Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

In tech, the fewer killers, the better

There’s much talk of killing in many commentaries about gadgets these days. ¬†Every new smartphone is looked at as a potential iPhone killer. With all this talk of death, it would seem that the iPad has a set of cross hairs on its aluminum shell. All this killing is problematic, though, as it almost never happens as predicted.

Talking about killing seems simple and snappy; after all, it’s dramatic and violent. But when I go buy a gadget, I don’t care about what’s killing what. What I want is a product that gives me all the features that I’m looking for. Where it sits in the market could matter less to me, so long as I have something that works the way I want it to.

Personally, I love my iPhone. It does everything I want it to do the way I want it to be done. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily right for you. I know people who are equally married to their Droid, Palm Pre or Blackberry. That’s okay, too: there’s room for more than one product in a given sector. New laptops from Dell don’t make other laptops obsolete. The fact that a new Android phone comes out (which seems to happen every month or so) doesn’t mean that the iPhone’s days are numbered. It just means that there’s more competition in the realm of smartphones.

In tech journalism, calling something a killer is just a cop-out, a sort of intellectually vacant shorthand that allows for easy, unintelligent analysis. Why not judge a product on its merits?

Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab, which is important not because its name sounds like a brand of interstellar hipster cola, but because it’s an “iPad-killer,” as CNET’s Marguerite Reardon noted on her “Signal Strength” blog.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the Galaxy Tab will not single-handedly cause Apple to pull the iPad from stores. Odds are that another product won’t be able to do it, either.

However, that doesn’t stop technology journalists from wasting their breaths talking about whether or not the Galaxy Tab can kill the iPad. Who cares? The story that we should be caring about is not whether or not the Galaxy Tab will be able to unseat the iPad from a position of market dominance. Instead, what’s important is a given product’s merits. Of course it makes sense to compare a new product to a market leader in order to find similarities and differences. But a great product should be able to stand on its own, not in competition with something else.

Here’s the bottom line: worrying about whether or not a new product will be able to kill another product is a waste of everyone’s time. There’s room for more than one product in a given market, and competition is good. Succumbing to the idea that somehow every product must perfectly replace every other product that came before it is dumb.

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