This article in Wired caught my eye this morning, and made me think about one of my favourite things – gadgets. Their theory is that the iPhone won’t catch on much in Japan because they’re already got supercool phones that do a million things, and won’t be interested in a phone that only does a hundred things, even if it does those things in very nice way.

It’s an interesting question, and one that boils down to one of the age-old dilemmas – do we want quality, or quantity? Some restaurants thrive because their portions are very big, but others because their portions are small, but completely delicious.

So what kind of shopper am I? Well, I think anyone who knows me who agree that I am a bit of a gadget fiend. I like complicated things. While I am shocked and appalled at some of the things that are sold in Japan, that’s generally because of the horror of the marketting (go away Hello Kitty! I am not interested!), rather than not liking the over-engineering of some of their ideas.

As some of you may know, I am no lover of Apple. I suppose some of that was the dumbed down simplicity of some of their products, like the old one-button mouse, which I particularly hated. But that’s old Apple. New Apple computers now run on top of Linux, practically the most complicated way to run a computer on the planet (beaten only by MVS on IBM mainframes I’ll wager). And the new Apple mouse is so over-engineered it’s astonishing. But the result of this is something that at first glance looks simple and uncomplicated, but underneath has enough complexity to make a hacker weep with joy. It’s a killer combination, and has gained them a lot of friends. It’s quality in top, with unexpected quantity underneath.

And so although the iPhone may not go down well in Japan, in the computer world, they’re winning over the gadget lovers. Oh, I hates them. Nasty hobbitses…

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2 Responses to “Gadgetry”

  1. Niall Says:

    “New Apple computers now run on top of Linux …” – that be fighting talk 🙂 MacOS is, IIRC, based on FreeBSD – not Linux. See this cheat sheet for some differences. In fact it’s a (very sad, IMHO) indication of just how fragmented the Unix world is – which is a shame, as the *nix community really put their heads together it’d provide much stronger competition to GatesOS.

    “… practically the most complicated way to run a computer on the planet”. Um … have you looked inside Windows? Problem of course is that whereas the Unix (and Mac) world does things correctly (separating kernel and eye-candy), BillG and friends merge the two in the most horrendous mess. Windows is far more complicated – seriously. For simplistic use-cases, it’s fine – try to step outside of the pre-ordained ways of working (especially with Microsoft software on top) and you’re generally sunk!

    Now if that doesn’t get you a discussion started …

  2. Norwin Says:

    I’ll certainly accept point one – I was loose with my terminology.
    I’m not sure I will completely accept point two. I suppose what I am thinking of is the not so much the internal complexity, but the external complexity. When you walk up to windows PC, it does try to help you (try being perhaps the most important word). My perception of a unix box is that it is much less friendly to get to grips with, and easier to break (unles it’s surrounded by Mac eye candy, doubtless)
    Though neither require you to preallocate the right amount of disk space for your files when you create them (unlike MVS).

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