Technology Quote of the Day

26 August 2011 at 10:32 am 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

Andrew McAfee:

Jobs and Apple have done the best job of answering with their products the question posed by wiki inventory Ward Cunningham: What’s the simplest thing that could possibly work? As I’ve stressed before, most technologists / nerds / geeks don’t think this way — they think that success comes from cramming in features and functions, bells and whistles.

I’ve made this point many times in my speaking and teaching on technology and innovation, particularly with regard to so-called “QWERTY effects” and the claim that markets with network externalities tend to select suboptimal technologies.  A serious problem in this literature is that “optimal” is almost always defined from the engineer’s point of view, not the consumer’s (e.g., Betamax was “really” better than VHS because the picture quality was higher and the tapes more compact, even though the recording time was shorter and the recorders much more expensive). Aside from what the market chooses, by what standard do we deem one technology more “efficient” — in an economic sense — than another?

As one disgruntled RIM employee complained recently to upper management: “The whole campaign around the [Blackberry] Playbook seems to be ‘IT DOES FLASH! LOOK!’ . . . but honestly, my mother doesn’t know or care about that. She wants to know ‘can I play Angry Birds?'”

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Business/Economic History, Innovation, Myths and Realities.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. NickC  |  27 August 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Surely what you mother also cares is “can I look at youtube”?

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