

Of course, from a “corporate” point of view, no one can blame Apple in any way. They’re absolutely right – no sarcasm here. They sell a lot and that demonstrates that they’re doing the right thing, manufacturing devices that people wants.

But, considering how many things ( TVs, computers, LCD and CRT monitors, various electronic devices, etc. ) I’ve successfully disassembled, repaired and reassembled with a minimum effort of time and money – and, sometimes, no money at all – from a certain point of view it’s sad to see how any customer is supposed to be so dumb he’s unable to use a screwdriver to replace an hard drive or a RAM module, while from another point of view, alas, almost any customer will never need that capability because he’ll never replace the battery or add RAM to his system or replace the hard drive because, even if as simple as it is, he’s not able to.

In the meantime, I’ll avoid buying phones without interchangeable batteries, laptops without standard screws or any other device that is, beyond it’s inherent limits, not serviceable, not upgradable nor fixable.
Question is, how long such devices will be available on the consumer market?

Bye

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