It Just Doesn’t Work

A while ago I read a piece about a guy who stopped reading industry news. Reading industry news can be a massive distraction to a long term strategy. Every time your competitors (real or imagined) launch something, there’s a line of pundits ready to hail praise to the “innovation”. You start wondering why you aren’t doing gait-recognition in your app. Then a few months later, it’s psychoacoustic categorization and so on.

The default assumption is that “oh, they got that working?”, and then I remember that people have wildly different opinions on what “works” means. I usually have the opposite point of view; until I have seen the thing, I don’t believe that it works.

I saw some Kinect footage before it was released, and I was pretty suspicious – once I tried it, I wasn’t disappointed. It was shit. There was, maybe, once in awhile, if I was willing to suspend my belief, a few times where raising my arm would make something happen on the screen. You’ll probably find a bunch of people who would tell you that bundling Kinect with Xbox One was a stroke of genius. If selling half the number of devices of your competitor is “genius”, then I wonder what “stupid” is. In any case, they removed the crap completely from Xbox One S (although you can get an adaptor if you are a masochist).

I decided not to get an Oculus Rift either. The dev kits we had were just too shitty for my taste. Sure, it was very odd/cool, to watch myself from somewhere else. But nothing I would pay a large sum of money for, and I predict that there will be a lot of unused VR kits lying around in boxes 12 months from now (Google cardboard is good enough for me, but I am told the HTC Vive is pretty good). The AR “demos” also seems too fake. Tango seems fine, but Hololens and Magic Leap will surely disappoint me.

And the same thing goes for some of the services we’ve tested in the office. A lot of them are just not reliable. There’s a large chasm between, “what a cool idea, and it sorta, kinda works, if you hold it juuuust right”, to “it just works”.  A while ago I did a trial on a ALPR system, and the results were terrible. Sure, from time to time, it would get it right, but too often it would fail. I am not going to buy into a system that promises plug and play, but then, when I test it, I am led down the maze of infinite tweaks and caveats. If you require special lighting, special positioning, external sensors and so on, then I might as well write the damn thing myself. We also tried another product that made marketing and sales people drool, even potential customers were excited. But I could not get anyone to set this stuff up to work the way people imagined that it worked. They were so thrilled about the idea, that they lost sight of the implementation and result.

I have a pet theory that a lot of products are really turds. To mask the smell, the turd is doused in condiments, and the more condiments the better, even if the condiments are tasteless/bitter themselves.

I suggest that the first company to offer real cake will take the price. I bet that a large number of people would rather eat a donut with NO condiments than a turd, regardless of the amount of great stuff pile on top of it.

 

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Author: prescienta

Prescientas ruler

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