Try this test. Take a 10 minute look around your home or office and see how many home, computer or personal technology items you own that are broken in some way. Done it….?
Wanna see our list?
* Microsoft Trackball Explorer. Cut out after around a year. Just stopped registering. Status: Unusable
* Kensington Expert Mouse Pro. Cut out after around a year. Stopped moving in one direction. Status: Unusable
* Nextlink BlueSpoon Headset (x2). Neither would work at all out of the box. Status: Completely useless
* Dualphone (original). LCD screen degraded until several numbers unreadable. Status: Painful to use.
* Casio Exilim S3 digital camera. Flash failed after 10 months use. Status: Repaired via workshop
* Nokia 3230. Power button faulty and speaker audio almost non-existent. Status: Working with faults.
* Siemens SX1. Frequent crashes from operating system. Status: Working with faults.
* Linksys WIP320 Skype Phone. Power button faulty from new. Status: Working with faults.
* Dualphone 3088. Firmware fails to update. Status: Working with faults.
* Sony Cybershot T9 Digital Camera. Fails to hold settings or battery life. Status: Almost unusable.
* Brother MFC620N inkjet. Machine fails to register full ink cartridges. Status: Unusable.
* Kensington Notebook Expansion Dock. Fails to work with proper screen resolutions. Status: Working with faults.
* Harmony 525 Remote Control. Button presses fail to work with set top box. Status: Working with faults.
* VeseNet Powerline Camera. Fails to register on Powerline network. Status: Unusable.
* Logitech VX Revolution. Left mouse button intermittently fails to register. Status: Painful to use.
* Philips 7FF1 Digital Photo Frame. Failed to hold settings from new. Status: Working with faults.
* WinTV HVR USB Television. Failed to receive channels from new. Status: Unusable.
* HomePlug 1.0 Network Module. Failed to work out of the box. Status: Swapped out for new.
* Plantronics Voyager 510 Headset (x2). Audio out stopped working after several weeks of use. Status. Both unusable.
* Toshiba Tecra 9000 (x2). USB port failure, sound card failure, WiFi module failure. Status: Both working with faults.
* Unbranded 7 Port USB Hub. Failed to handle rated number of attached peripherals from new. Status: Unusable.
* Laks USB Watch. USB memory failed after several months of use. Status: Unusable.
* Several USB Memory Drives. Failed to work after a few months. Status: Unusable.
* Electrolux Cyclone Power Vacuum Cleaner. Screams like a jet engine after a few months. Status: Barely usable.
* HTC Touch Mobile Phone. Screen started to degrade within days of new. Both stylii broken. Status: Working with faults.
The twenty five examples above were identified within 15 minutes, so this is not an exhaustive list at all. And notice that several of the products are ones we have recommended or labeled as ‘cool’ in our short term tests, which shows just how fallible the short term gadget review process is. And things are getting worse. The last straw was the HTC Touch, a product barely 3 months old and priced at around £300 or so, which has started falling apart faster than you can say ‘Beijing Summer’.
So behold, our personal Gadget Manifesto as directed towards the tech manufacturers of this world.
1) We’re tired of stuff which lasts only as long as the warranty period before crashing out on us right in the middle of our most important tasks. Make the stuff last longer, and hire a quality control guy OK? Heck, hire two.
2) We’re tired of this constant and relentless instant obsolescence. Why don’t you release a great product at launch, instead of holding back on features that cost pennies in order to give yourself a long term skim pricing roadmap?
3) We’re weary of hearing just how outdated our current model is, when compared with the new version which you’re announcing 6 months early, 3 months after this one hit the stores. Why not spend more time testing your stuff and less working on that snazzy PR campaign?
4) We’re fed up with product spam. It may make it easy for you to segment your pricing and markets by delivering 15 new gadgets in a range, but it confuses the heck out of us, and means we have to spend five times as long researching the Internet to avoid the rip-off models.
5) We’re sick of having to dump unusable devices into drawers because we can’t find anyone to repair them, or if they do, they charge slightly less than the national debt of Zimbabwe for the privilege. And take 8 months to get it back to us. Maybe you can design back into your products the easy repairability you removed in your drive to maximise those profit margins? And hire some more people in your organisation who know how to fix your products and can help guide the repair agencies. Hey, why not go the whole hog and write a readily accessible repair manual for your product range?
6) If the above means that you have to slow up the product release cycle, then hey, go for it (see 2). You may make less profit, but maybe you’ll build up more brand loyalty in the long run as people fall in love with your product quality and customer care focus.
7) We’re bored with hearing how you’re giving us, as consumers, what we demand. We’re not demanding it, you’re creating it and then selling it to us as an upgrade, a revolutionary new blah or whatever. Just get real and admit that your roadmap is based solely on maximizing profit. There’s no shame in that.
Finally, we’re sick and tired of watching top quality, much loved consumer technology brands being forced to sink down into the cheap trashy manufacturing cesspit by the rest of you know-nothing, me-too, clone it cheap, conveyer belt junk jockeys. We don’t mind so much if you no-names produce trash, at those prices at least we know what to expect. But when our favourite stars start having to compete with you on price or go out of business, no one wins. We lose the trust in a name that may have existed for 100s of years, they lose a loyal customer base and the world slips lower into the poisonous landfill of throwaway consumerism. It’s not a pretty future.