Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Calculus has Changed

The trouble with the tech-blogoverse is that it's peopled with tech bloggers. The trouble with tech bloggers is that we tend to be very number oriented.

We tend to discuss computers in gigahertz and megabytes and througput and backside RAM and and benchmarks. We who are geeks and geek wannabes think all that crap is really important. We think anyone who doesn't understand all that when making a computer buying decision is a dork.

Well, kids, it's like this. The mass market, Joe Pawnshopowner and Jane Florist, don't give a fat damn about quad-cores and video drivers. They want their web pages to render quickly. They want to play their games and email a picture of their new baby boy pissing into the air like Old Faithful to Aunt Suzy. If you start talking to them about gigas and teras and megas their eyes glaze over. Aunt Suzy will need her glasses and somebody to point out the stream. She sure as hell won't know the difference between two and ten megapixels.

Does performance matter? Yeah. Performance is important. Joe Hottubinstaller wants it to be so fast he doesn't notice the computer. He wants it to work so well that the platform is meaningless. And to him, the platform is meaningless unless it doesn't work, in which case the platform sucks nuts.

Real geeks who can make any computer do anything they need it to do are mostly platform agnostic. Real geeks don't need a UI. So for ├╝bernerds, the platform is meaningless, unless they write software for a specific platform for a living.

The argument online between Macolytes and Windopes is largely between people who know just enough to be patriotic to their cause, and not enough to be taken seriously by anybody except their fellow patriots. Like me. I could survive in Germany or Mexico. I know how, in those two languages, to ask for a beer, a cigarette, and where's the bathroom? I could probably get lunch and a hotel room with a little help. Beyond that, I'd be in trouble. The same goes with my computer knowledge. As long as I don't have to know too many words, I'm okay.

In other words, most of our tossing about is approximately meaningless to everyone but us. That doesn't make it any less fun, but it should change our perspective a little. It's Ford vs. Chevy. As much as the average guy on the street knows about cars these days, the discussion doesn't go much deeper than the paint job, anyway.

Master Jobst Fimil gets it. Take the MacBook Air Jordan as an example. Blogospheroids are everywhere slamming its lack of an optical drive, not enough ports, no ethernet plug, dinky-ass HD, not enough memory. The Master knows that stuff means Diddle D. Squat to Joe Pizzeriamanager. The average non-geek-mass-market consumer doesn't want a computer at all. Jane Humanresourcesmanager wants what the computer does. It's an inconvenient expense that she has to have a computer to accomplish that.

Cool counts. Function counts. Using it without the manual continuously open counts. Works well every time counts. If all that is good, the price counts. Megagigaterapetas are meaningless.

That's why Macs are kicking ass right now in the market. They're cool. They work. The price is no boundary for anyone who can afford a real computer.

Why did Wal-Mart just kick the cheap-ass Linux machines off their shelves? That's easy. Nobody was buying them. They suck. The average guy has to become a geek to use one, and no self-respecting geek would own one. The only selling point they really had was that they were cheap.

Folks will pay for good stuff. Cheap doesn't sell shit.

That's as serious as I ever get. Well, except when I'm trying to find a parking spot near the tavern.

Could we get another bucket of popcorn over here, please?