November 19, 2007

My Top Ten Complaints for Tech Companies

"I'm the consumer, and as far as I'm concerned it's all about me."

That's how the article starts, and it makes some good points, but also some really lame ones, and ones that have nothing to do with corporate control. Fayboyism, for example, cannot be created by companies - they may encourage it, but it is completely up to other consumers to make it happen. Here's my quick list of the top ten complains as a consumer.

10. Building hype by an insanely low projected price that more than doubles by the release date. Example - EEE PC for $199, OLPC for $100.

9. Crazy number of versions of your product. Vista, Xbox 360, PS3.

8. Kind of a combination of the above to - offering a crippled version of your product to get that extra low "starting at" price - Vista Home Basic, Xbox 360 Core, MacBook Combo Drive.

7. 3 hour or less battery life. There is no device that i use where 3 hour battery life is close to acceptable. It's almost 2008. Figure out how to get more power into and out of batteries, and how to make the power that is already there last longer, while improving performance. Tall order? Yes. But if we can get to the moon, cars with over 100 mpg, and if my DS Lite can run for 10 hours straight without a recharge - my laptop should be able to make it through Return of the King on the plane.

6. Treating consumers like criminals. This includes, DRM, closed systems (iPhone), anti-piracy ads on DVDs and in theaters, suing lipsyncers on YouTube, WGA, 16 digit authorization codes, etc. Antipiracy ads in theaters are the stupidest things ever. I'm in the theater! I bought th damn ticket! I'm not a pirate, at least not right this second. Right this second I'm spending about $50 for me, my wife, and two kids to watch this movie and eat popcorn. Do you think that the guy who sneaks in the shaky digital camcorder is going to record that part of the movie when he uploads it to bit torrent? Do you think its going to change his mind about what he is doing? Who are you trying to reach with this message? Whoever they are - they aren't the ones watching it!

5. Any rebates other than instant rebates. Mail in rebates are a scam. You know most people won't remember / bother to actually send it in, and those who do, part of them will get it wrong. Either sell the item at the after-rebate price, or don't. But don't show me the "after rebate price" as the actual cost of the item when you are going to deduct more than that from my account if I buy the thing.

4. Unskippable stuff. Whether its dialog in a video game, a flash intro to a website, or previews on a DVD - I should be able to skip it. That's why I use Firefox. That's why I have TiVo. No, actually, that's why I watch TV online.

3. Planned obsolescence. Releasing a product that you already have a better version of. N800 vs N810 vs the next one with the cell phone. Asus EEE PC 4 GB vs the 8 GB with the 10 inch screen. Look, Asus can deny that there is a 10 inch screen version, but look at the thing! The 7 inch screen as a inch or more border around it. If you measure the footprint of the screen and the border combined, it's exactly 10 inches diagonally It was designed from the beginning to have a 10 inch screen. Just like the N810 was designed to have be a cell phone. Just like the original MacBook was designed with the draft WiFi N spec. Why are you selling something that is already crap compared with the model you are about to release, "once the sales for the first one die down"? And why in the world does the Asus EEE PC only have 4 GB anyway? Can't Asus get storage MUCH cheaper than the consumer? Does 8 GB of flash memory really cost that much more than 4 GB? How about 16 GB? Same with RAM. They are crippling the product so they can cheaply and easily "upgrade" the product later on, with a much higher price tag, or with the same price tag and the added appearance of progress.

2. Crappy, hard to find, hard to contact, hard to communicate with, obviously outsourced tech support. I don't have a problem with outsourcing per se. I'm not one of those "They tookt R jooooobs!' kind of people. But when it comes to *PHONE SUPPORT* being able to clearly, easily, and effectively communicate in English is a vital ability for the employees to have. And, I'm sorry "Jason" who is obviously not from Tulsa, who can't understand that the name "Jimmy" does not have a Z in it, is not qualified to do that job. (And, yes, that is an actual example from my own life. It wasn't that I misunderstood the caller, he said "Z as in Zebra" when spelling my boss's name, Jimmy, back to me.) And that's not the only problem. If I have to click through more than 3 screens on your website from the home page to find a contact number - there is a problem. If I have to go through a 10 part wizard to have the privilege of filling out a form to email your support team, there is a problem. And if I have done all of that, and the answer I get back has "ZERO" to do with my problem. I'm done with your service.

1. Lack of true innovation. When was the last time the industry was turned on its head? The iPhone? Are you kidding me? That's what passes for groundbreaking these days? I'm sorry, I though Palm had touchscreen cell phones in the 90s, did I miss a memo? Was I time shifting reality again? Where's the really super cool stuff? Where are the cell phone projectors I read about in 2004? Where are the laser projected keyboards that I read about in 2005? Where are the flying cars? Ok - I understand that last one will never happen, but still.

I know I picked on the EEE PC a lot, it's pretty cool, really. But, it's just a cheap small laptop. It's not groundbreaking either. The iPhone is pretty and the OS is nice, but it's so crippled by corporate politics and money hungry business practices, that it lacks some basic functions. The

The Wii is awesome, but it doesn't have a hard drive, and the online play is crap - and why the hell didn't it ship with a keyboard and mouse, or at least the ability to use them, and why can't it still play DVDs or use BlueTooth keyboards/mice/headphones? It seems like, (and this might go back to point #8), if they can and do innovate in one area, the rest of the product is crap. I don't get it.

Where is the Wii60 with the awesome graphics *AND* crazy fun game play *AND* storage *AND* great online play? Where is the iPhone with the keyboard, TXTing, and the open SDK for third party apps? Where's my gPHONE!? And, seriously, where is my flying Delorian with the Mr. Fusion?

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