Sunday, July 08, 2007

we need to talk...

Was discussing the issues slowly developing with the iPhone and rumors of it "not living up to the hype" with some friends the other day. Soon, our discussion turned very interesting, the XBox got thrown into the mix and we started debating about the so-called prowess of the modern day tech industry.

Are today's tech companies trying to add more and more features in-order to make headline news and impress Wall Street, instead of developing reliable products? Is the modern day consumer so excited with these flashy features that effectiveness and reliability have lost meaning.

ya. Intel has its own share of poor products... Google gives a pathetic excuse for every bug by adding a "beta" to every single product and never bringing it out of that stage... msft, no need to say more..

Though not obvious, this is easily true. Of course, Gmail had a good array of features, combined with ~2.8 gigs of storage space which seemed out of the world during those days. But 2yrs later, the free-email arena presents a very different picture. Now, offers 5gigs of space and (one of my favorites during college!) has 3gb of space. AOL has also greatly improved its email interface and the feature-set. Microsoft, which brought its Ajax version of Hotmail as the LiveMail, was quick to bring it out of beta. And, Yahoo-mail still rocks!

So, one tends to wonder: Did the mechanical and heavy engineering industries of the earlier decades also go through this phase of creating underperforming goods before improving them substantially to built the foundations of modern day construction & aerospace industry? Did they get this chance to show experimental products out in the open market so easily??

One might argue that the heavy engineering industries dealt with human lives upfront, while software bugs don't bite us directly. But, if the amount of time and money wasted on such products are considered, wouldn't such passive beta errors easily cripple the functioning of an organization and throw it out of business much quicker?

Should Microsoft be allowed to boldly take a 1billion hit from the changes required in Xbox just because it is capable of doing so? In today's highly technological world, shouldn't there be better predetermined standards for all these products, so that when they are released into the market they come with the reliability of a lathe. Or, are we moving towards a new phase where markets turn into research labs and consumers the lab rats?

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