Originally published in The Clarion | October 24, 2012
For some time I have pondered the current state of technology, both from a world-wide perspective all the way down to individuals. While my perception may be a bit skewed, I feel there are several factors or truths in the various technology industries that are interesting to say the least. For example, it is interesting to me how some large corporations seem to play by an “it’s all or nothing” rule book where their entire catalog of offerings – from hardware to software and everything in between – only function within their umbrella of products and services. On the other hand, I can look at another global corporation and notice how their products and services are on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum. Compatibility, for the most part, is priority and the more functional their products and services are with those of their competition, the better. Take both of these scenarios and add in the fact that the specific corporations I am referring to are both extremely successful (and profitable), and I simply leave this analysis shaking my head.
One truth that I have finally come to terms with, albeit against my better judgement, is that people seem to care that their devices and software applications simply work more than who it was designed and sold by or even the hidden ramifications that might come upon purchasing the device or software. It seems to me that the public in general has virtually no interest in how a device functions. As long as the device works, the consumer is happy. From there, the consumer plays by the rules of the manufacturer when he or she wants to add another device or service to their gadgetry collection. Whether it’s specific proprietary software (often sold only by the manufacturer) or an accessory for their gadget (again, often only sold by the manufacturer), some companies have done a very good job of marketing their products so well that once a consumer buys in, they’re essentially in it for life.
I am not going to mention specific corporations in this article, if you know me well enough I’m sure you have by now figured out who I am referring to. My point in this evaluation is simple – the world of technology doesn’t have to be – nor can it afford to be – a one-way monopolistic street. Openness in technology, to me at least, makes the most sense. Enough with the silliness of the patent game, enough of the “great you bought my gadget – now you’re mine!” mentality. In the end, the game is resulting in poorer products and services. A recent statistic showed that at least one large technology corporation “invested” more in legal disputes last year than in research and development. What a shame. Hopefully this trend does not continue.