Friday, January 27, 2006

i sense an ugly trend

Don't get me wrong; I love Apple. However, I have to take issue with a weird trend in Hyper-Disposable technology that Apple seems to have started and other companies are now following suit with.

I think it all began with the iMac. When Mac released their first iMac, the general trend in personal computing was to simply update the processing and RAM capabilities ever year or so and a family of computer typically looked the same. However, the iMac added into the mix the concept of personal style. First came the blue and white iMac in April of '98. 7 months later came the Lifesaver-colored iMacs. Then came iMac Rev D only 3 months later which was a processing power up-grade. Then 6 months later came the Blueberry iMac. 8 months later came the Indigo- and Ruby-colored iMacs. Then Graphite and White iMacs. Then this monstrosity. Anyway, you get the point.

The consuming public was constantly being presented with new options every couple of months making lots of people who had already bought an iMac think "Damn it! Why didn't they have that color when I bought one?! That one so matches my drapes/shoes/dog/whatever." Anyway, I guess it was a successful approach for Apple because they then did the same thing with the iPod.

iPod, iPod Mini, iPod Nano, iPod Video, etc. You see where I'm going with this. Anyone who buys an Apple product has to worry throughout the next 6 months to see if Apple will suddenly announce the iPod [insert your own name] edition which would have been so perfect, if they hadn't just bought the green one with less storage space.

Anyway, it's kinda' lame. But, just as Apple became the trend setter that changed all computer peripherals from beige to Lifesaver colors, then changed portable music accessories to all match the iPod, they also seem to have their followers in the hyper-disposable tech sector.

Nintendo is the chief one among them. For years, the Gameboy was the standard of handheld gaming. Then after all of the Apple stuff went down, the market got hit with a quick succession of 5 different Gameboy incarnations in about 2 years. There was the original GBA, then the flip-top GBA, then the retro "it looks like the old NES" GBA, then came the DS, and then the GBA Micro (just like the iPod Nano).

So, what makes me bring all of this up? Nintendo announced today the DS Lite. Besides just needlessly creating another version of their existing products, Nintendo also continues their practice of copying Apple's design sense and have restyled the DS to look a helluva lot like an iPod.

[antiNintendogripe]I'm so done with Nintendo. They continue to make bizarre choices when it comes to console hardware development, have all but admitted that they haven't had any good ideas since the original NES, and seem to jump at the chance to ride the Apple Design bandwagon rather than innovate in smart ways, as opposed to innovating in retahded ways like they seem to so frequently attempt.[/antiNintendogripe]

So, yeah. The moral of the story is: Nintendo is lame and hyper-disposable technology annoys me.


EmoRiot said...

A convincing case can be made to counter your characterization of Apple's eagerness to change their design. Sure the iMac saw a lot of updates to its aesthetic but it's been around for 7 years (a epoch in the computer world). And in terms of structural changes, it's only 3 designs... the CRT box, the pivoting flat screen with the bowling-ball base, and the iPod-inspired flat-screen monitor sans noticeable cpu. And for all their willingness to add to their look roster, they kept certain principles around for a while. The first imac brought about a look called "indigo" which carried through the iMac line until they ditched the CRT monitor. The Special Edition you mentioned used a look called "Graphite" which played heavily in the design of the PowerMac G4 towers for years. In fact the G4 towers showed no structural design changes from the G3 towers even though they were totally new under the hood. Just like now, the new MacBook Pro is indistinguishable from my 4 year old G4 PowerBook on the outside despite it completely rethought-out guts.

And take the last 5 years of iPod development. There we've seen some major changes but nothing radically departing from iPod's basic concept. Apple has been perfecting something they developed called the "Click-Wheel" but all iPods have been essentially (which some exception) white rectangles with square screens and circular controllers and usually silver backs.

Companies more egregiously doing what you claim are the companies, like Nintendo, who aren't onto a winning design. People like Palm have been scrambling for years creating different devices trying to hold on to crumbling market-share. Each new device tries to squeeze a gallon into a half-gallon jug and borrows the features of competitors... and the end result is a product line that is weird. If I hold up a version 1 ipod and a version 5 ipod, you'd go "Oh an iPod." If I hold up a version 1 palm and a version X palm, you'd go "Oh two unrelated PDAs."

Bug said...

A well made point, and nicely illustrated I must add. However, what I'm griping about are instances like the U2 Special Edition iPod and the new black 60 Gig iPod Video.

When I first saw the black U2 iPod, I thought "Holy Crap!! A black iPod!! That is without a doubt the coolest one yet!! The time has finally come for me to get one!! Too bad it has Bono's signature engraved onto the back."

Anyway, finances are all that kept me from buying one. Now, if I had actually bought one when they first came out, I would have been PISSED to see the black iPod video come out not too long after.

Who the hell wants something Bono scribbled on?

By the way, isn't the "gallon into a half-gallon" that water jug puzzle from Die Hard With a Vengence that we can't ever remember the specifics to?

EmoRiot said...

It's a 5 gallon jug, a 2 gallon jug, and they need exactly 3 gallons. They fill up the 5 gallon completely, empty it into the 2 gallon jug.... then dump the... wait... no it's 4 gallons they need... so they fill the two gallon jug all the way up and then add it to the... no wait... I need to see Die Hard again.

On a similar note, I saw Ghostbusters today. It made my cold suck a little less.

EmoRiot said...

You know you're getting old when you and Andy Rooney are thinking about the same stuff. Here's his installment this week:

"I wish the people inventing things would slow down and give us some time to catch up with the last thing they invented.

They come up with new models before I know how to work my old model.

Pushed aside in my office are some old computers. I don't use them because they come up with a new model every six months and, typical American that I am, I buy them. Can you believe we're already at the point where we have old-fashioned computers? Some of my old computers go back as far as four years. When did four years get to be antique?

I bought a new printer for my computer. I hooked it up and it wouldn't print. I went back to the store and they told me the new model printer doesn't work with my old model computer.

Some of my cameras – Nikon, Canon, Rolleiflex – are some of the best cameras ever made. Now they're collector's items and I'm the collector. Cameras are all digital now. Forget those yellow rolls of film we used to have. You no longer take your film to the drugstore and get your pictures back the next day. With digital cameras, you need another gadget to get a picture that you can show anyone.

If you're 15 years old and have a cell phone, you may think people always had cell phones. Well, no one had a cell phone when your parents were your age.

Already, there are obsolete cell phones, too. I like the first cell phone I ever bought. It works. I took it into a store to buy a new battery last week. The guy looked at it, turned it over and over in his hand and said 'Boy, where did you get this?' To him, this was an antique.

Here's something you're going to have to get used to: A flashlight that has something called "diodes" in it instead of bulbs.

When I come in every morning, I make coffee, I use a Chemex, which I like. You put the coffee in the folded filter paper and pour hot water over it. Presto, it’s coffee.

A while ago, I was on Don Imus's morning radio show and he sent me a high-tech coffeemaker. You have to use these special coffee pods. They cost $9.00 for five ounces or $29 a pound for coffee.

Well, is this progress in coffee-making?

I just got a new catalog from "The Sharper Image." One ad for a new model vacuum cleaner says, "These are gorgeous, brilliantly engineered machines...." Well, I like my old Hoover. I don't care whether my vacuum cleaner is gorgeous or not.

Reinventing anything ought to be illegal less than five years after it was first invented."

Bug said...

"Didjever notice I'm old? I don't like being old. It makes me crabby. Rather than learn to adapt I find I'm on the outs like a Darwinian reject who couldn't get with the program."

- Me/Andy Rooney