Hello! And welcome to our Friday column, Worst of the Week. There’s a lot of nutty stuff that goes on in this industry, so this column is a chance for us at RCRWireless.com to rant and rave about whatever rubs us the wrong way. We hope you enjoy it!
And without further ado:
The tablet world was rocked this week when Microsoft announced its latest foray into the space with its highly anticipated Surface device sporting the latest Windows operating system. The move was so “rocking” because as we all know there are currently not enough tablets currently on the market nor any one in particular that really embodies the feature set required of a “not-a-smartphone, not-a-laptop” computing device.
Now, when I say “rocked” what I mean is “barely noticed,” and what I mean by “highly anticipated” is “no one really cares.” Microsoft has a bit of a history with underwhelming unveilings, some of which portended to brief stints for those devices. Kin anyone?
From watching numerous Microsoft events live, it always seems to me that while there are smart people in Redmond, the people that they trot out on stage do not connect with what the audience wants. They do a great job and spend a lot of money on concepts of what the product(s) they are announcing and how these products can be integrated into one’s life, but they seem to whiff on the specifications.
This was true again with the Surface announcement. There was a lot of talk on concepts, but very little information on details or specifications or pricing. I think Microsoft feels that they can string along the news by announcing more specifications as they get closer to launch, but that seems to only just lose people along the way.
Also hurts when those doing the demonstration are having to do so with devices that are not yet ready for prime time.
Hard to blame Microsoft, or anyone really, for trying to extend the launch buzz of a device. But it seems this act is getting a bit out of hand. It would be one thing if we lived in some world that did not involve near instantaneous communications and hordes of people that make it their life mission to seek out every secret in the consumer electronics world. Has there really been a device launch in the past five years that has been truly an unveiling? There are no secrets anymore, and companies that continue to play this game only look foolish.
And the name: Surface. Surface? Not that any tablet really has a great name, but at least iPad is something memorable, even if for the wrong reasons. Surface is a name I have forgotten mere second after having typed it. Literally, I have to constantly look up the name every time before typing it. Surface?
Microsoft is not alone in its launch struggles, as just this week Samsung also fell on its face in launching a new device. The handset giant held a “celebrity” event in New York City hosted by actress Ashley Greene (go ahead and Google her … I’ll wait), attended by a handful of players from the National Basketball Association and a “special surprise performance” by DJ Skrillex. That’s right … Skrillex was in the house!
Now, most might have not been aware of this event as it was put on by Samsung. If this was an event for the latest iPhone, you can bet it would have been the top story across most news sites. And did I mention that Skrillex was in the house!
Samsung’s attempt at connecting with its audience might also have been hurt by certain features of the new Galaxy S III smartphone that seem intended to hurt its audience. (Really Samsung, exploding phones?!?)
By contrast, Apple has this whole dog and pony show down pat. They are tight-lipped leading up to the event; they come out with products that generally don’t follow what is already in the market; and they provide just about all the details a person could want up front. They also do not rely on any celebrities, except those from its management team, and thus they never look like they are trying.
I guess the only real positive from the Microsoft (Surface, was it?) launch is that there was no mention of a cellular-enabled model, thus preventing wireless carriers from having to embarrass themselves by trying to add the device to their portfolio with some crazy “subsidized” pricing scheme. However, with so little detail of the device actually released, it’s hard to really know what Microsoft has in store for the device.
I understand that Microsoft is predominately a software company and software is typically less exciting than hardware, but when Microsoft has the chance to rollout hardware, it needs to swing for the fences, not lay down a bunt.
OK, enough of that.
Thanks for checking out this week’s Worst of the Week column. And now for some extras:
–Speaking of device specifications, Plantronics’ Clarity division recently unveiled a device that truly packs the features a rapidly graying population needs. Check out these specs:
“Loud and easy-to-use phone” (Like talking between two cans linked by a string.)
“2-inch LCD color display with large, easy-to-read characters” (2-inch display!?! What is this, the 21st Century?!?)
“Large dial pad with soft-touch buttons” (Mmmmmm, soft-touch buttons.)
“Bluetooth wireless technology” (I thought this phone was supposed to be simple?)
“Three speed dial buttons” (What’s wrong with just one speed dial button? Remember, simple?)
“Nine ring tones” (See above.)
“Loud, vibrating and flashing visual ringers” (Now we are talking.)
“GSM Quad-band technology compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile networks” (GSM, quad-band what?)
“Hearing aid compatible” (What!?!)
–Finally, despite the latest scientific mumbo-jumbo, I remain convinced that teleportation will someday become a reality. If Samsung can host a party with special guest Skrillex, then by golly I should be able to teleport!
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