I am not a techie. I do not claim to be. My hit and miss experiences with tech, combined with my skinflint ways, have carried me to looking at the practical application of cheap (or cheaper tech) in the Third Wave practice of law. The fact is that if it is too hard for me to figure out, requires something more than some simple advice on how to implement and use it, or is too expensive, then technology might be groundbreaking, but it is presently useless.
I figured this out back in the mid 90s when my large firm at the time paid IBM over $100,000 to install an AS400 (a huge piece of iron) and to connect all of the offices and computers with simulation software, T1 lines and the like so that we could achieve, in theory, what we can do easily today for the investment of a couple of grand. And, despite all of the bravado on IBM's part, all of the sloganeering, it could not make it work after it spent months getting it place. AT&T could not make the phone lines operate properly either, even though their service costs thousands of dollars a month. I now replicate what AT&T proposed today for $99 per month with a virtual PBX.
For real people, the issues for them are not tech issues, as it is application and workability issues. After all, most of us do not design system as we pick and chose what is available off the shelf (or increasingly off the cloud) and try to implement it efficiently in what we do.
The greatest difficulty for Third Wavers is a lack of accurate information or the understanding of what techies are saying. Because of this (the ability of tech devices that look just alike to actually represent apples and oranges inside), deception among providers and others runs rampant. This means there is not a lack of information for most of us. It means there is an abundance of deceptive information.
Since we are still visual beings, we favor design over an intangible things like broadband, the Internet and Google. We want to believe in design and as a result the application and pricing of a tech product is often overlooked because of the wow factor involved. In my estimation, to succeed cost effectively in the Third Wave practice you have to get past the wow factor and you have to look at products and services realistically in terms or cost, compatibility and how it serves your practical needs. That is what you have to focus on.
Partly what I mean by practical needs is that, for example, connectivity in smart phones is more important than an app for the product that makes the phone sound like a fart or appear as a class of beer being consumed. This is child's play, much like the the attorney I contacted on his iPhone (I know because he made a point of telling me it was an iPhone) recently only to be met by a very suggestive Barry White sounding recording asking me to leave a message. I first thought, this is a professional trying to represent serious people with serious problems. Then I thought, that was a good use of an investment that cost so much money and a service plan that costs thousands of dollars a year.
I digress some, but what I found interesting in this regard was the New York Times article explaining how AT&T is taking the blame for the inferiority of the iPhone.
Now, for the reason stated above, I have no great love for AT&T, but I do use its U-verse service in my home and office, and it is very good. At least it is light years better than Comcast. (Do you not feel sorry for NBC).
What the NYT article states is that when looking at independent data to confirm the superior performance of Verizon’s network, AT&T seems to have the superior network nationwide, and the problem in reputation for AT&T might actually be the performance of the iPhone. Apparently, the electronics in the iPhone that connect it to the cell towers, has shortcomings that affect both voice and data. But, since in the eyes of the design mavens that flock to Apple believe the iPhone and their purchase choices are infallible, the AT&T network has been tarnished with the iPhone. Of course, AT&T cannot publicly defend itself without insulting its provider.
The issue is an important one because it demonstrates the problem in our line of work with form over function - design over workable tech.
Admittedly, it is a problem that pervades all areas. I read recently about green washing of building products for consumers, and in particular to use of bamboo as a design elements to cover up more environmentally hazardous manufacturing processes than what is typically associated with wood products.
Look, I understand that most of us guys are going to chose to go out with the drop-dead-gorgeous girl with the overbearing personality over the moderately beautiful lady that is simply delightful to be around. And, there is something to be said for the need for the better products to concern themselves more with design as Apple does.
This has a place in home marketing as well. The staged or model home sells better, more quickly and for more money than the similar house not staged. Yet, nobody is actually buying the staging.
My point is that if you want to succeed at cheap tech, if you want to succeed at functionality that makes you life better and more rewarding, you have to look below the plastic casing. Beauty is really more than skin deep. That is true for tech and cell phones as well.
I have reached a milestone where I have to buy a new smart phone that better works with me in the tasks I have to perform to make a living as a virtual lawyer. Whatever that choice, I have pretty much decided that it will not be an iPhone for a couple of reasons.
First, I like the pretty girl as much as the next guy. However, there is, as they use to say, a difference in the type of girl you are willing to go out with, and the one you are willing to bring home to meet your mother. Apple is the first girl.
Second, like it or not we live in a Google world. We are there not just because Google is becoming dominant, but because it has achieved this right for the free and cheap services it has time and again provided us what we need to live and work better, more efficiently and cheaply. Apart from its logo, it is not about outward design. It is about function. It is also about the cost. Therefore, my choice will be an Android phone. It will not buy a phone from a company deeply rooted in myth, design and is not based on free software. Google believes in freeware and providing those the tools to develop functionality. The opposite of Apple.
I am not saying Google is perfect or flawless. I am saying it generally respects the future and how it needs to develop, and in the process it has produced good (and sometimes great) products that make it possible to do what I want to do in life and in a living Further, it does so with the littlest of cost to me.