Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tech and Consumerism

In rearranging my work machines I found myself pondering the tech world from the perspective of a consumer. I'm constantly looking for devices to make my work flow and environment more manageable and more reliable. For most people, any computer will do until it breaks or fails. Because so much of what I do requires a computer, I don't have that luxury. My creative energy doesn't quit just because my work station does.

I marvel at how polarized people have become when it comes to tech. I half expect to start seeing decals depicting one operating system urinating on another appear in the back windows of Subaru Outbacks and Honda Accords. Technophiles and Geeks assign to their ego a measure of the devices they own or don't own. I'm no different and certainly no more evolved than any other Technophile in that regard.

It sounds ridiculous, but all you have to do is look at the tech market itself and a pattern starts to emerge.

I need something that will run Windows 7 for my WP7 dev tools, animation editor, and similar. I think about all the computers I've owned and built and which companies provided me the best service. Obviously, I want a device manufacturer that updates their equipment to work with Windows 7 promptly and accurately with no bugs. I need the drivers for the hardware to be current so the device functions efficiently and reliably.

Of all the machines I've owned, my Macintosh has the best track record relative to being updated to work with Windows. Wait, aren't they supposed to be rivals? How is Apple beating Asus, HP, Dell, and other device manufacturers to the punch relative to being a stable environment to run Windows 7?

It's about simplicity.

Looking just at Laptops, Apple has less than 10 devices with four different screen sizes on the market, most running with very similar hardware. Asus has nearly 80 such devices, each with different hardware configurations and specifications. Which product line will be easier to quickly and accurately update to act as an environment for an operating system?

I'll be putting my theory to the test when my copy of Parallels (and my 16GB ram) shows up and I run a virtual box of Windows 7 on my Mac, load my Dev Tools, and try to execute a .xap file in the emulator. From the reviews I've read, I'm not the only person who thought this was a good idea, and allegedly... other developers have done this successfully without a hitch.

Does the street go both ways?

Microsoft Office for Mac? Works like a charm. Windows Phone 7 Sync Utility for Mac? No complaints thus far. In fact, I like some of how it syncs with my device even better than iTunes. Admittedly, it isn't difficult to stand head and shoulders above iTunes in that regard.

Am I suggesting that everyone run out and buy a Mac and install Windows 7 on it? Yes, if you want the best Windows machine on the market you don't build yourself. Do I think you can tell a lot about someone based on the smartphone they bought? Nope. I think the mobile market isn't old enough yet for people to have any true brand loyalty.

It is for that reason that within that market we're seeing incredible innovation and competition occur. Even the biggest companies know they can't win alone and have sought the independent and small developers to make their platforms worthwhile to the consumer. 2011 should be an interesting year.

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