Thursday, January 24, 2008

Retarded by design

At some point during the last decade or so a trend emerged with some companies - and 'defective by design' was the generic name for those attempts to fool the consumer into paying more for less or for nothing at all. The vast majority of those attempts were promptly punished by the informed consumers, and the offending companies are now in a constant fall. But while Sony was punished by the buyers after installing rootkits on their computers and Microsoft have long been a disgraced monopolist, one company managed to thrive by taking the precise same tactic and slightly changing it to what now is almost a trademark - 'retarded by design' - and is of course the worst monopolist of all, Apple itself.

The same company policy was visible with the latest Macworld announcements when Apple - together with the major labels, which for a long time were trying to pull this one - decided that it will be a lot better for their bottom lines to only rent you stuff - just another name for further limiting the consumer rights and making you pay again and again for the same thing. I have serious doubts that the informed consumers will fall for that, but given the rather low price there will be enough takers - however the profits will also be rather small and I also predict some nagging technical problems ahead (not to mention that what Apple calls 'HD movies' is actually something inferior to even the decades-old DVD quality).

The same 'as restricted as possible' approach could not be missing from the other Apple products - consumers were promised that the (unimpressive for anybody with any computer experience) Time Machine would work over the network - but of course that in order to get that you will have to buy some more stuff from Apple - that is somehow funny since it is pretty much the same as with Micro$oft, which the vast majority of macmorons love to hate :) (note for the fanboys - there is a free hack to do that and avoid paying the Apple tax - but I will not provide a link since you should learn to think/search for yourself).

But the absolute best example of the 'beautiful but retarded by design' company policy is the new Mac Air - which is actually the supreme design when the actual goal is to get as much money possible from your customer yet providing something that will have the absolute minimal use and the shortest possible life - 'planned obsolescence' at its best!

The MacBook Air is a LIE from the very start - not only you can see in many posts and articles that it is NOT the thinnest notebook, but the entire marketing strategy around that is only a classic play on the american obsession with thin, beautiful ... but shallow and without any value or loyalty :(

You see - unlike a PHONE the thickness of a notebook is totally irrelevant (since you will not be able to place it in your pocket anyway) - and is just a gimmick designed to cover the absence of any other major innovation. The actual value is in the WEIGHT - and that one is OK in the Mac HotAir, but there are MANY other better notebooks that are (a lot) lighter so SteveJ could not score any points on that direction so he needed some other 'catchline' for the fanboys :)

Surprisingly MacBook Air also gets 3 things right - but unfortunately for Apple the company used for the last ten years the entire power of it's famous distortion field against precisely those things when Dell and Toshiba and other were getting those right in the first place - and as a result the brainwashed fanboys have seen very, very little value in the fact that the CD is external (a feature about 10 years old in the Windows subnotebooks), the CPU is one of the Low-Voltage Intel models (which ARE more expensive for a very good reason, but for instance IBM/Lenovo was using similar models in the X61 and X61T for about one year now), and finally the screen is pretty much the ONLY thing that an Asus eeePC owner might really miss (at about 1/5 - 1/8 of the price, and actually a much easier to carry form factor).

But unfortunately the number of things that Apple got right are dwarfed by the amount of the deliberately bad decisions - the smallest one is that you can not expand the RAM but the fact that the ONLY 'expansion' that you get is a standard USB2 is something so stupid it's not even funny - other subnotebooks get a PCMCIA slot (where you can get 3G cellular coverage for instance), 2-3 USB ports, FireWire, memory-card readers (even eeePC has a SD card slot), gigabit Ethernet (try to backup your HDD over the wireless if you think you don't need it) and more ... last but not least being a battery that you can replace 'on the go' and get even 12 hours of battery life if you really need it! (in contrast HotAir customers will either send it to Apple for an expensive replacement - which is OK given that they will not miss it since the HotAir is only used to impress other morons - or more likely just throw away the entire gizmo - probably one of the LEAST environmentally-friendly notebook models ever built in spite of all the marketing speak that you will get from the Apple sales droids).

And of course the competing high-end models that are really expensive and a clear difference between a fanboy wannabe and the real upper-class have certain exclusive features - like being a convertible tablet (however I still consider the Dell one slightly overpriced, but at least that one gets the Ultra-Low-Voltage CPU versions from Intel) or some of the amazing Panasonic models which are not only packing a DVD writer in the same weight as the HotAir, but are also spill-resistant and about 5 times tougher!!!

So in the end there is only one thing that will sell those new products, and you can see it following this link :)


Anonymous Brad said...

You are totally right. That Apple needs to think it up. I don't care how small a laptop is if it is 200 pounds.

3:59 PM  

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